Why creativity and critical thinking is important
The development of creativity and critical thinking in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) helps children to make new connections and meanings, to discover new places to explore, and to increase ingenuity. This information explains how you can support children to feel secure in their experimentation and risk taking.
- Creativity emerges when children become absorbed in exploring the world around them.
- Directing children’s attention during play often disturbs a child's flow of ideas but adults can, and should, contribute by following children's leads.
- Sharing children's thinking makes adults aware of children's interests and understandings and enables them to foster development of knowledge and ideas.
- Children discover new meanings when they explore possibilities and create new connections between people, places and things.
- Creativity fosters critical thinking by allowing children to review and reinvent.
Creativity and critical thinking are processes that are child led but that benefit greatly from the sensitive contributions of others. The processes involve making connections between things, people or places in ways that are new and personally meaningful. They occur in all areas of learning and development.
Creativity is very much a process and often there is no clearly identifiable outcome or product. Yet, the outcome in terms of children's confidence and skill in learning can be immense. In having scope to explore new possibilities and create new and exciting connections between people, places and things, children discover meanings in their worlds. They are also learning that they can transform ideas and rethink what they know. In this way, creativity can transform understanding by fostering critical thinking and allowing children to review, reinvent and make new meanings.
Babies and children are naturally creative and flexible in their play, turning anything that they can reach into something that they can investigate. Creativity emerges as they become absorbed in exploring what things are like and what they can be made to do. These self-initiated investigations help them to give meaning to the things, sounds and situations around them and they seem to have their own agendas and ideas as they play. The range of this play increases significantly from around the age of eight months when most children begin to move around. This surge in capacity for physical exploration enables them to find new things and new places to explore and increases ingenuity. For example, a box can become a hiding place, a house or a cave.
Sustained shared thinking
By directing children's attention during play adults often disturb a child’s flow of ideas, yet they should contribute. Simply being attentive to a child's explorations and inventions is helpful as this promotes a sense of security and gives licence to experimentation and risk taking. More purposeful contributions involve tuning in to children's ideas and helping to take them forward. Pierce (2000) speaks of play, story making and creative acts occurring in the co-constructed worlds of adults and children. Sharing and sustaining children's thinking in this way makes adults aware of children's interests and understandings and enables them to foster development of ideas and skills.
Pierce, D. (2000) 'Maternal management of the home as a developmental play space for infants and toddlers'. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy 54(3): 290–99.