Fostering Creativity: The Preschool Teacher
This lesson highlights the significance of being a creative preschool teacher and provides insights on how to promote creativity in your workplace when engaging with children, families, and colleagues. A key learning point is the importance of self-reflection and collaborative, supportive relationships.
- Reflect on what it means to be a creative preschool teacher.
- Come up with ideas to engage families in promoting children's creativity.
- Brainstorm on how to creatively engage with children, coworkers, and families.
"If you hear a voice within you say, 'You cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and the voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh
How do you nurture and sustain creativity in your personal life? Are there rituals or activities you engage in that make you feel more connected to your creative self? Are there individuals who inspire you to be creative? What are some things that spark your creativity?
How about your professional life? What elements of your work environment make you feel creative? Is it freedom to plan experiences and use materials? Is it supportive coworkers and supervisors? Is it guidance and constructive feedback? Is it sharing concerns, ideas, and brainstorming solutions when situations arise? Is it relationships with children and families?
Educational psychology professor James Kaufman has identified eight elements of the work environment that cultivate creativity. In the Explore section of this lesson, you will have an opportunity to reflect on these elements as they relate to your personal experiences in preschool.
What does it Mean to be a Creative Preschool Teacher?
What are some of your own views about being a creative preschool teacher? Pause for a few moments to think about this.
As you have read in this course, creativity is a crucial part of the human experience; it helps us rise to challenges, overcome obstacles, and create opportunities. Creativity is important because it demonstrates openness to new experiences. These experiences include having a good imagination, experiencing and valuing feelings, trying new things based on individual interests, and having a curious mindset (Kaufman, 2009).
In Lesson One, you had an opportunity to explore some of your own views on creativity. This lesson extends on this exploration by encouraging you to think about creativity in your workplace and ask yourself what it means to be a creative preschool teacher.
In your work in a preschool program, you are responsible for creating meaningful experiences that incorporate creativity throughout the day. Being a creative teacher can be expressed in a number of different ways. Here are some ideas of how to express creativity:
- Using everyday materials that might seem of no use to spark creative work in your classroom
- Dealing with space constraints to create supportive learning environments for you and the children in your classroom
- Following your curiosity
- Allowing yourself to make mistakes
- Trying out new things
- Being willing to accept new or different perspectives
- Embracing diversity
Watch the following video to hear a preschool teacher reflect on how her own creative interests influenced some of her classroom activities, and why it is important to value creativity when working with preschool children.
Cultivating and Nurturing Creativity as a Preschool Teacher
Creativity helps you become part of a workplace community that feels welcoming, energetic, and nurturing. It helps you engage children, families, and colleagues in a range of meaningful experiences. Consider the following when engaging with children, families, and colleagues in your program.
What aspects of your work environment foster your creativity? In the Learn section of this lesson you were introduced to eight elements of the work environment that have been identified to cultivate creativity (Kaufman, 2009). In this section, you will have an opportunity to reflect on how some of these elements foster your own creativity at your workplace.
Download and print the Creativity in My Work Environment handout and brainstorm about how these elements relate to your personal experiences when it comes to your own work environment.
In this section, there are two attachments with sample letters you can send to children’s families with information about creative experiences at school and home. As you read these letters, think about what you share with families of children in your care about creative experiences in preschool.
Beghetto, R. A., & Kaufman, J. C. (Eds.). (2010). Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kaufman, J. C. (Ed.). (2009). Creativity 101. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Robinson, Ken (2009). The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. New York: Penguin Group.
Schickeadanz, J. A., Hansen, K., & Forsyth, P. D. (2000). Understanding Children. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.
Trawick-Smith, J. W. (2014). Early Childhood Development: A Multicultural Perspective, (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.
Zevin, J. (2013). Creative Teaching for All: In the box, Out of the box, and off the walls. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.