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Guest post by artist, educator and blogger, Melanie Sklarz.
Did you know that as humans we have the unique ability to make connections between different ideas and things, understand symbols and metaphors, and use our imagination? By tapping into our personal creativity and imagination we help our brain and positively affect our heart and spirit.
So why should you encourage creative expression in your child? Here are my top 3 reasons.
Creating art or engaging in some other form of creativity, even if done poorly, reduces stress. At the core of the creative act is flow, an automatic and effortless yet highly focused state known to reduce stress and tension. This state includes a complete awareness and lack of self-consciousness. If you’ve ever lost yourself engaging in a creative pursuit then you’ve experienced flow.
Let me give you a specific example of how this works. In 2003, a study followed 16 singers. Half of them were professional singers with a natural talent. The other half were amateurs with just an interest in signing. Both groups were given singing lessons and both groups reported that they were more relaxed afterward because of the lessons, even though half of them had never sung before!
When you take a chance and learn something new and then look back at your creative progress, your self-esteem naturally increases. This also gives you the confidence to look for new solutions in all aspects of your life. Basically, it gives you a sense of self-pride.
According to Sandra Russ, a professor who specializes in early-childhood play at Case Western Reserve University, “Self-expression feels good and it’s reinforcing.” She added, “When kids play creatively and make up things they are expressing who they are and learning social skills.” Creative activities help children to communicate and express themselves in new ways to build self discipline which leads to an overall improved self-image.
Creativity helps children understand and appreciate other cultures, people, and the past and increases tolerance to new ideas and thoughts. When kids study the arts, for instance, they learn about difference in a non-threatening, often enjoyable way. Studying art or engaging in another creative pursuit encourages critical thinking and problem solving. These learned skills can be used to create everyday solutions to common problems. When combined they are an asset to the new global economy. Because technology connects us to all parts of the world now, these skills will be needed in the future in order to succeed.
In 2002, the National Governor’s Association issued a brief indicating that arts education and the skills gained from engaging in creative pursuits offers states a good way to build their workforce. Today, now more than ever we must use imagination and creative thinking to succeed.
Melissa’s Note: Wow! Melanie, I’m thrilled to know how important creativity is for our lives. You’ve inspiring us all with this post — I can’t wait to read Part II!