Creativity and Self-Expression | Schoolyard

Creativity and Self-Expression

Asian girl playing guitar in joy

At the root of it, creativity is a skill that starts with the choices we make to express ourselves. Early on, kids begin choosing their favorite colors, making up dances and creating hand gestures, all of which build up to an original expression of themselves. They like what they like and choose what they choose, typically uninhibited, typically unprompted. And while seemingly basic, learning to express ourselves authentically is where our creative journey begins.

Here are a few ways we can encourage that early art of self-expression at home.

  • Give kids space to explore and experience. Let the little ones smell, touch and tinker freely (and safely!). These connections help open young minds to the possibilities of the world and their place in it.
  • Celebrate freedom. Encourage them to make decisions, even if it’s just choosing which shirt to wear or which dance music to play. When we bask in their individuality, we also help them build confidence in themselves and their choices.
  • Provide resources for their artistic discovery. Designate a corner for their messes. Invite them to paint, dance, play musical instruments and sing. Ask open-ended questions and explore answers together.
  • Tolerate mistakes. Let them make their mistakes, then reflect and try again in a safe space. Kids who fear failure are typically less likely to take bold creative chances, even as they get older.

Like many skills, creativity develops in childhood and strengthens and grows as we continue to practice it. It permeates every subject we learn and every part of our lives, whether we’re writing, cooking, coding, presenting or playing games. While schools encourage creativity in varying degrees, the degree to which they do isn’t something we can easily choose or change. And that’s okay. The opportunity to keep a child’s creative skills sharp and ready also comes through in small, everyday ways at home. If you have any tips for more creative nurturing, share them with us below!