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Fostering Creativity

Kim Skeen | Brevard, NC

How do we foster and develop creativity within our students at Mountain Sun?

Children are all born with an innate need to create: to build, to make, to tinker. Our job as teachers is to foster that creativity and keep that fire burning so that need to create does not get extinguished. Creativity is something we all have within, but it just tends to get used less and less as we grow older. How many times have you heard an adult say, “I am not creative,” “I am not an artist,” or “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” On the other hand, if you were to ask a group of kinders if they are artists, most likely the answer would be unanimously “YES!” As we grow older we start to identify ourselves in these ways: artist, not an artist, creative, not creative. If you don’t think you are good at art, that does not mean that you are not creative. It is our goal at Mountain Sun to foster each child’s creativity and give them the tools to continue to develop and identify with that creativity as they grow

 

Creativity is important for students to become more effective and resourceful problem solvers. This ability to be a creative problem solver will help them across all disciplines including math, science, writing, history, and their connection to the natural world. It will also help them in their life beyond the classroom. Creativity is a part of the whole learning process for the child, beyond art and music class. Being able to adapt and come up with creative solutions prepares students to be engaged, contributing community members. The Montessori model sets the stage for fostering creativity within each individual, at their own pace, and in their own unique way. It begins with the intention of setting up the well-prepared environment in each classroom. Works are prepared and the student is given the freedom to choose the work that they are interested in exploring. The teacher acts as a guide and support system within the structured environment of the classroom.

 

As the students get into the lower and upper elementary grades they continue to be given the freedom to create. Students have a work plan that they independently go through, choosing when and how they complete their assignments. They are encouraged to research subjects that are of interest to them, choose works to which they are attracted, and work independently on thematic projects.  The classroom environment at Mountain Sun promotes creative thinking by allowing students the space for individual exploration, collaboration, and application to the real world. Students are encouraged to self-correct and and seek out a deeper understanding of the material. Creativity takes practice and tends to emerge over a long period of time after possibly failing many times and trying a different approach each time.

Through thematic based research projects, students are encouraged to express themselves throughout the whole process. The Acorn class (first – third graders) completed geology research projects. Each student chose a geology topic to research and become an expert. Throughout this process students are encouraged to create a visual project of what they found most interesting about their topic. Students have the freedom to choose and create what they want to represent their research.  

 

The Monarch students completed a biography project where they became an expert on the person their choice. Throughout each phase of this project, the student was encouraged to be creative. This project culminated with a Hero wax museum where each student dressed up as their Hero. It was incredible to see how each student chose to represent their hero.

It is important to give students the space for all of this to happen. Fostering creativity goes way beyond the walls of the art or music room at Mountain Sun. Creativity is encouraged throughout a student’s whole education. Self expression, imagination, and originality are an important part of becoming a lifelong learner and responsible citizens. Maria Montessori said, “Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and strength, use it to CREATE.”

 

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