Ah, the life of an international rock star (I wish)! 6 conferences in 6 days, sounds like something you would be sponsored to do!
Well I am half way through my week and it is flying by (despite my mild dose of man flu)! Today was the second creativity conference. Yesterday was PVI settings and today, schools. No matter how many times I talk about this subject I can't help getting a bit over excited about the possibilities that are out there.
What is really nice is when my enthusiasm is shared by the delegates, which it certainly was today! There were members of staff at the conference from 4 of the 5 schools in the Creativity Project which meant there was a bit of input from the people who are carrying on the hard work in their setting in between my visits.
We also had a good look at the Profile Points that are trickiest to get (7, 8 and 9) and explored possible reasons for why that might be. Fundamentally it came down to the fact that you have to have lots and lots (and lots) of opportunities for children explore all of the elements of creativity for you to be sure that they have achieved the profile point securely.
The FS curriculum is clear about what creativity is and what creative development should look like for children
Here I got the delegates to reflect on how much positive risk there was in their setting on a daily basis. The more structured your day then the less opportunities there are to take a risk. It is only by allowing children to go through the decision making process attached to assessing the level of risk of any given situation that you will develop their ability to be creative thinkers.
I also talked about my definition of 'play'. The word that I think is missing from the statement above is 'purposeful' play. If the children's play outside of an adult focus is not planned and supported to meet the current needs of the children and take them forward in their learning, is it any better than just a holding activity until the next adult focused task comes along?
Hmmm, children being absorbed in their learning, really truly absorbed and engaged by the environment and the enhancements that are in it. This happens most when the activities and resources are built around the needs and preferences/interests of the cohort. Can you get this level of absorption if you are pulling children away from the activities that they have self selected to do group work at a table with you? How do you show in your setting that you are listening to the child's voice and using it to inform your planning?
We also thought about snack time and the benefits and risks of stopping all of the children and bringing them together for snack. This is often 'sold' as a time to develop quality talk and social skills – but in reality is it?
Within your setting you need access to a range of media for the children to select and make with. To get the best of children's creative ability there needs to be less direction from the adult about what to make and more teaching of the process (skills) rather than the end result.
If you do a 'here is one I made earlier' then a child is never going to be able to compete with something you have produced and they may not want to make one like yours. So bin the Blue Peter approach and give them variety and confidence to do their OWN thing!
They can't do this if you have planned their day within an inch of it's life. It is also hard to do when you are using the same topic plans that have been on the go for the past 10 years.
Amongst many other things we talked about seeing the uniqueness of the children reflected in the environment. I had my little rant about too much computer generated labelling on the walls and how you get a much higher level of engagement from children with the displays in the setting if they have been created by the children.
If I came and stood in your setting on my own would I be able to get an essence of the individuality of your cohort? Would I see unique interpretations of a theme or would I see 30 Hungry Caterpillars or 30 kitchen roll penguins?
To truly develop a creative approach means taking on an element of risk as a practitioner. You need to create space in your planning to allow things to happen and be prepared to seize the opportunities that arise planned or not. As long as what you do is driven by accurate assessment of children's needs and you have a clear idea of what you need to do to impact on attainment, then you will be on to a winner – and have SO much fun!