By Michael Hilkemeijer
Creative development plays a very significant part in a young child’s learning in the early years curriculum. It is strongly linked to play and the curiosity of children continues to drive the enhancement of their dispositions. Creativity in the early learning environment allows children to participate in and gain from learning. So promoting creativity in early childhood education is vital to a young child’s learning and development.
Nurturing creativity in early childhood education classrooms with technology is about ensuring that early childhood practitioners are supported in their own ICT capabilities. This is important because the level of capability in ICT that a child can develop is directly linked to that of a teacher's ICT capability.
If you feel more confident and competent in the use of ICT in your learning environment, then you will allow young children to explore and create more things with technology.
Therefore, by joining our free online professional development for early childhood educators you will start your learning journey in understanding the best practices to use ICT - teacher ICT capability.
By doing this, you will be able to nurture creativity in early childhood education with technology.
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Defining Creativity in ECE
For a long time, many theorists such as Piaget, Montessori, Vygotsky, and Bruner have recognised the significance of creativity in early childhood education. The overwhelming result is that it lies at the heart of much of the philosophies surrounding the education of young children. It means that there is no definitive definition of what is creativity in early childhood education.
For Price (2009), it is about children discovering new connections and making new connections. It also has something to do with process. Creativity in early childhood education may or may not result in an end product. As an early childhood practitioner, you need to engage in and capture the processes to support children’s creativity. This support will come from your observation and evaluation of their play in addition to building carefully on what they are engaged with and interested in.
Creativity in the Learning Areas
When you break down within the key learning areas such as drama, music, arts and craft – part of the foundation of creativity in early childhood education classrooms – promoting creativity can:
- Foster creativity
- Build your child’s confidence
- Help your child express feelings and learn communication skills
- Help your child develop, practise and improve coordination and motor skills
- Give your child a chance to practice decision-making, problem-solving and critical thinking
- Help your child find new ways of looking at things.
How does technology affect creativity in the early years?
Today, as every new generation of children continually get exposed to new and emerging digital technologies they all become too much like the generations before them and tend to take technology for granted. They begin to see digital technology as part of their native environment.
As each new development in technology emerges with the other so does the flexibility of their application continue to grow. For example, the modern smartphone was originally designed for telecommunications but now has satnav, digital cameras, and many other things as a standard feature.
All this means that the young children who enter your early learning environment are growing up in a world where they will not only have some degree of capability in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), but a world that expects them to have some degree of creativity with digital technologies.
Young Children in a Digital World
As discussed earlier, it is unrealistic for any early childhood practitioner to assume that a young child has not been exposed to digital technology or has a level of ICT capability. Therefore, it is essential that you not only understand and are mindful how children interact with technology, but when you are planning on integrating technology in preschool classrooms that you consider the current level of ICT capability that a child may have.
Young children will learn how to use technology at home through observation and imitation as digital technologies continues to be a fabric of their lives. As a result, a child’s parents and even the wider family members would expect the child to benefit from the use of these digital resources in some way.
Digital Creativity and Innovation
When young children gain experience in digital creativity and innovation through exploring and expressing themselves creatively by creating content with technology in early childhood education they develop creative literacy.
Creative literacy is promoted through the use of ICT tools to create, adapt, or curate digital content.
However, promoting creativity in early childhood education with technology means that being trained in the effective use of ICT so as to develop your own capabilities in ICT. Effective online PD for early childhood educators such as that we deliver must be aligned with UNESCO ICT competency.
Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and Digital Creativity
In this video, I discuss the connection between creative learning experiences and technology use in early childhood education by focusing on the early learning goals that present opportunities for you to apply today.
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Digital Creativity
In the EYFS, creative development is used to capture children’s development in:
- Responding to Experiences, Expressing and communicating ideas;
- Exploring Media and Materials;
- Creating Music and Dance and;
- Developing imagination and imaginative play.
“Creating and Thinking Critically” is an important part of the curriculum and resembles a commitment to the principle of Learning and Development.
Expressive Arts and Design is one of the seven areas of learning where promoting creativity in early childhood education is facilitated in the EYFS. This area-specific guidance is cast in broad terms and promotes digital creativity which provides:
"… opportunities and encouragement for sharing … thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology." (EYFS, 2018)
Additionally, the learning area ‘Understanding the world’ also provides opportunities “to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.” It is important here to "recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools.’ And in addition, they should be taught to ‘select and use technology for particular purposes." (EYFS, 2018)
10 Creative learning activities
When promoting creativity in early childhood education with technology you should have a list of ideas ready to implement. You know…. Just in case one doesn’t work out, there are nine others that you can try.
Here is a list to start from.
- Take a photo with a digital camera, or copy a photo from Google Image search, open it in a paint program and paint over the top.
- Tape white chalk to the back of a bee bot or Pixie and draw using it on large sheets of black paper.
- Record the children singing in a group using a program such as Audacity.
- Model the use of the art program and teach children how to use each of the tools according to their own levels of competence and interest.
- Leave the webcam on and let the children be stimulated by seeing themselves on camera.
- Clown faces can be used to paint on top.
- Video children’s play as characters from story books.
- Scan in natural objects and show children how they can rearrange them to get the effect you want.
- Be creative in your provision of everyday technology. Add defunct mobile phones to pockets in children’s dressing-up clothes.
- Add a computer and role play software.
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