Reflections On The Importance of Being Little
– Erika Christakis
As I roll into my second month at TBS, I continue to find myself wandering into meaningful and impactful learning situations as I do my casual daily observations in each classroom and program.
I’ve been reading The Importance of Being Little, by Erika Christakis, to brush up on my early childhood educational theory and philosophy. One theme threaded through this book, and baked into Tobin Beaudet’s core values, is the importance of creativity in social learning. Creative thinking, creative play, and creative engagement with peers are fostered in each of our programs and classrooms. TBS teachers are guides on a learning journey fueled by curiosity and creativity.
Why Focus on Creativity in Social Learning?
Curious and creative learners are active learners. As Christakis explains: creative, generative children feel confident they can create meaning – whether from an idea or a thing – or even a relationship. TBS students are stewards of their own learning experience, with the support of patient, loving, and equally curious teachers.
Curiosity and creativity are skills that when nourished, grow and change with a child. These learning skills can be cultivated, helping children adapt to new information and environments, and be resilient to new challenges.
How We Support Creative Learning at Tobin Beaudet
Children spend a lot of their time asking questions and figuring out their feelings. Here’s how we support them through this process, fostering their creativity along the way:
- Listen and explore questions:
We spend a lot of time listening to and exploring our students’ questions and feelings. We promote inquiry by encouraging children to seek out information and engage with their peers to solve problems.
- Promote problem-solving:
Our social-emotional curriculum is the foundation of a creative learning environment. We support interpersonal relationship building by helping children to foster their friendships and resolve conflicts with their peers.
- Encourage self-reflection and reframing to develop empathy:
We promote introspection by encouraging self-reflection and debriefing about making choices. We also use reframing to help students see each other’s points of view and develop empathy. Our programs also allow for content flexibility, where student interests and passions fuel classroom activities and projects.
What You Can Do At Home to Support Creative Learning
One of the best things teachers and parents can do is model creativity. Share your passions and hobbies with your children. Show them what you’re making. Tell them about your thought process, how you discovered what worked, and how you learned from your mistakes. Whether you’re building something in your garage, cooking a new recipe for the first time, or training for a road race, invite your child into your creative thinking space when it suits you. When children have a meaningful bond built on safety and trust with an adult, those memories of exploring creativity together imprint on their minds and can positively impact how they approach learning.
The work we do at Tobin Beaudet around creativity is ever-evolving. We adapt to our students’ needs and are constantly incorporating our teachers’ curiosity for trying new tactics and activities. As Christakis explains in her book, the best programs share several common features: social-emotional and active creative learning and well-qualified teachers who use “reflective teaching practices”.
I am so proud of all of our teachers, who are continuous learners themselves, constantly improving and evolving their classroom programs. Our Junior Kindergarten teachers are experimenting with Open Circle, and we can’t wait to share more about this creative learning tool in our next blog post!
By the way, if you’d like to check out the book, “The Importance of Being Little”, we have a copy on our “Parent Resources” table underneath our Sign In/Out board.