At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents have exhausted their imaginations trying to keep their children occupied at home, and many children are pining to get back to some sort of normalcy. The value schooling provides has come to the forefront of the conversation as families and school districts grapple with the best ways to promote the development of their students during these uncertain times. As parents continue to weigh difficult decisions, now seems as important a time as ever to refocus the conversation on how we can promote a child’s creativity, and why it’s important to do so.
When schools closed in the fall due to the pandemic, many students were stuck staring at computer screens, separated from their friends, and completing rote school work. Whether their work revolved around watching lectures and completing guided responses, following along with a haphazard group activity, or trying to comprehend a new formula without the clean ability to model instruction, students across the US struggled to remain engaged. COVID-19 has given new meaning to the summer slide, as studies have repeatedly suggested that months of learning progress have been lost due to school closures and will likely be difficult to recoup with the uncertain reality of how we’ll be able to return to the classroom.
While this reality may feel overwhelming, it’s important for parents to reframe their focus on what helps students in their development. The first and most obvious is connection and interaction with other children – which, unfortunately, will continue to be a difficult obstacle in school. But worthy of perhaps equal praise is emphasising creativity for students, and particularly through the arts. An arts education – where students are engaged in creative exercises such as painting, drawing, writing, acting, and dancing, to name a few – has an indelible effect on child development that parents are well aware of. Children engaging in the arts are four times as likely to be recognized for academic achievement. Over 90% of parents believe that an arts education is important for their child to receive at every stage of their academic journey, and another 90% agree that the arts is essential for a well-rounded education. Most parents find ways to push their child towards art in some respect, whether it’s taking a pottery class, picking up an instrument, or attending a camp of sorts.
Parents recognize the value that an education in the arts provides their children because creativity is critically important to succeeding as an adult, in any field. Being creative allows us to look at the problems we face in our lives and find new solutions. It gives us the chance to express ourselves uniquely, fosters a sense of identity, and allows for a way to connect with others and build community. Creativity is an incredible stress reliever, especially in the arts, and gives us the chance to express ourselves freely that liberates us. Encouraging creativity seems like one of the best weapons in a parent’s arsenal to combat the realities of the present. Some of this will still be attainable in the virtual classroom environment, but parents would be wise to continue exploring different mediums, as there are no shortage of applications boasting a boost to creativity, but the one thing that makes all the difference in the world is buy-in. Even the most enjoyable app or program or class or curriculum will fail to make a student more creative if they aren’t invested, on their own whims.
Creative work is the most effective ways to introduce children to the emerging and in-demand fields of programming, graphic design, and 3D printing. Little You is an online application that seeks to enhance a child’s interest in these disciplines and more by captivating them in a creative, customizable process. By allowing children to design and customize 3D characters, children are able to create a miniature 3D character and customize every aspect of their appearance and identity. Users can select and add different costumes to design their 3D figure, and they also have the freedom to change colour, size and position for different add-on accessories. Advanced options include naming their creations, adding words and textured images to decorate their figure. Once they’ve fully customized their Little You character, children can share their creations with family, on social media, and with classmates and friends, which is an important part of the creative process; sharing their art helps social development, builds confidence, and creates community. To help with their entrepreneurial skills, children can also sell their 3D models once completed within the application. They can use points to redeem 3D printed toys. Little You’s suppliers then bring the 3D model to life with 3D printing, which can be delivered anywhere in the world, and allow children to see the fruits of their artistic efforts in a new way. Creativity should be top of mind for every parent in this uncertain time with their children’s development on the line, and Little You provides for an innovative way to do so.