Why creativity matters and how play nurtures creative minds

Creativity is instinctive in children – and just as essential in adults. Here’s an introduction to what we know so far about why and how we should make space for children to hone creative skills.

Creativity is a muscle we build from the moment we’re born

Children flex it instinctively: everything is new to them, and they spend every waking second working – and playing – hard at connecting the dots between their experiences, ideas, and imagination. But we can, and should, keep developing creative skills throughout our lives.

 

Whenever we try out any idea, we’re being creative

It’s easy to see the creativity in building a stick fort in the woods, painting a picture, or even negotiating the rules of a game. But everyday moments build creative skills too. A child helping their parents adapt dinner when they’re out of a key ingredient is coming up with solutions, and seeing what happens when their ideas meet the real world. That’s the essence of creativity.

 

Creative skills last a lifetime – and that’s just as well

Connecting information from different sources, taking on board new ideas, testing them through trial and error: adults use these skills everyday, and they’re all creative.

So it’s no wonder business leaders now rank creativity as the most-wanted skill in the working world. Millions of children will grow up to do jobs that don’t exist yet, so creativity will help them adapt and thrive in any future. Big picture thinkers with finely honed problem-solving skills could even tackle our most pressing issues, from climate change to building a fairer world.

 

When we make learning more playful, we support children’s creativity

To nurture a generation that’s ready to take on any challenge, we need to give children the right environments to work out their creative muscles. That starts with taking a look at what makes play such a powerful tool for learning – and making sure children get the opportunity to use it.

What we mean by creativity

Creativity is active: we define it as exploring, connecting with, and transforming the world around you. And that’s exactly what children do naturally – through play. Here, we dig into the hallmarks of creative play, and why it’s so important.

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Creating Creators

How can we strengthen creativity in education systems now and in the future? In this report from the Creativity Matters series, we asked the experts: academics, assessors, influencers, governments, learners, and teachers.

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Creating Systems

We turned to five education policymakers from pioneering countries. In this report Creativity Matters series, we find out how they reshaped their systems to put creative play at the heart of the school curriculum.

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Assessing creativity

To shape systems around creativity, we need to know what works - which means we need to measure creativity. Intuitively, that might sound impossible. But if we challenge our ideas about what it means to be creative, we paint a new picture of what’s possible.

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