The beauty of play and creativity is that the learning is in the process, rather than the product. A favorite activity at Harbor is building with magnatiles – they are the center of hours of collaborative play, only to be taken apart and restarted the next day. The learning that occurred while building contraptions far outweighs the impression of the finished product. Children have negotiated, resolved conflicts, cooperated, persevered, and compromised…and all while building the multi-colored magnetic Eiffel Towel.
When my son was in 2nd Grade, his art class made clay animals and then painted them. When they were displayed in the school, I practically ran to go see these amazing works of art and imagination. My son had made a cat (he had told me earlier that day) so I was expecting a beautiful brown piece of absolute marvel, to be displayed proudly on our mantel. (Yes, this was my first child, and a “Mama’s Boy” at that!)
I approached the display of incredible animals and saw red dragons, blue whales, yellow ducks, green frogs… I held my breath as I looked beneath the animals for the little card with my son’s name on it…and…there it was! Screech to a halt. The animal was, well, colorful, to say the least. It had blue ears, a red face, a green and white body, and a purple tail. My heart sank as it was not at all how I had envisioned his clay cat. Shame on me, but I was disappointed. The art teacher happened to be walking by and I made a light-hearted joke about my son’s rainbow cat, to which she responded, “He was the only one who dared to use so much creativity and imagination with his animal. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of him.”
Not only is using one’s imagination something to be applauded and celebrated, but that so much learning occurs in the process. Creativity is one of The Harbor School’s guiding principles, and we wholeheartedly believe that play, creativity, and imagination are at the core of early childhood education.