Think Like a 4-Year-Old

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June 15, 2011 by WITS Editor

painting their hands

Studies show that children are more likely to be creative in a non-evaluative atmosphere where ideas and exploration are emphasized.  Classrooms with a “right answer fixation” significantly deter original responses.

As children get older, the pressure to conform, to make the “right” response, increases.  The percentage of original responses in ideational fluency (idea generation about a specific topic) drops from about 50% among four-year-olds to 25% during elementary school (Treffinger 1984).

Sir Ken Robinson, an author and creativity expert, tells the story of some 4-year-olds in a Nativity play with his son James.  The three kings, played by young boys, approached Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus bearing their gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh.  The first child said, “I bring you gold.”  The second child said, “I bring you myrrh.”  The third child piped up, “Frank sent this.”  Robinson suggests that young children who are not worried about making mistakes are able to make all kinds of unexpected and creative “sense” of the world around them.

So, take time to hang out with some 4-year-olds in a relaxing environment.  Their creativity will rub off!

by Marcia Chamberlain, Writers in the Schools

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Writers in the Schools (WITS)


Writers in the Schools (WITS) is the #1 arts education organization in Texas. With 80 writers and educators on staff, WITS reaches over 23,000 students a year in classrooms, community centers, museums, parks, and hospitals.

The glory of WITS is best expressed by the students--in their own words -- so this blog features essays, stories, and poems that were created by K-12 students in our program. All material (c) Writers in the Schools 2007-2013. If you wish to republish this work, please credit both the organization and the author and link back to this site. This material may not be used in commercial ventures of any kind.

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