Building Children’s Confidence in their Creativity by Tasha Harrison

Clementine Florentine is a new middle grade book publishing today! Author Tasha Harrison has written us a brilliant blog piece about creativity in children!

In my middle grade children’s comedy, Clementine Florentine, 10-year-old budding poet Clementine loses her self-confidence after her funny poem goes unacknowledged in the school poetry competition and is later made fun of by the young author of the winning poem, Callum.

While navigating unwelcome changes in her life (such as her dad’s new romance with Callum’s mum), Clem eventually gets her confidence back thanks to new neighbour, ageing punk legend, Lyn Ferno, who knows a thing or two about challenging the status quo.

Clem’s experience of rejection temporarily paralyses her ability to write poems. While her dad is supportive, it’s only when another adult – Lyn – takes an interest in her poetry that she’s able to see that failure and criticism do not indicate a lack of talent on her part.

It’s vital that children have the opportunity to discover their creative strengths and passions, whether they be in art, writing, music, cooking, textiles, drama or whatever. Encouragement and acknowledgement from adults helps them to believe in themselves, and to not lose confidence when they experience failure. Overcoming failure is a skill in itself, as is taking risks, going against the grain and trusting your instincts – believing in what you’re doing even when nobody else gets it. When you feel comfortable doing all those things, you can flourish and create amazing things.

I wonder if, though, society values children’s creativity enough? So much emphasis is put on the merits of academia, of going to university and getting a degree so that you can get a “good job”, that following your creative passions is seen as less important. And this emphasis seeps into children’s lives before they leave secondary education, perhaps much earlier than that even.

At my school there was no opportunity to continue creative writing at A-level, so my passion dropped out of my life for the next decade while I made “sensible choices”. My love of reading also fell by the wayside thanks to a literature curriculum I didn’t enjoy. I celebrated the end of my degree by buying a Jilly Cooper novel. It was like a breath of fresh air, and thanks to Jilly – not university – I rediscovered my love of reading. It took several more years before I rediscovered my love of creative writing.

We need to listen to children, help them discover their passions, applaud them for taking creative risks – no matter what the outcome – and encourage them to embrace failure as a necessary and even helpful part of their journey. We need to let kids read whatever they enjoy, let them draw what and how they want. Praise their writing’s creativity rather than its correct use of grammar. Don’t impose too many rules or boundaries with the unspoken long-term intention of making them employable in a sensible career choice. Let them explore, experiment and make mistakes. If what they produce is “quirky” or “out there” by conventional standards, so much the better. That’s a gift that deserves to be nurtured, and who knows where it might lead.

Clementine Florentine publishes today with Uclan Publishing! Check out the brilliant resources for Clementine Florentine on the link below!

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