Most of us know when we see creativity but how do you teach a concept that is inherently abstract? And how do you translate an abstract concept so that kids are able to understand and apply it in their lives?
Local education startup, Creativate, takes on a different approach when it comes to learning for kids. If you were to walk into a classroom, you’d immediately notice the freedom that kids are given in the learning environment.
The kids are free to roam, climb walls and take breaks whenever they feel inclined to. Of course, it’s not just all play. The young children are taught to read, craft and write in hour-long sessions which look more like play dates than a skills development class.
Creativate started in November 2016 and is run by an all-female trio: Nazurah Hamizah Hj Md Salleh, Dk Nurul Khairunissa Pg Hj Mohd Roslin (or Chai) and Siti Nur Nadzirah Suhaimi, all of whom met each other in 2014 during the Brunei-U.S English Language Enrichment programme for ASEAN.
They then spent another 10 months together in Laos. That’s when they realised that kids learnt best when they’re enjoying themselves-singing, dancing and moving around a lot.
“The creative programmes are all about developing interpersonal skills like teamwork and expression which, in turn, helps build their own self-confidence,” says Nazurah.
There’s nothing wrong with textbook-style methods but teaching becomes a different challenge when kids are in the equation. So Creativate had to explore new ways of teaching that would also help kids meet learning outcomes.
Learning by Themes
Instead of learning traditionally by subject, Creativate picks a topic that kids are interested in and then explore around the topic in different ways. Chai explains, “On the first month experimenting with thematic learning, we chose to study the universe. Kids are fascinated by stars, space, and galaxies. Next month’s theme will be about dinosaurs,” she says.
The kids are encouraged to be curious about the world and the team stimulates this curiosity in many ways.
“We once showed them a video about space within the human body and beyond the planet. The kids were instantly mesmerised and surprised at how tiny humans are in the bigger scheme of things,” Nazurah says.
It got the kids talking and got even more curious about their own environment and the world that they live in.
Practicing Social Interaction
There is no curriculum to follow and walk-ins are available for each session. This means that kids may have different classmates every time. Creativate sees this as an opportunity for the kids to practice interaction. At the same time, the team ensures that the atmosphere is supportive and congenial, and that everyone had a common goal to solve.
In their freestyle reading programme, kids have complete autonomy over what to read, how they read it and what to discuss. “It’s not that kids don’t like reading, or they don’t know how to read per se. It’s just that there’s a fear of getting something wrong,” says Nadzirah.
Instead of being in an environment where kids are pressured to at the same level, they are encouraged to read at their own comfortable pace.
Creativate applies these principles to themselves, too. By learning through trial and error, the company made a bold move to thematic learning.
“We can’t be scared to introduce something new or being different. Change is always required of us as individuals, business owners, and a company”, says Nadzirah. “We can’t be afraid of taking risks”.