Why it's important to encourage creative expression

Why it's important to encourage creative expression

Art is a healthy form of self-expression for everyone, but especially children. Creating art opens unimaginable doors, whether it’s physical art, dancing, singing, writing, drama, film or playing an instrument. Young children have a natural curiosity to explore the world around them and express themselves freely. They enjoy making sense of new experiences and discoveries.

Art allows children to utilise their imaginations, learn and process emotions, and receive positive attention from the adults in their lives. Creativity can be a positive outlet in this crazy, upside-down world.

All human beings are creative by nature, and children instinctively know this in their hearts. However, as we grow older, we begin to have doubts. We live in a culture with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of doing things, which discourages our innate creativity. Over time, most of us learn not to colour outside the box.

Schools especially have trained us to comply with the demands of those in positions of authority. Creative efforts can be compared to ‘standards’ and ‘curriculum expectations’ by parents and teachers. Children are constantly tested, compared and given grades. Most of us give up certain activities and art forms because we see how well others are doing and we doubt our own potential.

In reality, each of us has infinite creative potential, but, like seeds, each person’s unique talents need to be cultivated, encouraged and nurtured.

Every child naturally thinks creatively and is fascinated by nature when they’re given the opportunity to experience it.

It’s all there – all this information – just waiting for you to discover it. If you look at a plant, you’re not just looking at a plant, you’re looking at the miracle of life and its uniqueness. Then you start to question how it grows, withstands adversity, returns renewed. If you study something, you find its beauty, you have the desire to express it and you feel obliged to do it justice. Art is a visual demonstration of our connection to and appreciation of our beautiful Earth.

Like music. It is not like a thing you can see or touch, but it has immense value to us all as something we hear and feel emotionally. It’s one of the most mysterious of all things we can experience. There’s a specific rootedness you get through music. In nature, it’s similar. We are connected to our creative side.

Life is a dance. This whole planet is a dance. You just have to look out the window and watch the leaves blowing with the wind. The wind is the trees’ dance partner.

Everyone’s life is a potential work of art, but we and our children have been made to think otherwise.

It is interesting to note in the history of institutionalised education that “factory model” schools were designed by wealthy industrialists. They wanted to train children to become obedient little workers and materialistic consumers who would buy their products in the future, rather than creative artists and self-reliant producers happy to live in the present.1

It’s therefore our responsibility, as parents and teachers who know better, to challenge and change this, and to show our children how life provides endless opportunities for creative freedom, learning, and joy!

Look around you and try to name one item that didn’t require art in its process.

Art is everything.

Art is everywhere.

Art is everyone.

Losing our creativity is like forgetting who we really are.  


Cara MacDonald grew up surrounded by people doing art. Her mum and grandad are both artists, and as a young child she was always encouraged to make art. Before starting up her own classes, Cara assisted at her mum’s art classes, and with classes at her local dance school. In recent years, Art Club and Dance Fitness have been offered online, to keep children’s creativity going no matter what’s going on around them. On Instagram @everychildisanartist_

1. Brett Veinotte (2013) Extending Childhood, by John Taylor Gatto [online video], available at youtube.com/watch?v=7KW8hfO6ysM.


Published in issue 79. Accurate at the time this issue went to print. 

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