Leadership is often misunderstood as being bold, arrogant and self-centred or needing to be in the centre of attention. It’s actually very far from the truth. It is essential to understand who a leader is and how nurturing children’s natural leadership skills will eventually help create generations of confident individuals who will in turn positively influence all areas of life in the future - personal, education, business, environmental, and political.
Let’s explore the deeper meaning of the world “leader” and why we, educators and parents, should want our children to be leaders and support their natural leadership skills in their early years.
A TRUE LEADER IS SOMEONE WHO:
1. is confident about who they are - because they know themselves
2. inspires others with his/her gifts and talents - because they recognise their own gifts
3. is trusted - because they can trust themselves
4. can express themselves to the world easily and effortlessly - because they don’t feel afraid to do so
5. celebrates other people for their talents and leads, inspires, listens and guides them to share their gifts with the world with kindness, compassion and integrity considering not only the personal but also the collective good
6. is ready to make a change to the world no matter how small or big
7. leads happy and fulfilling life staying true to their nature, always.
A True Leader is a highly evolved human being, and we most certainly should offer our children opportunities to explore their natural leadership gifts if we really want to help them grow to their full potential.
Creative play is one of the most effective ways to nurture children’s holistic growth and their leadership mindset.
Here’s a few ways how creative play nurtures the leadership mindset:
1. Creative play allows children to express themselves the way they like and prefer at the very moment.
2. Children can explore their inner gifts, talents and preferences, experiment with them and decide how they can make the best use of them in the world.
3. Creative exploration opens up the whole new world of possibilities which a child can flexibly test, reflect on and improve until they are satisfied with the result.
4. While creating a child develops great confidence in their own skills and in their natural gifts and talents.
5. Creative play allows plenty of space for celebrating individuality.
Every play is creative when it is ChildLed because only then it is SelfDirected. Children create all the time and creative play is not restricted to Arts & Crafts only. It goes much further beyond this. Construction is creative,jumping around is creative, discussion is creative, dancing is creative, gardening is creative, role-play is creative. To really nurture children’s leadership mindset any creative experience must always be Child-led, otherwise the creativity aspect will most likely be controlled, restricted, shaped towards a certain direction or agenda-driven, and this greatly limits the opportunities for Personalised Self-Directed learning and development.
Child-Led means that a child is the sole author of the experience, they take it where they want it and how they want it. This also means that an educator is a facilitator of this experience, offering child-friendly and safe environments, and providing access to relevant, age and stage of development appropriate resources. This means not imposing any structure, any outcome, any result. We allow a child to experience whatever they wish and need at the moment - by doing so we show them that we trust them, that we celebrate who they are and that whatever they offer to the world is wonderful and it doesn't need to be changed or modified to our liking.
The only non-negotiable condition here every Early Years Educator needs to make sure they provide is the environment that is safe for all children to creatively explore and take manageable risks. Safe learning environments will not restrict children and will offer them more space to express themselves creatively and fully as individuals.
This approach can go perfectly in line with any curriculum or national requirements, and every experienced educator should have no problems with cross referencing child-led learning experiences with the early years curriculum they follow.
Witold Matulewicz is Co-Founder/VicePresident of Natural Born Leaders www.naturalbornleaders.org
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