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How creative child-led play nurtures leadership mindset in children, Witold Matulewicz

“Why would I want my children to be leaders?”

If this is your first reaction to the heading, then you might be missing out on the deeper meaning of the word "leader".

Leadership is often misunderstood with being bold, arrogant, self-centred or in need to be in the centre of attention. Actually, this is very far from the truth.

So, who is a leader? And why would we want our children to develop leadership skills?

A TRUE leader is someone who:

  • is confident about who they really are because they know themselves

  • inspires others with his/her gifts and talents because they recognise them

  • is trusted because they can trust themselves

  • can express themselves to the world easily and effortlessly because they don’t feel afraid to do this

  • celebrates other people for their talents and leads/ inspires/ listens/ guides/ people to share their gifts with the world

  • is ready to make a change to the world no matter how small or big

  • and leads a happy and fulfilling life that is true to their nature

As you can see, a leader is actually someone very positive and highly evolved as a human being. Why wouldn’t we want to nurture leadership mindset in our children then? We all most certainly should if we really want to help our children reach their full potential.

Here’s a few ways how creative play nurtures the leadership mindset:

  • Creative play allows our children to express themselves the way they like and prefer in the very moment

  • Our children can explore their inner gifts, talents and preferences, experiment with them and decide how they can make best use of them in the real world

  • Creative exploration opens up the whole world of possibilities which our children can flexibly test, reflect on and improve until they are satisfied with the final result

  • While creating, our children develop great confidence in their own skills and talents

  • Creative play allows plenty of space for celebration of our children’s own individuality

To be honest with you, every play is creative when it’s child-led. Children create all the time and creative play is not restricted to Arts & Crafts only. It goes far beyond that.

Construction is creative, playing football is creative, discussion is creative, dancing is creative, gardening is creative, role-play is creative…

To really nurture our children’s leadership mindset, any creative experience must always be Child-Led. Otherwise the creativity aspect will most likely be controlled, restricted, and shaped towards a certain direction or driven towards a specific result.

Child-led also means that the child is the author of their experiences - they can take them wherever they want it and however they want it.

This also means that we as educators are facilitators of these experiences, offering child-friendly and safe space and free access to appropriate tools and resources.

But we shouldn't impose any structure, any outcome, any result. We allow our children to experience whatever they wish and need at that moment. And by doing this 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.

Child-led and self-directed play is the single key element in Early Years Education that connects children with their inner gifts and talents in the most natural way, and allows them to explore the world in the most intuitive and joyful way. It has the power to completely redefine the way we understand and offer learning experiences. It has the power to profoundly impact future generations.

Time to Play!

Witold Matulewicz

Vice-President of Natural Born Leaders

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