SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Balancing Creativity and Academics

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I believe in the Common Core State Standards. Schools need a framework to help their students achieve college and career ready goals. This framework should be clear, rigorous, and equitable for each grade level. This is especially important when families must relocate to a different state or U.S. territory.

With a jam-packed Common Core curriculum, how does creativity survive and truly thrive?

Creativity is defined as the skill and imagination to create new things—and it's just as important as the Common Core standards.  Teachers struggle to tap into student creativity, while maintaining the fast pace of Common Core academics.

Parents should be challenged with this, too. Parents can be an important catalyst in fostering their young child’s creativity.

Here are four activities that cost little or nothing to nurture your child’s imagination, curiosity, and originality:

  • Play his or her favorite music and dance together! Move, jump, and sing along until you see her big smile, or hear his loud giggle.
  • Get small pots, pans, or lids. Use big wooden or plastic spoons to create music together. If you already have an instrument at home, such as a piano, guitar, violin, or flute, incorporate their sounds when possible.
  • Use paints in a different way. Put a small amount of liquid paint on the edge of white copy or construction paper. Then let her use a straw to create a picture by “blowing” the paint onto the paper. Add different colors to other areas of the paper to let her see what happens when colors are blown over each other. When it’s dry, talk about what designs she was able to make by using a straw instead of brush.
  • Act out a favorite story. For example, read The Little Red Hen, Goodnight Moon, or Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by acting out the characters with different voices and using available props.

> Do you nurture creativity?

> Fun book-related crafts projects for young children



#1 City Year Boston 2013-01-09 16:34
All great ideas. I especially like "Act out a favorite story." At City Year, we use this technique (commonly called Reader's Theater) to engage students in reading. Everyone gets a character, adding different voices into the mix. It breaks up the repetition of one voice--and helps prevent students from "tuning out."

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?