Play, the new superfood for kids

QPAC Scholar in Residence Professor Judith McLean talks about the role of play in creativity in children

Ahead of Out of the Box, QPAC Scholar in Residence Professor Judith McLean spoke to Arts Queensland about the role of play in creativity in children...

Bernard Fanning

"Babies and young children are like the “R&D” division of human species...we can learn as much by looking into the cradle and the nursery as by looking in the petrie dish or the telescope. In some ways we learn more – we learn about ourselves what it means to be human." Alison Gopnik

The Arts in Daily Life general population study found that 9 out of 10 Queenslanders believe the arts should be an important part of every person’s education. Various studies have credited the arts with improving wellbeing and quality of life, heightening our empathy and compassion, providing creative outlet and enriching the soul.

For those who participate in artistic practice, this intrinsic value is well known.

At the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) we are committed to creating a world where the performing arts matters to everyone. This encompasses more than the desire to be the leading centre of live performance in Queensland; it speaks to the aspiration for people from all walks of life to embrace and be embraced by the transformative power of performance.

Children make up almost a fifth of Queensland's population but they hold in their hands our future1. The future citizens, law makers and leaders of our society are right now developing their creative muscles. They're also developing fine motor skills, cognitive reasoning and learning language and movement. Children learn in various ways but first and foremost through play. Play is driven by curiosity and when children feel safe and nurtured their curiosity leads them to explore and learn about the world around them.

QPAC's Out of the Box festival is a leading festival specialising in performing arts experiences for children 8 years and under. These early formative learning years for our children are instrumental – it is in these years that the early limbic brain is developed, memories are created and neuron pathways are set.

Play, curiosity, movement, sensory input: this is the first language of our children. By creating experiences for children to explore these inputs and flex their burgeoning muscles we are setting up the next generation to be creative, to be resilient and compassionate. Learning and development at a young age is not solely for the purpose of 'growing up' (whatever that may mean). The brilliance of Out of the Box is in enabling children to embrace these traits now for no purpose other their own value.

Just as most Queenslanders appreciate the need to imbue our children with artistic education, so too does QPAC understand the value of providing space for children to be children. Out of the Box is big, loud and fun; but as adults we must not make the mistake of looking at the 'chaos' and assuming there is no pattern.

Staff at QPAC have long looked at the world through the lens of a child. And what can be more special than that?

Originally published on the artsQueensland blog.

Source
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016. Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2015 cat. No 3101.0 ABS Canberra (refers to children aged 0-12)

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