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Glue, Tape, Love, Support: Crafting With Children

Crafting with children creates a bond with superglue, tape, love and support. Some of my most vivid memories of my childhood are times I was creating something. Whether it was a drawing at my Aunt’s house, a goldfish sculpture at my Grandma G’s house, or a tree fort with my best friends. Thinking back, I can still feel my joy and happiness in those moments, and the pride I felt for having created something unique. Can you think back to when you were a child, to a time you made something with someone else? What did you make? How did you feel while you were creating it? Who helped you?

For most of us now, when we think about arts and crafts we think of things children are given to keep them busy or things they bring home from school that fill up the refrigerator door. But, if we all knew the importance of art and crafts and the role they play in our children’s development, I think we would all have a new perspective.

We could list the physical benefits of crafting such as the development of fine motor skills, dexterity, and improved eye-hand coordination, but the real benefits are mental, emotional and social.

There are seven key benefits of crafting with our children that need to be highlighted.

¯ Developing positive self-esteem/image comes from giving children the freedom and space to create something of their own. It’s about supporting their expressions of art, so they feel in control of what they are making. When they have finished a craft, they feel a sense of achievement and pride in having just created this work of art! Our role is to give them guidance but to allow them to truly build it how they envision it, even if it doesn’t make sense to us.

¯ Inspiring self-exploration through crafting is crucial. Crafting allows children to express their true feelings and emotions. We can see this not only in the art they create but also in the conversations they have while they are crafting. When we give children the opportunity to share it’s important for us to be listening nonjudgmentally. They are trusting us and by being nonjudgmental we are teaching them it’s okay to have these thoughts, feelings, and emotions. They learn they can count on us for support when they need it.

¯ Building relationships stronger than superglue requires working with our child on projects. As previously mentioned, the togetherness, trust, and support helps to develop our child’s sense of self but also our relationship with them. When we build with our child we teach them to work together with others like siblings, cousins, other children and adults.

¯ Fostering a creative solution finding mindset means there’s more than one way to solve a problem or create a work of art. Crafting allows children freedom to problem solve, create new things/solutions, and think outside the box in an abstract way. Crafts give them the opportunity to look at a thing, decide how they want to make it or how they want to solve a problem. It teaches them to be resourceful with materials, people and time.

¯ Planning, goal setting and focusing are fundamental when we create anything, but especially crafts. Children learn how to make a plan and follow it. They decide what they want to make, how they want to make it, how it should look, and what they need to achieve it. Our role is to help them brainstorm their creation, encourage them to draw it out, then to help make it. A good idea during this time to have them tell you about their craft, what materials they will the use and how they plan to complete it.

¯ Improving our understanding of how each child learns is crucial to their success in creating crafts, but also in school and life. There are three different learning styles: auditory (hearing and listening to something) visual (being shown how something looks) and kinesthetic (physically doing something). We all learn differently. Teaching our children how to craft is a tool we can use to find the best combination of learning styles for our children. This will help them succeed tremendously once they get into school and are learning new material every day.

¯ Cultivating multicultural understanding using arts and crafts is a fun and educational for everyone! Crafting is an effective way to teach children about different cultures, traditions, and rituals. Choosing crafts from cultures different from our own teaches children to be accepting and understanding by learning different isn’t bad, it’s just different. When we talk to children about culture it creates an environment where they are more tolerant of individuals who are outside their typical cultural experiences. It can be as simple as accepting another child who may eat different foods from them, practice a different faith tradition, or even have different hair color!

Don’t just take my word for it, Naomi who is a mother of three active boys said “It also fosters conversation that just doesn’t happen otherwise or elsewhere. It’s opened up conversations about what they hope to do when they grow up, what types of things they like to do and encouraging that the trades/working with their hands, is just as meaningful work as some careers that require traditional college degrees. Crafting also builds confidence and self-esteem and broadens their interests and skills. There are so many benefits.”

For crafting ideas to get you started you can visit:

onelittleproject.com/category/diy/

parents.com/fun/arts-crafts/kid/

easypeasyandfun.com/crafts-for-kids/

For more information, please contact Family Service of the Chautauqua Region by calling 488-1971.

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