Our mindfulness in choosing the right activities and material is important in building a memorable learning experience for our little ones.
Are Arts and Crafts Really Building Creativity or Are They a Waste of Time?
Having grown up in a middle class family in Singapore, the importance of academics has always been instilled in me. Activities such as arts and crafts were deemed frivolous or at best a nice ‘extra’ talent to have. If I scored well in any art related school work, my parents were proud but it was mostly because of the academic results it yielded. Hardly any thought was given to the process of creation or our thought processes behind each work.
Now, a mom myself, I've started to question this conventional wisdom. I've started to see many important benefits of children engaging in creative activities. Some of the most common ones are fine motor skills development, building of self-esteem, development of creativity and so on. The benefits are endless. At the end of the day, it is not only about creating pretty little decorative pieces but about the variety of ways my children approach learning via creative activities that matters the most.
Imagine a child freely creating something by combining all the different materials they have or another child in deep focus creating a masterpiece she has in her mind. The planning, the sketching, the cutting, the gluing and piecing things together. There is so much going on in what might seem like a “playful and trivial” activity. Were we to extrapolate this to a real life scenario of a working adult, it could be an architect creating her next skyscraper, a surgeon planning for a patient’s surgery or an entrepreneur creating her next product.
Your child is learning how to solve problems, create something new and being completely hands-on. Isn’t all that beautiful?
How To Create Opportunities to Craft With Your Child
If you use Instagram or Pinterest, you probably do not need to read this section. If you do not then it is a good time to start. There are many lovely Instagrammers or Pinterest boards that showcase ideas on crafting. Some of the crafts featured are even useful STEM activities if you prefer to blend in some science into your child’s creative projects.
If you find structured or predefined sessions bothersome or limiting for your child, simply set up a craft trolley or box with a lot of random materials in them and let your child just go wild with the materials. Some useful and fun materials are recycled cardboard and plastics, ice cream sticks, pipe cleaners, old magazines, bottle caps, recycled egg cartons, pom poms, glue, child-safe scissors, colouring stuff, stencils, coloured paper, tape, fabrics, buttons and many more.
We all know, life as a parent can be demanding at times so why not join in on you child’s activities. Explore your own creativity and (hopefully) de-stress. Perhaps, there’s a corner in your house that needs sprucing up, why not find ideas online and get your child to help you with the idea. Any opportunity to bond with your child is time well spent.
What Else Besides Crafting
Once in a while, you might want to buy the latest bright and shiny toy for your child. The issue is you realise how quickly they get bored of it. These toys tend to look fun at the outset but hardly keep your child interested for more than a day.
Make your money’s worth by investing in more open-ended and simple toys. Toys that promote creation or role play are also always lovely to have in the house. Such toys require kids to participate a lot in the building of something meaningful and this labour would result in the child loving it. I remember that whenever I tell my kid to clean out her drawers, she will always choose to keep the little sketches she painstakingly drew while choosing to throw out beautiful commercially printed stickers or cards given to her by family and friends. Therefore, when you invest in toys that she or he can properly engage in the process of creation. It will increase the length of time the child utilises the toy, thereby maximising the value. Of course, there are other useful skills she gains during the process.
At the end of the day, resources are limited. We want our child to engage in meaningful activities. We want to spend our limited free time engaging in meaningful activities with our children. We want them to enjoy their childhood and have fun learning. Therefore, our mindfulness in choosing the materials and activities is important in building a memorable learning experience for our little ones.