Kids come with different ages, interests, and aptitudes, so it’s no surprise that some kids would choose to spend all day working on crafts while others would prefer playing soccer or climbing on a jungle gym. But whether your child is ultra-crafty or mildly uninterested, there’s no disputing the contribution craft time makes to early childhood development – fine motor skills, creativity, and logical thinking (to name a few) are all challenged in different ways through craft projects. Knowing your child’s preferences and aptitudes will help ensure a successful craft time for everyone. Here are a few things to think about when you’re planning to get crafty:
1. Who will be doing the craft project(s)? Does your child like to work solo or do they prefer to work together with you?
Some kids like to work independently and will need minimal help getting started, while others may look to mom or dad for their contribution, as they’re using the time to socialize with their adults. If your child works independently, you can check in with them periodically, while the social child will need more of your focused attention.
2. How much structure does your child like? Do they prefer a lot of guidance before they jump into crafts, or do they just want to dive in?
If your child likes structure, you could make some suggestions for craft projects, or show them how they can use craft materials. If they prefer to dive in, it’s probably enough just to have the craft supplies available to them so they can get started
3. What is your child’s attention span? Which craft supplies should be used?
Keep craft projects simple and open ended if your child is quick to move on to new activities. If you child likes to focus for longer periods of time, more elaborate projects can be planned. Choose supplies that are easily managed by the kids – if they can’t control the amount of glue or paint they pour out, put dollops of these items onto an old plastic lid and use popsicle sticks or paint brushes for spreading. Put sparkles and decorating accessories in small bowls or plates to avoid dumping everything at once. Ensure that the supplies or ideas you provide are not overly complex for the level of attention they have – this can lead to frustration
4. What time of day works best for your child to concentrate on focused activity/fine motor skills?
If your child has the soccer ball in hand and is ready to run outside and do some dribbling, sitting down to the craft table will be a hard sell. However, if they are easing into the day, winding down from a long day, or just need some quiet time, doing crafts might be just what they’re looking for.
5. Where is the best place for your child to work?
Ask yourself this question keeping in mind your child’s needs, and your own as well. Do they prefer to stand, crouch, or sit? How messy will they get, and do they need an apron or old t-shirt? Is it better to take the craft project outside? Find a location that will work for them and for you. A little mess is unavoidable – minimize frustration and restrictions by choosing a workspace that can be messed up and easily cleaned up.
For preschool and early elementary kids, the goal of crafts is simple exposure to new activities and skills. A few minutes of preparation from a parent or caregiver will go a long way towards holding your kids’ interest in their craft projects. Choosing the right place, time, and materials is the first step in making craft time fun for your kids.