Not all children take to crafting with ease. Some absolutely love it and need to preparation or coaxing to participate. But others may requiring a little more finesse if you want them to buy into the idea that creating together is a good idea. No matter the attitude of your child, here are 5 easy ways to encourage active participation when you plan to craft with your children.
Think of it in the same way that you would approach a workout session…jumping right in and going at full speed will likely lead to, at best, quick fatigue, and at worst a pulled muscle. There are things that need to be done before you really get into the exercises if you want the best results. Doing an activity with your child is the same. Here are some suggestions to prepare for an amazing crafting experience together.
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SET THE EXPECTATIONS
Just like most adults, children like to know what to expect. And they are much more likely to fully participate the more information that they have. For some kids, they will just dive right in without needed to know everything that will happen. But others may need a little more convincing. Some of the questions that your child might have could be:
“How long will it take?” This question comes up especially if they are in the middle of playing a video game or watching a favorite show. They may want to know how much time the craft activity will take so that they can return to their preferred activity of the moment. Let your child know how long you would like to play together. If there is hesitation, you may want to use a visual timer (just use the one on your phone). Do as much of the craft as you can (you may not complete it entirely) until the timer goes off. Give lots of praise for participation and even a reward (it does not need to be sugar…it could simply be a tickle or hug even) when they have completed the task.
“Can we watch tv while we make a craft?” Let me answer this one for you…no. It’s just not a great idea to have divided attention to that extent. Help your child to focus on one task and do it well without that visual distraction. Play a little music in the background instead if you want. Instrumental works best.
“What are we making?” This is where our next topic begins to come into play…
GET YOUR CHILD INVOLVED IN THE DECISION MAKING
There is a famous saying…â€œTell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.â€ ~Ben Franklin
From the very beginning, make sure that you are involving your child in the decision making process. Help them to feel invested in the project and to take ownership. So, you made the decision that you will be making a craft, that’s great! But let them help decide which one. This does not mean that you need to let them scroll through the entire blog of hundreds of crafts. Instead, pick a couple that you know will be appealing and age appropriate and allow your child to choose from that finite list. (You can use the drop down category of crafts by age to find a list of ones that will be appropriate for your child.)
Keep in mind, that if you pick one from this blog and have filled your bag using our master list, then you are already set to go with everything that you need without another trip to the store (or order from Amazon).
Maybe you want to include listening to some music or having a snack/drink along with your creative time. Ask your child to help you in setting the mood and picking something yummy to eat. Really take the time to craft a memory with your kiddos.
PROVIDE THE RIGHT TOOLS
We just talked about filling your craft bag using the perfect list of basic supplies. There is no reason that crafting should be expensive or messy. Just stick to the list. And always be aware of the specific needs of your child. For example, do you need special scissors, such as ones for a lefty or self-opening scissors. And do you need extra colors of paint…maybe just because they are your favorite colors and you use them a lot?
PREPARE THE ENVIRONMENT
Some things to consider to optimize the environment when preparing to craft with your child includes making sure there is sufficient lighting, appropriate temperature, seating that offers the opportunity for good body mechanics and decreased distractions.
For lighting, if possible work near a window where there is plenty of natural light. You want the light to be bright but not too harsh. Check that it is not too hot or too cold.
When we are sitting with proper body mechanics, our hips, knees and ankles are all at 90 degrees and elbows can rest comfortably on the tabletop. This may mean putting a phone book (like anyone has those anymore) or an encyclopedia (oh, we don’t have those either…but you get the idea) to raise your child up in the chair and then a box for under his/her feet.
Some children are simply more distractible than others. That is just reality. So, help them out by working in a quiet, relatively distraction-free area to help them with focus. You could even go outside and craft at the picnic table if that eliminates some of the usual distractors. Or put up a barrier, like a tri-fold cardboard screen which you can pick up at your local Dollar Store.
WARM UP THE BODY
Regardless of your child’s sensory needs or ability to focus on a task, warming up the body is always a good idea to begin the blood flowing and the synapses connecting. At the very least, do a little stretch before getting started. Your child may need more of a sensory warm-up, like some time in a swing, doing some wheelbarrow walking or jumping on a trampoline. Fill up that tank. But before attempting to sit down again to start the craft, no matter what you choose for a warm-up, finish with a calming activity like stretches or deep pressure (hugs do the job). If you are not sure of your child’s sensory needs, get more information HERE.