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Tips for crafting with kids

Crafting creates a perfect opportunity for parents and kids to have fun together. However, many of us can attest to the fact that when things go bad the results can be disastrous (and v messy!). Here are some tips to help keep your crafting sessions, and little craftsters, from turning to the dark side.

Be prepared

You tell your two year old that it's time to do some craft. "OK", you announce, "we're going to stick pictures of animals onto this piece of cardboard and make a poster." Your excited child begins to jump up and down with glee and waits while you search for some magazines cut out some suitable pictures. Within three minutes the situation begins to deteriorate rapidly. Your cutting has become frantic and maniacal and you child is seconds away from rampaging through the house with a glue stick. Sound familiar?

It's boring and practical but like the boy scouts say: be prepared. Use nap time or quiet time or night time to get yourself ready. Work our what you're going to do, make sure you have what you need and then set things up so that they're ready to go. Your little one will probably want to get straight into it as soon as the activity is explained.

Be present

Don't start a craft activity unless you are going to be present, physically and mentally, to see it through to the end.

When you're busy it can be very tempting to use craft as a way to keep your child occupied while you do something else. It's worth keeping in mind that young kids need help with even the simplest of craft projects, so if you have something important that you need to do you might want to consider an alternative distraction.

Try not to be too outcome oriented

Every time we attend kids craft sessions at our local library I am amazed at the sea of parents busily colouring-in for their children, whisking away the scissors so that they can make sure the lines are cut straight or simply not letting their child participate in the crafting experience!

As a parent it can be hard to let go of the idea of 'doing it right' but when you're crafting with very young children it it worthwhile remembering that it's the doing, not the outcome, that counts. 

By all means, get involved. Crafting with your kids is fun and rewarding. Just resist the temptation to do the work for them. Instead, give your child the oppotunity to learn from their mistakes.

Provide plenty of praise and support

Make sure that your little one gets praise and encouragement for completing an activity, even if it looks pretty dreadful. Compliment your little one on the things that they did well and make sure that you give them the chance to show their work to friends and family.

Consider setting up a craft shelf in your home where your child can exhibit the 'latest works' from their growing 'collection'.

Be flexible

When you're crafting with your kids, don't feel compelled to follow instructions to the letter. Allow yourself to be creative and if a different idea strikes, let yourself go there. If may not work but by the same token it just might turn out to be the most brilliant idea you've ever had.

Have fun!

Remember that fun is what it's all about. Not doing it right, or doing it independently, creatively, quickly, neatly or even getting it done at all! Whenever I find myself taking things a bit too seriously I find that it helps to deliberately make a big goofy mistake and having a good chuckle about it with the kids.

Good luck and happy crafting!


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