Call me old fashioned and boring (my kids do it all the time), but I am not a fan of kids spending endless amounts of time immersed in digital media, either playing video games, watching TV, or with social media.
In addition to the hidden perils of the internet and the undesirable influence of advertising, it is hard to dispute the negative aspects of excessive screen time, which has been implicated in everything from obesity and ADHD to sleep deprivation and depression.
In honor of National Craft Month, I'd like to make a simple proposal to parents — for a few hours in a day, turn off your TVs and computers, sequester your digital devices, and by all means, put those video games back in the cabinet and spend some time with your kids doing a craft. While on the surface it may seem anachronistic in the digital age, the simple fact of the matter is, kids enjoy doing crafts, and they are good for their development.
Plus, crafts are a great way to spend time with your children, and here are 10 good reasons why.
1. Quality time with your kids
Making crafts are just an ideal way to be engaged with your children and share in a fun activity where you have each other's attention. Let's face it, when families spend time in front of the screen, it is tantamount to ignoring one another.
2. Use their imagination
When children (and adults) do crafts, they are working with a blank slate and have to be imaginative and creative. This is in marked contrast to screen time, where these mental processes are essentially shut down.
3. Teach socialization
Crafting can be a wonderful group activity that brings children and adults together to teach sharing, cooperation, and good social dynamics.
4. Economical fun
Making crafts can be incredibly economical, making use of old, unused items around the house. Just about anything is fair game, and it teaches kids the important lesson that fun is not about spending money.
5. Develop fine motor skills
Whether it's cutting, pasting, tearing, folding, or pinning, making crafts allows kids to practice fine motor skills in a relaxed, fun, and rewarding atmosphere.
6. Get away from the screen
When kids are engaged in a fun activity like crafting, they are not letting their brains go soft in front of the TV or video game console. That alone should be reason enough to do crafts.
7. Relieves boredom
There's nothing like a fun craft project to engage bored children. While they may express disdain, I can assure you that once the project begins, their interest will be piqued.
8. Empower kids and build their confidence
Making something out of nothing and setting little to no boundaries encourages kids to take chances and express them freely. When they have some say in the direction, it will make them more confident about their ideas, decisions, and abilities.
9. Encourage individuality and self-expression
Art in any form is all about expression, regardless of its complexity. Crafts are a great way to introduce kids to this concept and encourage them to let their feelings flow freely.
10. Reduce, reuse, and recycle
Making crafts reinforces the important lesson that having fun is not about buying more stuff, and sends the message that reusing and recycling things can be fun, even if it may seem like garbage.
If you're looking for ideas, just remember that the sky is the limit. You can do just about anything. My daughter used to make outfits from tissue paper (i.e., Kleenex), and my son had endless fun with mud. Homemade Play Dough is a great project to make and enjoy.
Some invaluable resources include paper, scissors, and tape or glue, and kids can make just about anything. Old magazines, newspapers, and pieces of cloth are great for making collages, and origami projects are always fun and very rewarding. Think about seasonal things, and don't limit your craft projects to stuff inside the house. Gather rocks, dirt, sand, leaves, and sticks or blades of grass.
Food can be a fun craft project, including cookies, cakes, and cupcakes. You don't have to cook to enjoy food crafts; noodles and beans can be glued into patterns, as can be old pistachio shells or lentils.
From all of us at Parenting Squad, we wish you a Happy National Craft Month!