Every time I walk into a school classroom and see a wall filled with collaged flowers or painted cats which all look exactly the same, I cringe.
Every time I see a teacher make a “sample” for the little ones to follow and their busy little hands get to work trying to copy it exactly, I shake my head.
Teachers, please stop stunting the creative artistic development of your students by doing crafts in this way!
“But Kid’s Love Crafts!”
Teachers have been making these “copy-me crafts” with children ever since I was in school and they continue to do so because they believe that children love making them and that it develops hand-eye coordination and other skills.
Of course kids love them, because the process of cutting, gluing, painting and colouring is naturally fun for them. They also love the praise that they get when they colour within the lines and do a nice job copying the teacher.
However, what is this teaching them about art? These children are learning that art should look a certain way in order to be “good”. It teaches them that their own drawings are not acceptable because they don’t look like the example. I believe this is why I meet so many older children and teenagers who believe that they “can’t draw” and have trouble creating original art of their own.
Hand Over the Glue and Glitter and Step Away
What is the best way to do crafts with children?
First of all, give them the information and the techniques that they need to know to be successful in working with the materials. For example, show them how to use small dabs of glue so that it doesn’t soak through the paper. Teach them how to hold the scissors correctly so that they can cut a straight life. Show them what happens when you blend paint colours and how to create different techniques when shading with pencil crayon. Giving them these technical pointers is important so that they will be able to implement their creative vision and will not become frustrated with their materials.
Then, walk away.
Be patient and let the child realize their own artistic vision. Yes, the sky might turn out green and the dog might have five legs instead of four. The child might draw an incredibly detailed scene or might be happy painting everything bright orange. Let them go with it and empower them to put whatever is in their imaginations on paper.
Now that your students are no longer producing assembly line crafts and are expressing themselves freely, hang their unique creations on the walls with pride.
This is what creativity looks like.
Crafts are very important to a child’s creative development, so make sure that you encourage them to express their own unique vision. Visit www.craftsite.co.uk/ for high quality crafting supplies.