Faigie Kobre, the originator of what she calls educational arts and crafts, wants to share with you how the crafts we often give our kids can be detrimental and not as beneficial as we might think. She has many posts on how to do this at her blog www.eduart4kids.com
To be honest, you might find this post a little shocking and almost upsetting since this is basically how most of us and most schools teach our kids, but I do feel her perspective is important to consider. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
“Flowers Are Red”
If you’re a mom who loves to hang out with her kids, then you are probably always looking for fun activities to do with them. Many of the activities you often do are crafts projects as kids love to glue and cut and paint and the web is full of websites offering free craft ideas. What if I tell you that a good portion of the crafts you do with your kids are not only non-educational but they are very possibly detrimental to your kids as well?
Sounds crazy? Remember Harry Chapin of “Cats in the Cradle” fame? Well! Harry wrote another great song that is not as famous as “Cats in the Cradle” but is equally as important in message. In his song “Flowers are Red,” he sings of a little boy who goes to school and uses his crayons to make all kinds of beautiful pictures.
His teacher stops him and asks him what he is doing. When he says he is painting pictures, she tells him to stop. Not only that but “flowers are red young man, and green leaves are green, there’s no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always have been seen.” The little boy fights valiantly to keep his creativity alive but the teacher ends up squashing it and he starts painting flowers the way everyone else does. After a bit of time he moves to another town and his teacher there is the friendly, smiley type. She tells him, “There are so many colors in a flower so let’s use every one… but that little boy made a flower and he made it green and red.” His first teacher has successfully suppressed any innate creativity this little boy had.
Harry Chapin was addressing a real live problem that goes on in so many of our schools. However, this scenario is also repeated is so many homes as parents continue to give their kids 99% what I call “copycat crafts.”
What are “copycat crafts” are exactly?
There is a lot of talk about the importance of creativity for kids but when it comes down to it, many adults think that as long as children are gluing and coloring, they are being creative. Copycat crafts are what you find in most early childhood public schools and all over the web.
This means that the adult decides on the projects and then creates a model or shows a model to the child to copy. Hence the name copycat crafts. Many craft proponents support these crafts with two well-known sayings: “ the kids love the crafts” or “they are developing their fine motor coordination.”
The answer to the first one is “so what that they love them.” They love candy and staying up way past their bedtime as well. But is it GOOD for them? And yes the only thing these crafts may be helpful for is actually a bit of toning of fine motor coordination. However, many other skills are being sacrificed on the altar of fine motor coordination. Fine motor coordination can easily be helped with some fun sewing projects yet by giving kids these crafts over and over again there are four basic detrimental things that are happening to them.
- The children are not getting any thinking or problem solving when they are doing these so called creative crafts. Children need to be using their thinking skills from a very young age to develop their minds and raise their cognitive levels. When they don’t get to think or solve any problems in creating these crafts, then their brains start getting mushy.
- There is no initiative. When kids are taught to follow directions like robots, they cannot create on their own when they are given open-ended materials. They have no idea what to do with them and sit there waiting for instructions.(I have seen this firsthand.)
- Creativity goes underground: How creative can kids be when all they have to do is follow the adult’s directions with no input from them aside from which color crayon should they use?
- Self esteem tanks. There are a few things that help a child’s self esteem rise. One of them is when we show that we trust children. When we trust children to be able to create their own crafts at their own developmental level, then children deep down feel a great sense of self. Another way is when we allow the children to create arts and crafts that are their own and individualistic. Imagine walking into a kindergarten classroom and seeing 20 identical squirrels (in cardboard form ) strung across the room. How good can a child feel when he or she cannot even tell which of the art projects is theirs. There is nothing that builds esteem as well for a child who can look up at a project and can tell exactly which is hers without even reading her name on it.
Truly creative flower pictures by kids
Parents and even many teachers are really well meaning and for the most part have absolutely no idea what damage they are doing to their children by giving them copycat crafts over and over again.
If you go to an elementary school classroom, give them some paper, glue and scissors and ask them to create something you will very easily be able to pick out the children that have been allowed to create at their own developmental level.
If you want some great ideas on how to incorporate these ideas into your child’s arts and crafts projects, check out www.eduart4kids.com
About the author
Faigie Kobre is a former preschool teacher and director. She is a mother of 6, grandmother of 3 and is passionate about teaching teachers and parents about art and crafts for kids that is developmentally good for them. She has many ideas and projects that you can find at her blog www.eduart4kids.com. She has a free report “Can Crafts for Kids Make my Kids Smarter” where you can pick up at www.educationalartsandcrafts.com
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Find some fun craft ideas on our Activities for Preschoolers Resource Page.
Also, if you’ve published a post with your own craft ideas, link it up there.