In our previous Bright Young Things blog post, we explained why it’s important for children to have hobbies, and how they can help with early development in a variety of ways, especially in an age where digital media and technology can easily hamper individual expression.

We listed some performance-based examples which instead stimulate creative thinking and can become long-term passions, such as getting involved in drama! Now, with schools and nurseries in Northern Ireland closing due to COVID-19 and months ahead to try and fill for children at home, we’re looking at why arts and crafts are a perfect pastime to keep their minds active!

BYT’s classes all have dedicated sections for arts and crafts to ensure participants can enjoy slower, creative moments of mask and prop making, in order to break up the high energy, stimulating drama exercise. This attention to children’s need for high or low energy, big or intimate focus is a huge part of BYT’s ethos of learning through play.

The benefits of arts and crafts hobbies

The sight of a child lost in concentration surrounded by a mess of materials can be one of the most pleasing things for a parent. There is a sense of both independence and achievement as your little one works unaided or unrestricted on creating something all by themselves. They may have an end product in mind with crafts, or be letting their imaginations roam free on a blank page, either way there’ll be a lot of little sparks going off, invisibly training their brains in countless ways.

Allowing children to engage with arts and crafts based hobbies will help their fine motor skills become stronger, because of the precise movements and coordination often needed when creating something by hand. Their concentration will also increase, as the determination to complete projects develops. Cognitive skills will really come on too, particularly with crafts, as minds are exercised in working out solutions to each step.

These hobbies can foster key social skills that create a foundation for how to behave around other people. The endless possibilities of what can be made as well as coming into contact with art of other cultures should encourage children to be more open-minded. They should learn through seeing family and friends’ creations that there can be more than one point of view, and grow to appreciate the abilities of others while accepting their own current capabilities. And maybe most importantly children can communicate their emotions through art, whether through the colours they’ve chosen or just the way in which they’ve created something as their own.

What’s more, the quiet, meditative nature of many arts and crafts hobbies, can relieve stress even a child might already have in their life. It could just be that it’s more relaxing than the noise and bustle of school. For a balance that’s good for mental health and wellbeing, it’s important that there be a mix of both busier environments and the opportunity to get away through a nice, peaceful passtime!

Arts and crafts activities to try at home

  • Drawing or tracing
  • Fingerpaints
  • Painting with acrylic or watercolour
  • Scrapbook or collage making
  • Clay or playdough figure sculpting
  • Model making
  • Knitting/crochet
  • Jewellery making
  • Comic book art
  • Origami
  • Photography
  • Cake decorating
  • Calligraphy
  • Pottery
  • Paper art

What you can do to make arts and crafts hobbies accessible

The first step to awakening your child’s creative mind is by either having the tools and materials available to them to give whatever artform it may be a try. Have at least a basic art set and supplies in the home so that they can choose to pick them up independently whenever they may feel like it. You can also bring them along to any events or venues that facilitate kids arts and crafts to give them experience of doing it in a social setting.

While it can be a good thing to allow children space to express themselves comfortably with some of the hobbies, it’s important that parents be involved and show an active interest in their child’s progress. Put their masterpieces on display and create alongside them. Engaging in fun, creative activities together can form some of happiest, most vivid memories for families.

Finally, give your child every opportunity to pursue any passions they develop through arts and crafts further. Michigan State University has conducted research into the link between creative arts during childhood and later career success, that those who engage in them early on are more likely to produce original ideas, concepts and more. Talents can be turned into trades and disciplines, so keep hold of those precious fridge artworks and celebrate each and every one of them!

Creativity is embedded in all of our teaching to help children blossom at BYT. Get involved now by checking upcoming classes and camps your children could be part of. For further ideas and help introducing arts and crafts we would recommend you check out All of Me Sensory, run by Carly Craig. Carly is Northern Ireland’s leading sensory play expert who offers training and resources for professionals as well as parents. Get in touch and see and arrange a workshop or consultation and see what Carly can do for you!

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