Well! the holidays are over and the kids are back in school and as some of you think over the recent vacation fondly, others are just glad to get on with their lives with the kids back in school. If you have young children than you may have spent part of your vacation doing crafts with your kids. That is usually a family friendly activity parents do with their children to spend some quality time with them and that is great.
What many parents do not realize however, is how those simple craft activities that they are doing with their children can affect the type of job opportunities their kids may have down the line. You may be thinking Huh? I know it sounds kinda strange, so let me explain.
Can The Style of Your Kids Crafts Affect Your Child’s Future?
A few years ago a book came out called “A Whole New Mind” by a fellow named Daniel Pink. His premise was very simple. He was discussing the job landscape of today and how so many of the jobs that many Americans have held, are being outsourced to workers in third world countries, for a fraction of the cost. For example: An American company paying a salary of $75,000 here can outsource the SAME exact work to a worker in another country for $15,000.
For a very long time our school systems here have put heavy concentration on left brain studies. Math, computers and logical kind of thinking is what we have been preparing our children for the workplace. The problem is that many of those third world countries have been doing the same thing. Not only that, but the workers there are more diligent, industrious and drink less beer than their American counterparts. PLUS they are willing to do the same work for less.
How Important is Creativity for Kids
So how can we compete? According to Mr. Pink it’s ” a whole new mind” that we have to cater to and that is the right brain that is often left to rot. Basically, creativity for kids is the new name of the game, because creativity is not something that can be replicated and studied making it more valuable. One has to be trained to think on ones own, solve problems, think out of the box and come up with solutions that nobody else has thought of. Unfortunately, our schools are not equipped to deal with this tidal change. The school system in America is still for the most part stuck in the same groove it’s been in for a hundred years or more.
Which brings us to the crafts that children make with their parents at home. The crafts done at home is only mimicking the type of crafts that is done in most schools, not only in the United States but, across the world. These type of crafts are copycat crafts. Crafts that are robotic in that they follow a model for children to follow without any input from the children. The reason that is done is because most teachers and parents in this country are very product and results conscious. They need a finished product to show off and have no patience of understanding of what children’s artwork should look like.
There is no understanding that children develop at slower rates than adults, they are not small adults. We have to be understanding of where they are in their development. The problem is that children’s work at very young ages at their level of development looks very messy and believe it or not “childish”. Many teachers and parents can’t deal with this and want things to look right, so they keep giving them crafts that is totally not suited to their developmental needs.
Creative Crafts to the Rescue
In order to start children off on their creative journey there are a few things you need to think about a project before giving it to the child:
- Does this project allow for choices (and I don’t just mean which color crayon to use)
- Is my child’s project going to look different from everyone’s based on the fact that he or she will allowed to create as he can
- Does my child have to solve any problems with this project
- Will my child feel good about what he accomplished with this project
Arts and crafts for kids should be accomplishing a few things. Firstly the child needs to feel good that she is being trusted to create what she wants to create and not what the adult wants her to create. Secondly, there needs to be some sort of problem that the child has to solve on his own. In can be as simple as choosing the materials he needs for the project or how to design a pattern. There has to be an element of creativity involved and it should encourage the child to take initiative.
What is happening when we give our children crafts that all look the same or they have to follow specific instructions, is that we are taking away from them the feeling that they can think on their own, be creative, make decisions and feel accomplished. They become robots and can only create what they are told to.
In this day and age when companies are looking for people that can think on their feet and make their own decisions, those are not the kind of people that companies are looking to hire and believe it or not, it all starts with kids creative crafts.