For children, there are seemingly limitless benefits to participation in art- and craft-based activities: learning to observe and process the world around them, healthy self-expression, manual dexterity, right-brain activation, problem solving skills, a developing aesthetic awareness, and social interaction being only a few examples. As adults, we may consciously choose to engage children in artistic pursuits in order to help them learn and grow. Or we may selfishly choose to craft with kids for the many lessons they unknowingly offer in return.
While we adults are largely focused on our fast-paced, get-ahead lifestyles, thinking of product over process, children are rooted in the present: the sound of a crayon mark or brushstroke, analyzing the consistency of glue, or creating a perfect arc. Alternately rapid and deliberate, the results express feelings over thought, and may ultimately lead to the perfect merger of the two. The physical actions of crafting, for kids, are as exuberant and spontaneous as the end results. Paint drips, gobs of glue, and glitter on the floor seem annoying to the adults in charge, but how can you measure that against creative joy? Instead we should give ourselves the license to act like kids – focused, intuitive, playful, even excessive – and give up our predictable and formulaic solutions to aesthetics and life.
by Sarah K. Warner