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10 Reasons to craft with your kids - By BRIGITTE ROZARIO

Crafting is a great activity that parents and children can do together. It offers many benefits for mums, dads and little ones, too.

Crafting could be something simple like sticking pictures from a magazine onto a piece of art block paper. Or, it could be something more difficult like making a multi-coloured wax egg (parents who grew up in the 1970s will remember this one).

These days there are many centres and places that offer craft classes for children. For parents this is a way to get the children out of the house and out of their hair for an hour or two while mum and dad do the grocery shopping nearby. For kids, it's a chance to learn new craft ideas and see how creative the other children their
age are. However, crafting is not something that has to be “learnt”. You could do it at home with your little ones. All you need is whatever you have at home and your imagination. Old newspapers and magazines can be used, so can egg cartons and old shoe boxes.

Crafting has many benefits:
1) Developing fine motor skills. It helps small children develop their fine motor skills as they have to cut paper and even stick things together.
2) It helps children focus. Completing a craft takes determination and some amount of focus and discipline. As the result is satisfying and personally rewarding, children will want to finish it so they can show off the final product to their parents and friends.
3) Children learn to take instructions. If you are supervising and guiding the child, there will be instructions to be followed. This will help children with their listening skills.
4) Learning language. While crafting with your children you can teach them new words like “glue”, “stick”, “wax”, “cardboard” - basically anything that you use in the craft. You can also take the opportunity to introduce shapes and colours to your child.
5) Commitment. Children learn commitment by completing projects. By starting small, with crafts, children learn the satisfaction and pride of completing a project. Start small and as the child grows up introduce bigger and harder projects that will take more time. Encourage your child to complete the craft project rather than abandon one half-completed craft to start on a new one. Children are easily distracted. This is your opportunity to teach them to follow through with whatever they start so that there is a finished product, regardless of how good or bad it looks. Every piece of craft is a work of art, after all, and importantly you are teaching your child the benefits of commitment.
6) Enhancing problem solving skills. For the children who are a bit older, you can even show them a photo of a craft and ask them if they would like to recreate that. They can use whatever you have at home. This will force them to look at the photo carefully and find alternatives for items that can't be found in your home. While doing that, they will use their imagination and creativity and even learn to think out of the box.
7) Use their imagination. Crafting allows children to be creative and use their imagination. Often if you leave your child to do arts and crafts on their own, they will come up with some odd image or shape that looks unidentifiable to you. When you ask them what it is, then you will see how creative and imaginative your child is. You'll be amazed with what they might come up with.
8) Developing patience. As creating crafts takes time and demands that the child focus, it also requires patience. Your child will learn that everything is not easy to come by with the snap of their fingers. These days children are used to getting what they want when they want it – mum or dad will just buy it for them. Crafts, however, usually cannot be bought and they will have to patiently and diligently create it themselves.
9) Offline time. It's a great way to get your child into an activity that doesn't involve the TV, computer or a video screen.
10) Great bonding opportunity. Ultimately, crafting with your children gives you a chance to spend time with them. If you can get the whole family to craft together, all the better. While hands are busy crafting, children will often open up and talk about whatever pops into their head. You can also use the time to subtly ask them about topics you want to know more about such as their friends or school or how they feel about an issue.

If you are as excited about crafting as we at ParenThots are, then join us on Saturday, May 28, 2011 from 11am-2pm at the Main Atrium, Ground Floor, Tropicana City Mall, Petaling Jaya.

There will be five craft stations where your child will be able to work with fondant icing, recycled items, Tshirt painting, felt material and paper quilling. It's a great chance for families to bond over crafts.

See you there! As per usual, leave your kiasu-ness at home. Come with your sunny disposition and your smiley faces!

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