I’m often asked whether a child is too young to craft and the answer is always no! You can start encouraging creativity even while your child is very young by selecting appropriate materials and achievable goals.
I regularly run sessions for pre-school children. The first time parents come along they may wonder whether their child will be able to join in, but they quickly find that they needn’t have worried.
Crafts for very young children can be loads of fun and extremely rewarding, resulting in quality time for you both.
Here’s my top tips for ensuring a great, early crafting experience.
1. Make it flexible and fun!
The last thing you want when sitting down to craft is a battle. If you have a very specific outcome in mind, and your child is not in the mood, it could end up being the opposite of the enjoyable experience you are after. Try to be open-minded about the outcome. Maybe set a theme but not a specific way of reaching it.
For our seaside themed sessions we start off with some sand and a whole load of materials to select from. You can then provide templates or idea for the child to work on but allow them the freedom to do it their way. If they want to stick stars on lollypop sticks then just let them, maybe it could turn into a ship’s mast or colourful seaweed for your scene. Purple and orange waves? Why not!
The smallest children probably won’t get the concept of a theme, but with a selection of materials in front of them you can still give them the freedom to create something wonderful.
2. Pick materials wisely
With small children you need to pick age appropriate materials carefully anyway, you don’t want a tummy full of craft items or a rush to the doctors! Even with age suited items, have a look and see if you think they will be good for your child, or frustrate them. Are stickers big enough for them to peel, or are they just going to end up frustrated with sticky shapes all over their hands? Sometimes just getting some craft foam and cutting your own bigger, fun shapes is a lot easier for them to manage. Don’t worry about buying a load of expensive materials, a box full of the basics will keep your child amused and not stress you out with the cost.
3. Tailor the mess level to your wishes!
Some people don’t mind mess and won’t be worried about this anyway, but I know that others would prefer things a little more controlled and this shouldn’t stop you planning activities. When you pick crafts just make sure if stays within the mess boundaries you want. During dry days you could take your crafts outside into the garden, if you have one, and maybe have a little more freedom there, but if it’s indoors and you don’t want paint over the place then pick a craft from the start that will fit what you need. Ziplock bag painting is a great way for your child to experiment with colours and paint if you want it to stay contained!
4. Pick your timing
You’ll know the times of day when your child is happiest, and when they can be a bit grouchy. Pick your crafting time carefully to fit around this as the last thing you want is for them to connect crafts with tiredness and dread the sight of the apron and materials appearing! In the same way don’t pick a time of day where you know you have to dash out soon, allow time for them to explore and create what they want.
5. Join in and enjoy it too!
Crafts are for all ages, so get stuck in making your own and helping your child with theirs. They’ll be learning with you and having loads of fun on the way.