Children develop with or without enriching activities however without them their development is short-changed. Arts and crafts are enriching activities that contribute to several developmental skills which include, among many, cognitive, motor, language, verbal problem-solving, and goal-setting skills. Covered in this article is the positive influence of arts and crafts activities on language and verbal problem-solving skills. Other skills mentioned here will be covered in future articles.
Expanded Vocabulary and Object Recognition
As soon as children are born, language skills begin to development. A baby’s babbling turns into single syllable words which become more complex and expand to multiple word sentences. Without verbal interaction with others, language skills would be severely lacking. So what does this have to do with arts and crafts? Interactions between the child, adult and other children involved the art and craft (or any activity) benefit language development. These benefits include expanded vocabulary and object recognition skills, development of verbal problem solving skills, and increased communication skills through discussing and describing while creating their project. To facilitate these benefits, participate in creative activities with your children.
While participate in the activity with your child, continually talk out loud about what you are doing. Name objects as you pick them up. Ask the child to hand you an object, especially if they do not know what it is. In addition, if an item or process is known by different names interchange the use of them. For example, popsicle sticks are also called craft sticks. Other words for gluing are adhering, attaching, binding, connecting and so forth. Mix up your vocabulary and labels.
While conversing with your child, especially with younger children, it is important to keep directions tailored to their age or skill level however do not “dumb” down the conversation or use “baby talk”. Speak in a tone you would use with an older child or adult. Add in words and labels the child does not know. Give the meaning of the word only if the child asks otherwise you risk a response such as, “I know what that means. I’m not dumb.”
Verbal Problem Solving
Do not do all of the talking. Ask the child to explain what they are doing and why. Have the child teach you how to do something. You could remark that you like how they completed part of their project and ask them show you how to do it. Ask questions as they direct you. If you don’t understand, tell them so. This will give them a chance to clarify their directions. If you see the child struggling, ask them to explain what it is they are trying to do. Ask questions such as, “What do think will work?” or “What have you thought about trying?” Jumping in and offering to help will deprive them of the chance to solve their own problem and decrease their frustration tolerance. If the child immediately asks for help, asks the previous questions to guide them towards solving their own problems.
As you work, make comments on decisions or problems you encounter as you work. “I need to get this bead to stick here. I am not sure how to do it. Maybe I will try this.” If it doesn’t work, continue to talk about what else you will try. Demonstrate what steps to take with a frustrating problem you cannot solve. “Darn. This bead is making me angry. It will not stick here.” Can you help me with this, please?” This is a positive demonstration of feeling recognition, problem-solving and helping skills.
Given the opportunity to participate in enriching arts and crafts activities, children can increase their language and problem-solving skills with the right environment. This sets up a situation where you are able to show the child instead of telling the child. The added bonus is that the learning becomes effortless with fun-filled arts and crafts activities.