Crafts can be fun, but are they good for you? In a Kidspot article entitled “Benefits of Craft for Kids“, the author lists a handful of the benefits for children engaging in craft activities. Did you know that crafting stimulates the child’s imagination to create their own entertainment, and helps grow their confidence in their own ability to make decisions? In response to the question “Do Arts & Crafts Help A Preschool Kid?, Naudain Academy suggests that crafting contributes to the development of a variety of valuable skills including social, communication, fine motor, and problem solving skills. Most educators and parents seem to agree that crafting is highly beneficial for young children, but the confidence wanes when asked to consider crafts for older children and adults. Is there a point at which doing crafts becomes a waste of time?
Let’s define a craft activity, because it is often confused with art. Crafting is a goal-oriented activity, where the end result is well defined (usually by some external source like a set of instructions). An art-focused activity is an open-ended, expressive activity where the end result is less clearly defined by an external source and is instead usually determined by the artist. For example, if you are doing a craft to make a paper box with specific dimensions, the end result may not be perfect, but if you followed the instructions, you should end up with an item that is clearly identifiable as a paper box with a predictable size. An art assignment may be stated this way: “paint a picture of your mother”. About all you know in advance is that the end product will involve paint and possibly something that resembles a woman, but it is the artist who decides what the picture will look like. Although creativity is most often associated with the arts, crafting activities can (and should) be designed to stimulate the imagination and motivate the crafter to think outside the box.
So let’s again visit the possibility that crafts stop being beneficial once children reach school age. Are crafts really a waste a time for older children and adults? I believe crafting remains beneficial throughout a person’s lifetime. I also believe that the most beneficial crafts are those designed to stimulate the imagination i.e. craft-oriented arts or art-oriented crafts. When the benefits of both arts and crafts are married in a single product or activity, you get the most bang for your buck (if you think of learning and developing skills as an investment in yourself or your children).
So how are crafts good for you?
- crafts offer an opportunity to practise the skill of following instructions
- crafts encourage the development of a practical skill (e.g. cutting, sewing, carving, color coordinating, etc.) that can often be used outside the craft environment
- crafts have a clearly defined end point which enables and develops the skill of self-evaluation (i.e. the crafter can compare their progress to their goal or expected outcome throughout the process)
- crafts develop patience
- crafts offer the reward of a sense of accomplishment once the goal is achieved
- crafts offer the opportunity to create practical or useful items, thereby providing a tangible return on the time and money invested in the project
- crafts demonstrate, in a practical way, the link between having a goal and taking steps to achieve the goal
- crafting helps you de-stress by forcing you to focus on the task at hand and distracting you from thoughts or activities that exacerbate anxiety and depression
If you have the choice, select a craft activity that stimulates your imagination, encourages problem-solving, and requires creative thinking. Next time you have the option to buy entertainment products, consider buying a simple craft kit instead. The benefits of crafting extend well beyond what the average video game or movie can offer you. Crafting is good for you, and you don’t need to be an artist to craft.