By Kate Findlay, owner of online gift retailer Peach Perfect.
Well-known for its handpicked collections of beautiful and practical presents, Peach Perfect’s lovely range of craft kits are popular with children and parents alike.
Kate passionately believes in encouraging kids’ natural creativity, and here she explains why taking part in craft activities is so important for all children and families.
One of my favourite quotes about creativity is by Maya Angelou, who famously said: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Watch children with scissors, felt, putty or paint in their hands and it’s fascinating to see their unfolding imagination at work, as well as their final creations!
So encourage them to switch off their Xboxes and phones this summer and get crafting instead! Here are just some of the ways in which they (and your whole family) will benefit…
Creating connections in the brain
Scientists are finding out more and more about the amazing plasticity of the human brain. We know that the average two year old’s brain is already about 4/5 of its adult size and rapidly making lots of new neural connections. A year later, it’s working twice as hard as an average adult’s brain and pruning many connections to work more effectively, according to research by Save the Children.
If young kids’ creativity is encouraged, this helps to build stronger neural connections, which in turn supports their physical and mental development. There’s lots more about this in the BBC iWonder guide to arts and crafts, but the bottom line is ‘use it or lose it’. When children are involved in craft activities, they’re creating a positive cycle of practice and reward, which helps them to think more imaginatively and feel happier too.
Learning new skills and interests
Joining in with craft activities can help even very shy children to interact with others, by distracting them from their negative thoughts and reducing anxiety. In addition, small, creative group work enables children to learn to take turns, share ideas and work collaboratively.
There are of course a huge amount of thriving local art and craft groups for kids, many of whom offer free trial sessions. Museums and art galleries around the country also host a wide range of events and workshops during the summer. You’ll find everything from heavy metal themed crafts at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Arts Detectives activities at London’s Royal Academy or textiles, sculpture or printmaking classes (for young people aged 11-25) at the National Centre for Craft & Design in Sleaford. Check out what’s happening near you now!
Improving resilience and mental health
Working on art and craft activities is a fun way for children to learn how to solve problems and build resilience to overcome obstacles. Research has also shown that crafting helps children to relax and can improve wellbeing, as mental health problems continue to rise in the UK. According to the Mental Health Foundation, about one in ten children and young adults are now affected.
The Crafts Council’s national Craft Club campaign encourages local communities to set up clubs running creative activities. These may benefit children whose schools have cut their arts and crafts budget, those struggling with social anxiety and mental health problems, and other members of the community who want to get involved in local crafting. MIND also has information about art and creative therapy sessions which can help some children with emotional and behavioural problems.
Remember that doing craft activities with children is a great opportunity to make memories that may last for years. Here’s my lovely godson busy making some more in the garden below!
If you’re looking for inspiration for craft gifts for kids, there’s plenty of ideas in Peach Perfect’s Crafts & Hobbies Collection. Why not try making a theatre in a box, building a 3D model spacecraft, jewellery designing or sewing for beginners? Younger children will love to grow their own jungle garden, those aged 7+ will enjoy knitting a teddy bear and older children will be fascinated by our new Puffin needle felting kit. Whatever crafts activities you choose, have a very happy and creative summer!
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