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Does the though of setting your little darling loose with a bottle of glue and a handful of glitter make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end? Do scissors and paints haunt you when you sleep? Not to fear, many a mother has cowered in fear when thinking about doing arts and crafts with their littles, but did you know that those wonderfully messy activities are good for your child’s brain?
Recent studies have shown that arts and crafts are not only good for social/emotional development, but cognitive development as well. Dr. Richard Rende, a developmental psychologist, researcher, educator and author, focuses on the link between parenting practices, family interaction, and emotional and behavioral development. Rende has conducted several studies that show the benefits that crafts can have on cognitive development. Let’s look at some of those benefits.
Coordination may sound more like it falls more into the developmental category of gross motor skills, but your child’s bilateral coordination is a good indicator that their cognitive development is on track. If you are wondering what bilateral coordination is, it is the ability for your child to use both sides of their brain at the same time (an example would be touching their left hand to their right foot). Arts and crafts time with your child activates several different areas of their brains at the same time, improving on this vital developmental element.
Visual Processing Skills
Not only does arts and crafts time with your child help with coordination, but it also helps with your child’s ability to process things visually (such as recognizing patterns). Visual processing skills are your child’s ability to see and assess the visual information around them. Not only is this vital for early reading and math skills, it is also essential to complete everyday tasks and functions. If a child were to have severely under-developed visual processing skills they would be have difficulty completing simple functions; such as riding a bike or playing catch.
Executive Functioning Skills
Does handing over the glitter glue and wiggly eyes and letting your child have free reign sound like a nightmare? Believe it or not, by giving your little art monster some more independence, you are fostering their executive functioning skills. Executive functioning skills are responsible for impulse and emotional control, memory, self-regulation, planning and organizing, as well as task initiation (taking action and getting a project started). Want you child to be a boss in the board room? Let her have some freedom with the construction paper and markers.
Along with all of the above cognitive benefits your child will experience, arts and crafts will also develop social interactions. This bonding time with your child will help develop their social emotional skills; such as being able to differentiate between emotions. Arts and crafts time will also help your child build up those all important fine motor skills (essential for writing) as well as language skills from listening and repeating back the instructions you give them.
Ready to jump in and craft with your child? Get started with this simple apple craft:
Gather your supplies:
- white, red, and green construction paper
- kid-safe scissors
- marker or pencil
1.) First, fold your white paper in half, long-ways, and draw half of an apple (kind of like a heart, but with a round bottom)
2.) Next, have you child cut the shape you just drew with the scissors. If you have a younger child you may need to help them
3.) After you cut out your apple shape, have your child rip up the red and green construction paper into small pieces
4.) When the construction paper is ripped up, let your child cover the apple shape in glue and then sprinkle the red and green paper on top
5.) Let dry and proudly display!