I am sure you and your family are looking forward to some Christmas “downtime” as much as I am. This term has been a happy but long one, and we are all in need of a well-deserved rest. The Christmas holiday period is always a very special time and provides us with the opportunity to pause for thought, rein back on lots of frantic activities, switch off the alarm clock and spend time with friends and family. Perhaps this year, as an alternative to last minute shopping and ‘To Do’ lists, why not embrace the joy of getting crafty at home and create some original homemade gifts, wrapping or decorations.
Finding time for making and creating makes us happier, calmer and more satisfied and is great fun too! Cutting out, gluing, painting, modelling with playdough; doing these things is strangely transformative. Fine motor skills are so incredibly important to children of all ages and getting crafty with your child is a fun way to practise them. When children have the opportunity to manipulate art materials through cutting, sticking or sewing, they are developing these skills as they use those small muscles in their hands. Art and craft activities also give children a sense of achievement and allow them to take pride in their work, which in turn builds their confidence. It’s a great, safe way to discover that it’s okay to make mistakes and that getting things ‘wrong’ can lead to a whole exciting new idea.
Many academic studies show that the benefits of crafting are measurable. Creative crafts not only support fine motor skill development but also problem solving ability and decision making. These activities shouldn’t be insular and solitary. Making things and getting messy presents the opportunity to work alongside siblings and parents and whether it is simply talking about everyday events in school and home or engaging in some really meaningful conversations, time spent together allows us to create lifelong memories to cherish. And as an even bigger bonus, your children won’t be looking at a screen!
When our 7+ candidates visit us this January, I will be just as interested in assessing their creative and problem solving skills as I will be in their ability to draft a well written story and demonstrate their maths prowess. Showing enjoyment of the creative process is often an indicator of a fine mind; skill in this area is just as important as ability in academic subjects.
Engaging in art and crafts can share the love with others too. Half the fun is in creating something with your own hands, and the other half is in seeing the delighted face of the person who is enjoying your creation. In our busy lives, it’s so important to slow down, channel our creativity and show appreciation for those we love. It can help children process their thoughts, or it can work as a necessary pause from our tendency to overthink and worry too much.
So please enjoy your Christmas holidays and come back in January 2020 relaxed and refreshed. If you manage to make some crafty memories along the way, then so much the better!
By Mrs Mortimer - Head of LEH Junior School