Plato never got to make bugs out of egg carton pieces and pipe cleaners. Queen Elizabeth never made a sixteenth century mask out of a paper plate and googly eyes. Abraham Lincoln never crafted a snowflake by weaving variegated yarn around popsicle sticks.
Miserable failures, all of them.
When I think of all the successful and celebrated individuals of history who didn’t have access to preschool arts and crafts, I can’t summon up much interest in breaking out the pom-pom balls and glitter but I still feel guilty for not doing it. I think I’m a fairly creative person, but to be honest I can’t get excited about pipe cleaner bugs and googly eyes.
When I look at websites about preschool and realize that lots of programs include “arts and crafts” that we don’t do I’m tempted to think I’m failing as a mom and a teacher. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mistaken belief that you have to do everything the same way everyone else does.
In our homeschool preschool, we do a lot other than crafts – good things, things we like, things that work for us. And yet, when I think back to my own preschool years, I remember crafts fondly and wonder if I’m depriving my kids. My favorite was one day when we were allowed to draw with melting crayons on a tinfoil covered hot plate. Y’all, as I type this I am LONGING to do that again, it is so satisfying to feel a crayon melt. I don’t know what that says about me. But honestly, even though I know they would love it, I would never let my kids do that craft at my house. With our luck we’d wind up with melted crayon all in the carpet and upholstery and someone would set their hair on fire or accidentally tattoo their sibling. I admit it: I am weak, and I am not going there.
When I’m tempted to compare myself to other more crafty moms or preschool programs, I try to remind myself that all moms are different and all kids are different. Some people are really into crafts and I think that’s great. Some people are really into sports or languages or cooking or mechanical things. Every family has its own culture and that’s a good thing.
One thing I’m learning as a mom is that it’s a good thing to expose children to a lot of different experiences and concepts, but it’s a bad thing to imagine you have to expose them to EVERY experience and EVERY concept all at once. All you get in that case is a frustrated and harried mama and overscheduled overstimulated kids. It’s not worth it.
So for us, for now, crafts are out the window. Do you struggle as a parent with determining what activities to pursue and what opportunities to pass up? Do you have a family policy about it or a clear definition of what’s important to your family? If so, does it change over time?