10 Things to Avoid When Starting a Craft Project
Sometimes the best ways to ensure success is to know the pitfalls beforehand so they can be avoided. Before I tell you some sure-fire ways to make crafting with your kids a joy, let's look at the deadly dampeners — the things you need to avoid.
1. Being Unprepared
You've set aside the time to do a project with your child and both of you have been looking forward to it. You've got the picture of the finished product and can't wait to get started. Then you spend the next two hours walking from room to room, rummaging through drawers and closets looking for the things you need. You finally end up going out to the store because you forgot something.
When crafting, resist the temptation to "wing it." Read through the project instructions thoroughly before you start. Make sure you have all the materials you need in one place, that they're in good working order, and that you have enough to complete the project. Being able to simply sit down and begin will keep the enthusiasm and interest high and your nerves calm.
2. Beginning with a Project That's Too Difficult
It's easy to overestimate your own ability (and your child's) when you see something you like in a picture and want it for your own, but there's nothing more discouraging than getting part-way through a project and finding you don't have to skills to complete it. Make an honest evaluation of the skills needed and determine how much your child can actually do without your help, plus be sure you can do the steps that might be too difficult for your child. Be careful of expectations that are too high.
If you're learning a craft for the first time, start with something extra-simple to get the feel of the tools, materials, and techniques. Practice the techniques on something that doesn't count first before actually beginning a project. If the project is relatively easy, your child will gain confidence and quickly want to try something more challenging. Follow up as soon as possible with a more advanced project and explore other aspects of the craft whenever your child seems ready.
3. Not Allowing Enough Time
Perhaps Friday night would make a good Family Crafts Night since kids don't have to worry about getting homework done and adults generally don't have to contemplate work in the morning. Make it special: Order supper out or make something ahead you can just pop in the oven to create more time to concentrate on crafts.
If you try to make a stained-glass window between soccer practice and supper, you're almost guaranteed a pile of broken glass and cut fingers.
You need time to do things right, and that's true of any activity, no matter how seemingly uncomplicated it is. Give yourself and your child time — to think, to enjoy what you're doing, to be creative, to experiment, and to enjoy each other.
Part of what makes crafting so enjoyable, and, as some doctors believe, healthy to do is that it slows us down and helps us relax. Rushing through a project is anything but relaxing and makes it more likely that we'll make mistakes or do a shoddy job. Schedule enough time to complete the project, clean up, and bask in the glow of your accomplishments.
4. Trying to Control Everything
Nothing can stifle enthusiasm and creativity faster than lack of freedom. Restrain your desires to orchestrate and control. Whenever possible, let your child make the decisions about color and design. Look for projects that allow variations and choices. Even if you're working on a structured project, give your child as much control of it as possible (while always observing safety precautions, of course).
Be patient and give your child time to struggle with something for a while. If she can't do it right away, don't take over, regardless of how tempting it is. Your unwanted "help" may actually hinder your child by sending the hidden message that you are disappointed with her or feel she's incompetent.
More on: Crafts for Kids
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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