One of my regrets is that I didn't do enough hands on activities with my older children. Books are easy - you pick them up, read them, and (eventually) put them away again. Art and crafts are harder. They make messes that need to be cleared up. They require preparation. Over planning can lead to frustration when the child doesn't want to do your project, your way. Under planning means nothing will happen. This time round I want to push art and craft activities right up my priority list and make them a regular part of our day, rather than an extra that may or (more often) may not happen. Art and craft has such a lot to offer young children - it aids concentration, helps them to develop fine motor skills, encourages creativity, and gives them the satisfaction of seeing something they have made. It can tie in with every area of education - I love the idea of Waldorf style "main lesson" books, in which the child records their learning largely in art (at least in the earlier years). While I wouldn't want to start main lesson books too early, I would like to start to develop the skills that would make them an enjoyable part of learning later.
- Work creative activities into the daily routine. For me this is the biggest challenge!
- First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos by Mary Ann Kohl - this has many, many suggestions for open-ended creative activities for little ones. She has also published a series of Preschool art books.
- Model creativity - draw, paint and create myself. I enjoy most crafts, but drawing and painting are a challenge for me. I manage OK with a nature notebook or if I have instructions to follow, but a blank piece of paper and a pencil frighten me.
- Have an art centre with a selection of baskets and trays containing appropriate activities available, Montessori style, and rotate them regularly. (I'm thinking along the lines of these Christmas art activities from Theresa at LaPaz Home Learning.)
- Buy good quality materials - I'm not a purist about art materials, but I do think it makes sense to let children use better quality materials as soon as they are able to make proper use of them. I love the idea of the beeswax crayons and modelling wax used in Waldorf education and will definitely want to add them to our art supplies.
- Keep a file of liturgical craft ideas - but be prepared for Little Cherub to develop them in her own way (do not fixate on how the finished product "should" look!)