Before I had kids, I had visions of what parenting would be like. One of those visions was of all the wonderful projects, crafts and activities we would do together. I imagined those carefully crafted final products creatively hung around the home: picture perfect for crafting magazines. While the reality does involve creative art hung all over the house, most of those 'finished products' these days aren't things for the crafting books.
As I've immersed myself in parenting and learning alongside my children, I've moved further and further away from the idea of the finished product. Sure, their are times when I see the cute little holiday item or am reminded of a favorite craft from my childhood, but these days, these crafts are the jumping off place: the place where creativity starts. I am moving away from crafting with the end product in mind to crafting for the joy of process.
Part of this shift has come from the realization that in order to raise creative children, I need to embrace the creative process. When we work on a specific craft, my children learn how to follow directions, perhaps they learn a new skill, and they learn to take pride in finishing something, but they don't learn creativity. Emphasizing that finished product only means that there is an end product that will be judged as 'good enough.' Even the words we use to celebrate children's artwork often reflect how well a child completed a specific task and does not reflect the joy and love of the process itself.
Children appreciate the process innately. It is one of the greatest lessons they share with us. Have you ever sat down with a child and worked on a craft alongside them with a specific product in mind? Perhaps you've sat down to make a turkey out of a traced hand on a piece of paper. Pretty soon instead of careful coloring, your child has cut out all the finger and glued them on top of each other, simply because gluing is fun.
Much of the artwork around our home these days is simple sheets of treasured paper with odd lines, pieces of random objects glued about, and strange cut out shapes. These are not the things for crafting books and magazines but embracing the creative process frees our children to explore. Sure there are days when we have a specific craft in mind, but most of the time our crafting time is spent with a variety of different supplies available. The best part about open art time is instead of hovering over the children's shoulders trying to help with something, I am sitting beside them crafting right along with them.
These days in our home it is all about the creative process.