Why craft in preschool is a waste of time

Too much emphasis is being placed on the “product” rather than the "process"

April 05 2023

In her book, The Importance of Being Little, Erika Christakis explains there is too much emphasis placed on the “product” created during craft and not enough on the "process”.

In other words: we're focusing too much on things children can take home and stick on their bedroom wall.

This idea isn’t new exactly and it's gaining momentum. 

In the blog, The Artful Parent, Jean Van’t Hul discusses the difference between art and craft.

Referencing art educator and the author MaryAnn F. Kohl, Hul writes: “Craft follows distinct steps to a required or expected outcome. Fun, yes, but not art. Art has no planned outcome, though there may be some specialized materials and techniques to use. The results are not planned or expected. Art is free. Craft is static. Process, not product.”

While Christakis says the attention that “process” over “product” is starting to receive is a step in the right direction, there is still too much focus on following instructions.

Instead, she says the focus should be on teaching children skills with no mention of the result. For example, how to model clay.

“The purpose of this exercise is not to teach children how to make clay alligators and coffee mugs,” Christakis writes in her book. “The purpose is to teach children a predictable cognitive sequence they can apply when they encounter anything new: Observe, question, explore, reflect. Repeat.

“The children learn to respect their materials, not just to dive into them. They learn – without having seen it before – that clay is a material they can use to represent something else, a key developmental challenge of the early years.”