Parents spend too little time with kids on arts and crafts: Survey

The Krafty Kids team – (from left) students Jovin Sia, Sheryl Tan, Louise Ng and Bridget Hsu – held workshops for parents and children to build kangaroo dioramas together.
The Krafty Kids team – (from left) students Jovin Sia, Sheryl Tan, Louise Ng and Bridget Hsu – held workshops for parents and children to build kangaroo dioramas together. PHOTO: MARCUS CHOW
The Krafty Kids team – students Jovin Sia, Sheryl Tan, Louise Ng and Bridget Hsu – held workshops for parents and children to build kangaroo dioramas (above) together.
The Krafty Kids team – students Jovin Sia, Sheryl Tan, Louise Ng and Bridget Hsu – held workshops for parents and children to build kangaroo dioramas (above) together. PHOTO: MARCUS CHOW

Most parents in Singapore do not engage in arts and crafts activities with their children on a regular basis, a survey by a group of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students has found.

Only 9.4 per cent of 116 parents of children aged four to seven polled engage in arts and crafts activities with their children more than once a week.

Nearly four in 10 either do not carry out such activities with their children, or do so just once a month.

NTU student Bridget Hsu, 22, who spoke on behalf of her team, said this is because parents have many misconceptions about such activities.

"They think that for their children to do arts and crafts, they need to spend money to send them to an arts and crafts studio."

The lack of time is also a reason. "After coming home late from work, parents will forgo doing any arts and crafts activities with their children because they feel doing so takes a lot of time and energy."

But research has found that instilling creativity in young children is important in preparing them for later life.

For instance, the International Child Art Foundation, which is based in the United States, has said the creative thinking skills developed in children when they are exposed to arts and crafts help them to be original and innovative - key attributes for individual success and social prosperity.

Dr Nirmala Karuppiah, head of education at the National Institute of Education Centre for Research in Child Development, said: "Arts and crafts is very important and is a good activity for parents to do with their children.

"The best way for young children to grow is through play and interacting with real objects because they feel more engaged when they are exposed to multi-sensory hands-on activities," she told the NTU team during their research.

The team hopes to raise awareness about the importance of children's arts and crafts through the survey and a campaign called Krafty Kids.

The NTU team - which includes students Jovin Sia, 23; and Sheryl Tan and Louise Ng, both 22 - conducted six free workshops last weekend to help parents facilitate arts and crafts activities for their children.

Said Ms Hsu: "Doing arts and crafts is actually a time for parents and children to be creative together. It doesn't need to be a long, arduous process. It can just be something short."

Her team also hoped to show parents that arts and crafts did not need to be an expensive activity.

During each 45-minute session, parents worked with their children to create a kangaroo diorama out of recycled materials, such as used shoe boxes.

Stay-at-home mother Sarah Lam, 35, took her daughter and son - who are 4½ and two years old, respectively - to the workshop.

She said she loved the workshop as her children had enjoyed it very much. "I will attempt to restart regular and purposeful crafting for both my kids," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2020, with the headline 'Parents spend too little time with kids on arts and crafts: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe