It's a crafty world out there, mamas, and it's hard to avoid the constant barrage of perfect crafts that cover parenting magazines and your Facebook feed. But with all of this focus on Pinterest-worthy crafting, two essential components are missing: creativity and imagination. This summer, stay away from perfection and help your little ones grow by using their imaginations.
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There is a time for creating very specific art projects in an effort to learn technique and style, and there is a time to sit back and create. Whether your child is one of the lucky ones who has an art program at her school, has a classroom teacher who relies heavily on mixing creativity with education or attends an art class outside of the school environment, chances are she has come home with some amazing projects at different ages and stages. From preschool picture frames decorated with endless sparkles to the details added by kindergarten students to the abstract art that emerges later in elementary school, kids have the potential to thrive on creativity. Within educational programs, art projects tend to be very specific. This is a good thing. This is how kids learn about the various tools and techniques artists use. But outside of the classroom? That's a different story.

The internet is a magical place in the eyes of a child. With just a few clicks, you can find the answers to all of your burning questions, watch videos of cute animals doing adorable things and even play a game or two (educational in nature, obviously). The downside, of course, is that creativity fades once you step into that vortex.

Moms across the globe take to social media with their feelings about the rise of Pinterest and crafting perfection. Some feel inspired to craft more or better. Others feel defeated, as if their paper plate turkeys no longer suffice in this world full of super crafters. Crafting with kids seems to be more of a competitive sport than a hobby these days, and creativity is on the losing end.

Finished thoughts

It's one thing to find a few ideas once in a while for creating specific projects, as this helps kids learn to follow directions, work on time management and complete a project start to finish. There's a lot to be said for that. When every project is found on the internet, however, it leaves little room for kids to think and create using their imaginations.

While some argue that photos on Pinterest are simply a source of inspiration (or “Pinspiration, if you will), it's important to note that photos on Pinterest are completed projects. Photos on Pinterest represent finished thoughts. If you want to inspire your child to draw a seascape, for example, showing your child a photo of a completed seascape will “inspire” your child to copy it as best she can. Taking her to the beach or looking through books about the ocean at your local public library, on the other hand, will inspire your child to tap into her imagination and create something new.

Trends aren't unique

The internet is full of trends. Go ahead and search your favorite social media site for a topic of interest and you will be bombarded with trends. Pinterest is no different. You can find beautifully edited photos of just about any project you have in mind complete with step-by-step tutorials to get you to the finish line. Great for birthday parties, not so great for growing minds.

Trends have always been around (I still miss those black rubber bracelets) and are part of life, but trends aren't unique. Kids need to create from their hearts, not from photos of crafting perfection found on the internet. Yes, you can probably find some amazing Frozen crafting projects out there for your little movie lover, but imagine what you'll find if you give your child a box of art supplies and some free time instead?

Kids are full of unique and interesting ideas, and they should be encouraged to utilize them. Sure, sometimes the strawberry-cucumber lemon herb “soup” turns out to be a failure for the taste buds, but not in your child's eyes. When children are encouraged to create, they learn to think outside the box. They problem solve. They keep trying until they succeed. Wouldn't you rather raise children who aren't afraid to fail along the road to success than those who only ever succeed by following step-by-step instructions?

Individuality matters

Kids go through phases and try on new personalities and likes and dislikes based upon their peer groups. That's a very normal part of child development. In an attempt to figure out where they fit in and what truly appeals to them, children mimic their peers at times. But individuality still matters.

Children should be encouraged to follow their hearts and try things independently to find out what inspires them. Robotic crafting in the name of perfection does little to inspire individuality. In fact, it stunts it.

Some kids create with crayons, markers or paint. Others rely on collage. And some find that they can really tap into their creativity when building with Legos (yes, even the pink ones). One of the best parts of being a kid is having the ability to see an idea through, start to finish, using only your imagination and the tools you have before you. I've seen kids create construction paper mosaics that make you want to sob and Lego creations that stop you in your tracks. When we remove organic creativity from the lives of our children, we stunt their growth.

Use the summer months as an opportunity to let creativity run wild and watch your child thrive as a result.

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