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Preschooler Being Forced to Do Arts and Crafts

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My 3-year-old attends preschool. His teacher keeps pushing him to do arts and crafts activities. He isn't interested in those activities while in school because he has so many new friends and toys to play with. My son doesn't even want to go to school anymore. I think he would go to the art tables on his own if he were just left alone. Should preschool children be forced to do certain activities?

A: Your little boy should not be forced to do any particular activity at preschool. A healthy preschool offers a safe, stimulating child-centered environment. Preschool staff should take their cues from the kids regarding their interests and curiosities. Their task is then to encourage those natural interests. They should not compel any child to perform activities that the child is not interested in. Your son would rather play with toys and socialize with other kids than sit down at a table and do teacher-selected arts and crafts projects; that's a perfectly understandable choice for a 3-year-old to make. If your son wants to do anything related to arts and crafts, he will initiate those pursuits just as he initiates playing with toys and socializing with his peers.

If this preschool's director and head teacher do not understand your concerns or complaints, change preschools. Any preschool director or head teacher who would encourage this behavior on the part of her staff does not understand early childhood development and has no business operating a preschool. I am sorry if this means that your son has to leave the preschool friends that he has made, but continuing to force him to go there under these conditions is not healthy -- his own reluctance to attend preschool proves it.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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