Many parents know the benefits of reading with children. Even as little ones are just learning to recognize letters and process sounds, their language skills are developing. The time parents spend with a book, reading stories as children follow along with the pictures and text, helps them become better readers.

Importantly, since reading is often a pleasant bonding time between parent and child, it results in a positive association with the activity. Any frustration children may otherwise have with learning to read is made easier because of the good memories of bonding with a parent. Children grow up to be more confident learners and more willing to explore the language arts.

In fact, many childhood activities, such as freehand drawing, stenciling, and molding with clay translate into academic confidence later in life. In the classroom, children are called upon to write letters and numbers, and draw pictures from a very early age. They are also expected to start learning how to complete projects, for which home-based crafts have prepared them.

Those kids who have spent their toddler years with pencil in hand have more experience creating shapes and translating what is in their imagination to the page. This makes their entry into school easier, as they already have some skills they need to feel comfortable and at ease with academic work.

. Using Numbers and Letters

Children learn math, reading and writing by drawing figures on the page. No one expects a young child to draw a straight line or a perfect curve. But with the at-home experience of learning how to write letters and numbers, this experience is less intimidating in the classroom.

Since children have had the chance to use pencils and paper at home, they won’t be starting from scratch and intuitively understand that improvement comes with practice. Patience is an essential skill at all ages, and drawing teaches children of what they are capable if they try more than once.

If children have used stencils to learn how to draw shapes, they know how different it feels to draw freehand. They also know they can draw smooth lines with a little assistance and are less likely to be frustrated if they see a shaky letter on the page.

. Exploring Complex Shapes

Drawing opens up a new world of defining shapes and colors. As children progress through the school system, they will be asked to place mathematical value on geometric patterns. If they have early exposure to basic geometric shapes, children will be better prepared to measure side lengths and calculate volumes.

. Improving Attention to Detail

Crafts help children explore their creativity, but they also depend on technique. In school, kids are asked to express their individuality but also to follow instructions. Drawing a picture means putting lines on the page that an observer will recognize.

Similarly, more advanced crafts, such as making paper dolls, must be done a certain way in order to not fall apart. With as much time as they want to explore crafts at home, children not only learn personal expression but also the practical way to execute their abstract ideas.

. Understanding Art as History

While skill development is one reason to give children early exposure to creative activities, a general understanding of the importance of art offers a unique outlook on human history. Children may be much older before they learn how paintings, sculpture and architecture have shaped the development of many civilizations.

For parents, it only takes a little bit of time and some basic tools such as stencils, pencils, paper and crayons to make a big impact on a child’s academic development. With early access to the skills they will need later on, children will enter school with more confidence and a greater comfort level with daily tasks.