beading craft

The Benefits of Beading with Your Child

If you are a crafter and a parent who loves beading, why not try encouraging your child to bead with you? Threading beads have numerous physical and psychological benefits for children and is an excellent way for you to engage with your child and create a wonderful connection.

Beading has long been used as part of progressive school curricula, such as Montessori and Waldorf philosophies, to prepare children for complex math work and developing coordination and social skills. But, even young toddlers can benefit from beading activities to prepare them for school.

Here are some of the most important benefits of beading with your child.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are essential for cognitive development, as well as for performing everyday “life skills,” such as writing and dressing. These skills involve the use of the small muscles in the hand, fingers, and thumb.

Grasping

A crucial fine motor milestone for children is developing the grasping reflex. Infants and young toddlers tend to grab objects using a “raking” movement.  However, to be able to hold and manipulate objects effectively, kids need to learn to grab objects with a “pincer” grasp. Activities, such as those where kids use tweezers to sort beads, can help to develop this grasping technique.

Another grasping milestone is the “radial-digital” grasp, which is required for holding a pencil to write. Beading engages and strengthens the small muscles of the hand and fingers. Activities incorporating selecting and manipulating large beads help kids to practice the “pencil hold” grasp.

In-hand Manipulation

In-hand manipulation is the ability to turn and handle objects without the assistance of a surface. Beading activities, especially threading, require kids to grasp, translate, rotate, and shift. These movements strengthen the small muscles in the hand and help with coordination.

Bilateral Coordination

Bilateral coordination involves getting both halves of your body to work together to complete a task. The tactile and visual components of beading encourage hand-eye coordination. Try using large wooden beads for younger kids, and progress to different shapes and colors for older children to continue to improve their coordination.

Visual Skills

Visual motor and planning skills are necessary for functional tasks that kids will encounter when they are at school, such as using scissors and pencils, organizing school work, and managing their clothes.

Visual Discrimination and Memory

During a beading activity, kids need to remember the next bead in a pattern or to find the appropriate sized bead for the design. To do this, they need to scan and discriminate between the shapes and colors of the bead to find the correct bead. Visual scanning develops the parts of the brain responsible for memory and perception, helping them with tasks such as finding lost items, locating items they need, and helping them to become more independent.

Visual Planning

Visual planning is related to spatial awareness and is a necessary skill for kids to be able to organize and self-regulate. These executive functions play a significant role once kids reach school age and have a lasting impact as they grow and mature.

To complete a beading project, kids need to think about how the final project will look, selecting beads and other materials to achieve their design. They also need to learn how to manipulate the beads to create a pattern or picture spatially. Perler bead activities are an excellent way for kids to learn how to plan designs visually.

beading children's activities

Cognitive Skills

The toddler and preschool years are a time of enormous cognitive development. One of the best ways for kids to learn is through play and engaging with others. Beading engages both their mind and body and allows you the opportunity to connect with your child as he or she learns.

Concentration

A significant increase in concentration is one of the most noticeable benefits of beading for kids. The mental focus required to plan, design and select beads, combined with the fine motor activity of threading or placing the beads, engages kids for prolonged periods of time.

As you continue to include beading activities as part of your child’s play, their attention span will increase. This is an important skill that translates well into school age when kids are required to sit for long periods, also helping them to sustain their attention on their school work.

Math Skills

While beading may not seem like an intuitive place to introduce math to kids, it can play an essential role in introducing simple mathematical concepts at an early age, preparing kids to tackle more complex math problems once they reach school.

Some of the concepts that are used when beading are color, shape, measurement, and pattern. Kids need to use these concepts to problem solve when beading, such as when determining the correct number of beads to create a necklace of a certain length, or selecting the exact shape and color of bead to complete a pattern.

Parents can facilitate math learning by trying some of these fun math activities using beads with their kids.

At preschool, most beading activities begin as group lessons, which you can easily recreate at home by inviting over a few of your kids’ friends. Beading together promotes sharing and cooperation and facilitates communication and problem-solving skills.

Beading family activities

Social Skills

At preschool, most beading activities begin as group lessons, which you can easily recreate at home by inviting over a few of your kids’ friends. Beading together promotes sharing and cooperation and facilitates communication and problem-solving skills.

Communication

When kids engage in beading activities, they are required to ask for tools by name, distinguish beads by shape and color, and help each other by giving directions. Reaching and passing small objects like beads and threading materials also help them to develop their spatial awareness.

Prosocial Behavior

Finally, kids experience a great sense of achievement once they complete a project. By completing a project together as a group, this sense of accomplishment extends beyond themselves to their classmates, helping to develop prosocial behavior.

Prosocial behavior, in addition to self-regulation and executive functioning, is an indicator of future success and satisfaction, both academically and personally. Fostering prosocial behavior through activities like beading is a fantastic way to get your child off to a good start.

Remember…

Beading is a tremendous way to engage with kids and help them develop socially, cognitively, and physically. However, any activities with beads should be closely monitored by an adult, as small beads pose a significant choking risk, especially for toddlers and preschoolers who benefit the most from these activities.

Try including your child in your bead craft, or just pull out a basket of beads and string and start threading. This could be a fun way to help your child develop what will have a lasting positive impact throughout his or her life.

Olivia Parker

Olivia Parker, Beading with your childOlivia Parker is a full-time, stay-at-home mother of 2 daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! She loves blogging, yoga, and spending time with her family. She is also a crafting extraordinaire and frequent contributor to The Bead Traders Blog.

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

1 thought on “The Benefits of Beading with Your Child”

  1. Olivia, this is awesome! I always thought beading was a fun activity, but never realized just how my my kiddos benefit from this. With Christmas just around the corner, this is the perfect time for this post. My girls love making gifts for family and friends. It’s neat to have a craft I can direct them to that will help them in so many other ways too.

    Thank you for putting together this fantastic guest post!

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