I am a photographer, so its safe to say I like taking pictures. I also think photography is important for children; right up there with reading, writing, and arithmetic. Why?
1. Mistake Realization & Correction
When I was in high school, I swam. I improved my starts of the starting block by having my mother video and burst shoot my starts. I could break it down and see exactly what needed improvement.
When I played tennis, my mother did the same thing so I could visually see my serving follow through step by step.
What feeling of achievement can kids have if they look back at their own projects and activities of photos they’ve taken and learn to see their own mistakes to correct?
2. Develops Hand/Eye Coordination
Many children would rather choose a real activity than the pretend version of it. While my 14 month old doesn’t really conceptually grasp the difference yet, the 2 and 4 year olds that I nanny really understand the difference between pretending to stir a cake mix, and me letting her stir the cake mix!
Most of the time, I allow Anna, my four-year-old, to photograph with my phone instead of with my $1,000 DSLR. However, she would much rather try to take a great picture and line up what she wants to see with what she really sees than putting blocks in a row or fishing a magnetic puzzle. When we take nature walks, for example, my camera can keep her entertained for hours if I let it!
There are also tons of apps on your smart phones that will let kids take a different assortment of images, collage them an abundance of ways, and offering more editing styles than one can count!
3. Inspires Exploration & Imagination
Kids are constantly looking for something “new” to do. With a camera, this is endless! Camera fun encourages family time, and interactive learning in a new way way: one that doesn’t involve flashcards, worksheets, counting, or letters in a traditional sense. Instead, the photography projects that can be done together are endless!
– Alphabet books: have your child find something that is shaped like each letter
– Have your child find numbers in real life; how many ducks are on the pond, how many horses are in the field
– Allow for “day in the life of” projects; does your child carry around a favorite animal? Have her take a photograph of the animal at each new activity.
– Photo scavenger hunts
– Photograph the color of the week
– Take field trips; photograph the fish and come home to research them, photograph parts of the animals to come home and remember their names, photograph the clouds and learn all the types.
4. Self-Recognizing Success
As a mom, sometimes it is hard to find out what is really important to kids. My two-year-old that I nanny puts his entire heart and soul into each activity he does, weather it is rolling cars on the table, or coloring a sunshine page for his mother. But, once the activity is over, he ‘forgets’ it ever happened, and puts his heart into the next new thing. It doesn’t matter how greatly he loved his first project. Since I’ve been pulling my camera out, he asks me to photograph things he does. When my four-year-old asks him questions later, he’ll ask me to show him on my camera. It made me realize, he hasn’t forgotten! He just isn’t sure how to verbalize what he remembers! He is head-over-heels in love with the project again when he sees the picture of it!
My four year old is soooo passionate in her imagination. It runs wild; she can play with a blob of dust for HOURS if I’d let her! When she revisits that memory in a picture, she remembers how she played, and imagines a new way she could have played. Its like a whole new activity for her again. She beams with pride and joy!
5. Visually see long term improvement
Throughout my work with kids both in nanny life and daycare life, I’ve noticed that children are easily frustrated. When my one year old doesn’t tip her cup up high enough to get any liquid out, she yells. When my two year old can’t button his pants, he yells. When my four year old can’t close a container, she yells. All this frustration, everywhere, and I sometimes catch myself thinking, “come on! what a hard life you have.” I have to remember, their life is just as hard as mine! Just because I know something they do not, doesn’t mean I know everything. I’m learning new things all the time, and it frustrates me too. Luckily, I am past not knowing how to do basic life skills for the most part (I’ve never changed a tire 😉 ).
Weather digitally or on print, with the assistance of parents, .can create a documentation of their images. They won’t see the technicalities of “better pictures” (like less blur, better light, stronger composition), but they will have a visual representation of all the things they can do, which is sometimes important for even adults!