Teaching your kids photography is a great way to spend time and bond with them. Through activities like guided photo walks and photo challenges, your children get to learn extracurricular skills outside the walls of the classroom. Additionally, photography helps develop your child's voice and identity, as it gives them the chance to express themselves visually. There are also valuable life lessons to be learned through photography. Here are a few of them:
Practice makes perfect
People rarely do things perfectly on the first try. This is why it's important to teach kids the value of patience and perseverance from a young age. Fortunately, photography is a good avenue to do that. For one, having a digital camera means they can take and re-take as many photos as they want until they get the shot right. Encourage them to keep going, and to not give up. After all, they will have to go through a lot of mistakes and frustration before becoming an expert at something.
Caring for the equipment is important
Photographers take great pains to maintain their cameras, and this is something you can use to teach your child about ownership and responsibility. For starters, you can guide them on how to use camera equipment and accessories to keep their devices clean. Tools like the Nikon Lens Pen Cleaner ($8.95) are safe for children to use as it's non-toxic and won't scratch or damage a camera's lens. Similarly, the Giottos Rocket Air Blaster ($16.99) is easy enough for kids to handle, and even comes in a rocket shape that's sure to pique a child's interest. If you’re reluctant to let them touch your expensive DSLR, you can have them start out on something more affordable, like the Father's Factory wooden digital camera instead.
Learn how to focus
A huge part of photography is learning to pick out a good subject. Of course, this may be difficult for kids, especially those easily wonderstruck at the smallest thing, so make it a habit to review and evaluate their images with them. Talk to your kids about the importance of having an interesting main focus in their photos. While you’re at it, you can even teach them about the camera's autofocus, focal lock, and zoom modes to make things easier as they shoot.
Exploration unlocks creativity
Kids are free to explore their own styles without being constrained by grown-up rules and conventions. As such, letting your child explore and experiment through photography — like the different angles, positions, and perspectives they can shoot from — can help nurture their creativity. In fact, this extends even to pretend play. Though more research is required to be conclusive, studies have suggested that pretend play is linked to cognitive and social development in children. Thus, simply using pretend photography devices like wooden toy cameras can help foster such traits as creativity that kids can bring later into their lives.
Art and creativity is about having fun
At the end of the day, learning about photography should be fun and not a chore. As such, be careful about imposing too many rules and restrictions on your child, and simply let them explore the possibilities they can see through their camera lenses. What's more, it's important to remind them to hold onto that childlike wonder, especially as they grow older.
There are plenty of lessons to be learned from photography beyond ISO, aperture, or the rule of thirds. Start your kids early and help them reap the benefits of photography.