Saturday, August 05, 2006

Getting Your Kids Behind the Camera

I know what you’re thinking.

“You want me to give my child—the one who loses her shoes so often I’ve had to attach a GPS unit to them—my shiny, expensive digital camera? My kids can’t keep missing puzzle pieces in the box, and the dog would starve if I didn’t feed him.

Woman, have you lost your mind?”

Hear me out on this one. I understand how funny (and reckless) this idea might be at first, but I have to tell you that our daughter now takes pictures on a regular basis, and one photo was so good that I mistakenly gave my husband credit for it.

Not only does giving your kids an opportunity to take photographs build excitement and foster creativity, it also demonstrates that they are being trusted with something very special: your digital camera.

For those of you who’d like to explore this further, here are a few tips I’ve learned along this journey of turning over my favorite toy to someone who still can’t reach the sink without a stepstool:

· It is a Privilege to Be Earned: Using your digital camera is a BIG deal, and it requires certain behavior. It also means that the camera will be put away if the rules aren’t followed. By explaining how important the camera is to you, your child might be better inclined to heed the warning.

· Show Her What to Do: Our first rule is “make sure the loop is around your wrist.” If the camera slips out of a little one’s hands, at least it won’t hit the ground. This is a good tip for grown-ups, too. Also, show her how to point the camera and look at the LCD screen. Let her try shooting a couple of pictures to get the feel of it. Many kids are also quick at understanding how to push the button half-way to get the lens to focus on the subject.

· Start Slowly But Stand Back: For first lessons, let her take a set amount of photos and tell her the number in advance. You can then look at the pictures and discuss what she liked about each one. But let her take pictures of whatever she wants—no coaching.

· Give Her the Opportunity to Learn: We get many blurry photos, but we also get some beautiful shots, and her style is different than mine. Each child sees things her own way, and letting her use a digital camera can give you an inside look into her perspective. You might even find you can learn a thing or two!


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