Keeping kids entertained during the school holidays can be a challenge, but there are many inexpensive ways to occupy them on days when the weather prevents outdoor activities. Engaging them in a craft such as the fiber arts is a fantastic way for them to develop their motor skills and will equip them with a talent that will almost certainly come in handy during their later life.
Children Can Crochet and Knit: Modern Tools for Teaching Fiber Arts to Kids
Put More Emphasis on Enjoyment Rather Than Perfection
It is a good idea when working with kids to forget about the rules. Teach them the basic technique, and let them work in whatever way feels most comfortable to them. Mistakes are part of the learning process, and being overly critical may make them unwilling to continue with the lesson.
Prepare Your Workspace
Clear a space and set up some tables and chairs for your kids to work at, or lay out some comfortable pillows on the floor. Sit alongside each child to teach them the technique, and sitting opposite children who are left-handed allows them to follow your movements much more clearly.
Use large needles and yarn in a solid colour for the first lessons. Start by teaching them how to make a simple chain, and then use these to make shoelaces, necklaces or stick them onto paper to create a collage.
Explain Everything Slowly and Clearly
Try to remember back to when you first started and just the simple act of holding the needle proved to be a challenge. Teaching requires unlimited patience, and you may have to repeat yourself and perform the same demonstrations hundreds of times until they finally grasp what you are trying to show them. However, the reward of seeing a child feel proud about something they have created makes every second worthwhile.
Show Them How to Rip Back and Start Again
One of the best things about the fibre arts is the ease with which you can correct your mistakes, so teach kids how to rip back and begin again if they slip up. You may have to be on hand to let them know when to stop if they get carried away with pulling the yarn.
Give Them Artistic License
Never ask the entire class to make the same project as this will create competition and stifle their natural creativity. Let them choose the colour of yarn they would like to work with and ask them to decide how many stitches they want for their piece.
Prepare Some Reference Materials
There are some excellent reference materials on YouTube, and you could even download a tutorial using a service such as YTD and burn it onto a CD for each child to take home and practice with. Diagrams, photos and simple patterns make great learning aids, so get creative when preparing your hand-outs. Just remember to respect IP when using video downloads.
As videogames and electronic devices become ever more popular, less children are taking the time to learn arts and crafts. Not only are fibre arts far more rewarding than time spent looking at electronic screens, they will help children improve their coordination and dexterity and teach them the satisfaction of creating something from raw materials with your very own hands.
Steven Young has taught the fiber arts for several years now. When he has time, he likes to share his know-how by posting about the fiber arts on the internet.