Thursday, June 30, 2011

When Can We Start, Mom?!?

When is it time to start teaching your kid to sew? A lot of folks ask me this question. I usually don't begin teaching actual hand sewing before five years of age although I do have some pre-sewing activities (stringing spools, lacing cards etc.) on hand for younger kids. 

The reason is that I teach several kids at once so I need them to be able to work somewhat independently from the start, and then move on to near total independence rather quickly. But there is another reason to wait.

Why wait until she's five?

Before the age of five, many kids need a lot of help learning concepts that require fine motor control, or concentration, or memory. 

Sewing uses all three! So, it is especially demanding.

Really young children will likely need to be re-taught basics every time you sew together because they aren't ready to do something so hard.

But, maybe you are a fountain of patience and won't mind repeating for the sheer joy of doing something special with your child. 

Keep in mind that each child develops at her own rate and there certainly are kids who are ready to sew at an age earlier than five. I recently helped a 4-year-old who caught on to sewing really quickly.

Ultimately, you know your child's abilities best and therefore are the best judge. Just remember that younger kids may need a lot of one-on-one, and they may need to be reminded how to do the steps every time you pull out the sewing basket.
If you decide that, yes, this is indeed a good time to start sewing, then great! I'll leave you with a tip to help things go smoothly. (You can learn other tips by going here.)

Today's Tip: Small hands. Big needles.

Large needles are much easier than regularly sized ones for small fingers to grasp. 

They have large eyes, which makes threading so much easier for little people.

In my sewing classes beginners use chenille or embroidery needles in sizes 18 to 22.  I offer them a selection and they choose for themselves which size they want to use.

Letting your child make her own choices takes longer because there is a trial and error period while she figures out what works best, but let her explore and come to her own conclusions. It's empowering! 

If you start sewing and then see that it's not time for your kid to learn yet, just relax and have fun together in other ways, maybe find some pre-sewing activities to do until she's ready to try again.

Happy stitching!


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