Josie’s First Hand-Sewing Kit

August 15, 2012

in Family & Friends, Parenting

Her sewing kit.

I put together this hand-sewing kit for my girl as a Christmas gift last year, when it became clear that she wanted to exercise this type of fine motor skills. I also figured it would fill the need for some quiet, focused time that would benefit us both.

Here’s what I decided to include in the set – a pin cushion, spools of colored thread, a couple of needles, a thimble, a handful of decorative buttons, and a package of small quilting squares for her to practice with. I also later got her this set of alphabet beads on the right along with some sparkly elastic cords, as I figured she’d enjoy the combination of spelling and threading. I also got her a crochet hook and some yarn, but she hasn’t gotten into that yet, although they did some finger crocheting in the Waldorf kindergarden and will be doing some knitting in first grade.

Here’s why we think handwork is important:

Besides their obvious practical use, manual skills benefit the brain, as well as foster the ability to transfer the objects and solutions imagined onto the physical plane. It is of utmost importance that our kids’ education is not limited to – and by – purely abstract learning.

Although I myself grew up in the Soviet Union and obviously had no access to any kind of alternative education, I was taught basic sewing and crocheting at Josie’s age, and, by grade three, made my own hair-pieces to wear to school. Later, when I hit my teens and became conscious of style, I fashioned my own funky jewelry out of beads, leather, and even twine utilizing some of these same crocheting and sewing skills.

While I no longer make cute things to wear, the DIY confidence I gained in the process ultimately led to the ease with which I later taught myself all the things I now share on this website, starting with the language in which it is written. If my kids someday walk through life with similar self-assurance, I will have done my job well.

Also, it’s important to know how to fix holes in your socks and clothing. I do all the time!

While Josie, who’s six, hasn’t spent much time with her sewing kit at first, she began to use it more and more as the year progressed. She has since learned a couple of kinds of basic stitches and how to sew buttons.

So Josie sewed this little baggie. Just starting to learn basic stitches.

This is the baggie she made out of a quilting square.

Fixing the pin cushion, using a thimble.

Here she re-attached the pin-cushion decoration element that had come unglued by sewing it back on. OK, this is not really elegant work, but it’s a start.

Letter beads are a fun spelling exercise. In Waldorf education we don't push reading until third grade, so when all kids in the class are ready, they become really enthusiastic readers cause it's not being pushed on them,and that's just how I like it.

These alphabet beads are a big hit with her, too.

Of course, there’s an obvious question of safety when using sharp needles at a young age. Like with knives, it is important to make sure that kids learn safety techniques and understand potential dangers – don’t let them lose those needles!

There’s also the question of readiness, as different kids will be ready at different times.

Still, I find it important that we let them do these things at some point or another – important for their self-confidence, important for their intellect, and, ultimately, for their lives as self-sufficient adults.

How about your kids? What are some of the handwork projects they enjoy?

{ 3 comments }

1 GGMcMurray August 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Love this idea, I have been thinking about doing something similar for my granddaughter. People said shes too young at 7 but she so wants to do what adults do. Thanks for inspiration.

2 Sofya August 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I always try to harness this natural desire to imitate our work at this age to get them started on various skills.

3 Marge December 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I really enjoy your posts. I am a special education teacher in Canada and often feel like our (our societies) children so often are prohibited from learning and contributing to our society because they are too young. I have no children of my own as I married late but would it was my desire at one point. Your post gives me hope for our collective future.

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