The 5 Golden Don’ts of teaching children to sew: What every mum should know.
I recently published my 7 Golden rules for teaching kids to sew and thought a post about what not to do when teaching children to sew might also be helpful. This post is really directed towards mums and is based on my observations of many family sewing workshops that I’ve run. In the most general way, you can think of all the rules below as a reminder to trust your kids and allow them to be the creators of their projects.
If you’re looking for a fun project to sew with your kids have a look at Moxy from the Ugly Dolls movie and her lovely message: You don’t have to be perfect to be amazing!
So here are the Five Golden Don’ts of teaching children to sew…
1. Don’t insist on perfection
Teaching kids to sew should be fun. Full stop. Sewing together should be a really great time to sit together and chat. There is lots of time to get stitches right later. Besides, perfection is really overrated and who is to say what is perfect. Kids are inherently creative. So let them create.
Let you kids make large, over-sized, messy, crooked, wonky stitches that wander happily all over the place. If you want to help them to make their stitches smaller and more even, you might gently remind them that they have to look at their work when they’re sewing or you can draw a sewing line onto their fabric as a guide. But remember, learning to sew isn’t about making a so-called perfect project without any blemishes. Its about kids having a positive confidence-building creative learning experience. I promise within a short period of time your kids will get the hang of stitching anyway.
2. Don’t do the sewing for your kids.
Don’t take over your kids work and start sewing it for them. Kids don’t like it. They need to do their own work, make their own mistakes and feel proud of what they themselves can accomplish. If you want to build your kids into confident well adjusted and creative individuals then you have to show them you trust their ability. By doing your kids work you are saying to them that you don’t think they can do it by themselves . And in the end, they won’t bother trying.
I remember very clearly going to a painting workshop when I was 14. We were painting a still life. At the end of the class the teacher came, told me, “yes that’s very good, it just needs a few highlights” and with that he took the brush and started painting highlights all over my work and saying, “here and here and here”. He made the painting look so much better but he also made me feel horrible. I was crushed and felt I couldn’t paint. And I never went back to a painting class.
3. Don’t continually suggest how they should be making their project
Again, remember this is your kid’s project. Often in workshops mums take over and start telling their kids what colours they should or shouldn’t be using or how they should or shouldn’t go about adding decorative features to their project. As adults we have learnt to feel that certain colours go together and others don’t but I found kids will put the most unusual colours together and they just look amazing.
Mums, you should know that your kids creative choices are the best ones for the simple reason that they are their choices and not somebody else’s. Sometimes I have kids who are so used to thinking adults know everything better that they are reluctant to make their own creative decisions. They want an adult’s guidance or validation. I always try to get these kids to decide by themselves. And once they realise that they can do whatever they want with their project they quickly become confident.
4. Don’t tell your child they’re too young to sew
This is my favourite “don’t” because its exactly what I did.
Years ago when my youngest daughter, Yiscah, was 3 years old she loved to watch the “big girls” in my workshops sewing their projects. She would keep asking if she could sew too. I told her that that she certainly could but she had to get a bit bigger first. Well, that piece of motherly wisdom just didn’t past muster. She was insistent that she could sew if I just let her try. Eventually, I gave in and to my surprise she had no trouble sewing at all. I realised then and there that kids as young as three can sew. And more importantly, I saw that if young kids really want to do something then they will often perform well beyond your expectations. In short, never doubt your kids ability to surprise you. Needless to say, I didn’t tell Yiscah she was too young to try something ever again.
5. Don’t teach your child if you think the previous points are beyond you
Sometimes its actually better to send your kids to classes to learn sewing 0r anything else for that matter. If you clearly realise that it’s not a good idea for you to teach your kids, for whatever reasons, then don’t teach them. There’s still a lot you can do to help them learn to sew: you can find a sewing workshop that provides a supportive relaxed environment, you can make sure they are enjoying themselves after a few lessons and take an interest in their work, comment on it, ask why they did this or that, give their project a special place in your home and so on. ‘A mother’s work is never done’ is true, but that doesn’t mean we have to do everything ourselves without any help. There will be plenty of other things you can teach your kids or do together with them.
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