Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Charlotte Mason: Useful Crafts

Charlotte Mason advised homeschooling parents to teach children how to do useful crafts rather than the cut and paste paper crafts that children are most often given to do. First of all, you will be very surprised by what a child can do. I bought Tarja, who will be four years old in about three weeks, a small knitting spool. In order to knit on this round knitting spool, she must take a hook and lift off loops from pegs over and over again. She's not coordinated enough to string the yarn around the spool, so we work as a team. I string, and she knits. Since she is working with a short attention span, she might only knit one row at a time, but it's ok. There is no hurry, and she feels like she really accomplished something. I have this setup out in the open for her to use any time she feels the urge. If it were put away, she would forget about the whole thing.

A fellow homeschooler and dear friend gave Melody a sewing machine for her sweet 16 birthday. As I write this post, she is repurposing old t-shirts into baby hats, and an old pair of jeans into a new purse for herself.

Abbey got a wood burning set for Christmas, and Melody taught her how to use it. Today, she practiced her skills on projects that came in the kit, and then she plans to try her hand at some leather bracelets, that she might be able to sell in the future. After that, I had her look up zentangles, and then gave she and Tarja 3x5 cards so that they could try this art technique. We belong to a local art association, and I found out about zentangles during a program that was given by a local artist.

Useful crafts, in my opinion, are crafts that enhance one's life in some way. A good example of this is that my grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was in about the fourth grade, and today, I can not only provide my own family with warm clothing, blankets, and home decor, but I can also earn money by making these things for others rather than having to sacrifice valuable time away from my family by getting a "real" job. A little time spent by my grandmother trying to entertain me on an afternoon when I was home sick from school, has actually been a great addition to the quality of life for my family.

Therefore, to enhance the home education of your children, teach them to make things, cook, bake, decorate, repurpose, recycle, draw, paint, plant, and anything else that you can think of that will stimulate their minds, and give them something to love, something to do, and something to think about.

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