By Christina VanGinkel
I have been crocheting since I was about twelve years old, a late bloomer in the field by many standards. Teaching a child a handcraft is a great way to build their self-confidence and it provides them with an outlet for their creativity. Crochet is a handcraft that lets them make things that are useful over the long range. Blankets, scarves, mittens, toys, and many more items can be constructed with the very basic of crochet stitches, with more intricate stitches available for those wanting to create more with the craft. In comparison to knitting, which also can produce some very stunning creations, I personally feel crochet is easier to both teach and learn for kids because of the fact that it uses one hook, instead of two needles, so the maneuvering is easier to master. Important both during the learning process and after, is, that when a mistake is made, unless you are using a yarn that is extremely fine and fuzzy, it is usually very simple to tear out, back to where the error was made. It can be difficult with knitting to remove the stitches back to the spot you need to fix. Frustration can quickly set in, and then nothing is learned. This is not to say that knitting cannot be learned by kids, but that for me personally, I have found crochet to be easier to teach of the two, and that even very young children can learn to make a simple crochet chain, where kids slightly older would be more adept at picking up the craft of knitting.
Other crafts may be even easier yet to teach a child, but kids often will sit still long enough to be taught a craft when it is too cold outside to go out, or in the evening when schoolwork is done. Crochet can be taught in short spurts of time, with little room needed to work, and the very basic of materials. It is one of the simplest and least expensive crafts to get a child interested in doing. A skein of yarn and a hook is all you need to start them on their way. If you feel that, you will not be able to convey the basic chain and single crochet stitches either purchase an illustrated book or look online for some good illustrations highlighting these first basic steps. A combination of you sitting next to them, allowing them to see how you hold the yarn and hook, combined with the close up illustrations of a book or printed off the Internet, will provide them with both a visual and hands on feel for picking up the steps.
Keep in mind when teaching kids, that just as different people hold a pencil or pen differently, so are crochet hooks held more than one way. Of course, you want to convey to them how the average person holds the hook, and how the chain and single crochet are constructed, but if they find that holding the hook slightly differently produces the same steps needed to accomplish the chain and single crochet, move on to teaching them about tension, and leave them be.
If you are teaching a child, that is opposite handed of what you are, go into the teaching lesson reminding yourself that what works for some may not work for others. Trail and error may take longer, but if you keep at it, accomplishment will follow. I have found that it often depends on the children themselves, as to what works best for them to see what you are doing. Have them sit across from you, in effect offering them a mirror image of what you are trying to teach them. If that does not work, have them sit by your side as you would with a child that was not opposite handed of yourself.
If a child is having a difficult time learning the basics, try a heavier yarn, or a larger hook, in turn making the image of what they are doing with the yarn easier for them to see. Encourage them, and even if they end up with a tangled mess, be ready to offer praise and ask them when they would like to have their next lesson. Start the next lesson by refreshing what they learned the first time out, and before you know it, they will be asking you how to do a picot and treble, and if you think Fun Fur will make a good wardrobe accent!