Saturday, February 11, 2006

Share your Hobby with a Kid

By Christina VanGinkel

Sharing your hobby with kids, through either a demonstration or an actual class setting, is a great way to get a whole new generation of hobbyists actively interested in what you love. I was first introduced to this concept years ago, when a storeowner asked me if I would be interested in holding a small, hands-on class to teach a group of middles school aged children how to make a dream catcher. At the time, I was actively going to craft shows in the area, selling my Native American beadwork, and had consignment in several local stores, including hers. That was how she knew what I was currently making, and she just thought that kids would get a kick out of making them. She later told me that out of several artists that she asked to come in and do a demonstration or a class, I was the only one who responded positively. One other did say she would, but only if they were compensated for their time. I just thought it would be a fun way to spend an afternoon, and it was.

That first class was a success and followed up by many more. It also gave me the confidence to say yes when a local school asked me if I would come in on Author's day, not to read any of my work, but to teach a large group of kids how to make the same item that I held the first class in at the store, making a dream catcher. Without the experience of teaching the small, organized classes, I would never have had the self-assurance to try the same project with so many at once. It was a blast. The kids all had a good time, and I had fun seeing so many of them accomplish making theirs from start to finish. Some kids did struggle, and did not finish theirs in class. Over the next several weeks, every time I would stop by in the afternoon to pick up one of my kids from school, a child would invariably run up to me though, with a question about what they were still working on, or to show me that they had figured out the simple weave, and then to show me that they had finished. Out of about thirty kids, I am sure every single one completed theirs.

There is just something about taking what you know, and sharing it with the younger generation, whether in a small setting or much larger one. I have since held many more classes through the years, mostly volunteer, some with only one or two kids as the class, sometimes with larger groups. They all give back to me the same thing, the satisfaction of knowing that I have been able to share my love of a craft with them. I hope that by providing them not only with the knowledge of how to create something with their hands, whether it is a bead project, the basics of crochet, or how to take a photograph, but also with a bit of the love I have for the craft itself, that they will in turn, someday share that same love and knowledge with someone else.

If you have a hobby that you enjoy doing, and want to ensure that, it goes on for many more generations to come, take the time to teach the basics of it to a child. Not everyone is cut out for teaching a class, small or large, but even sharing your craft one on one with your own child, or a niece or nephew, means that there is at least one person who can carry on the craft.

As I write this, I keep remembering the first person who taught me how to crochet. Many of my crafts are what I would refer to as self taught, learned through buying a kit, or reading a book. However, without my sister-in-law first putting a crochet hook into my hand when I was about ten, and having the patience to walk me through making a chain, and then taking that yarn chain and working a row of single crochet back into it, I do not know that I would have ever found the wanting to create other things. From her taking the time to teach a child the basics of a craft, she not only instilled in me a love of crochet, but of crafts themselves. Take the time today and share a hobby you enjoy with a child, be it crochet, beadwork, cross-stitch, how to operate a ham radio, or to strap on a pair of snowshoes and trek through the snow. Share a hobby with a child and know that one more generation will exist to carry it on to someday, teach another generation.

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