So, your child is interested in building and constructing with wood, otherwise known as woodwork or carpentry. You want to encourage and support your child but aren’t sure where or how to start.
Part 1 of this series, Kids Woodworking – Get Ready to Encourage Young Carpenter (Part 1), would be a nice place to start if you haven’t already read it. 😉
In part 1, we shared some things you need to know about and do before you start on projects, including safety measures, tools, creating a workspace, and where to get free or low-cost supplies. If you’ve already completed your tasks in part 1, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of having fun and supporting your carpenter’s apprentice or woodworker.
The best way to support your young carpenters or woodworkers is to get in there with them and show them how it’s done. Watching and helping you work will inspire your children and make them feel important, among other things. If you don’t know much about woodworking, start with small, easy projects such as a keepsake box with hinges. There are many easy and advanced projects you can do together. I recommend getting a paperback book with pictures and instructions. It will help you both in the long run. Here are a few Budding Carpenter’s Woodworking Projects you may want to try with children.
If you just don’t feel qualified, you may want to consider asking a grandparent or family friend to teach you both about woodworking. If you choose this option, talk with your child about the circumstances. It’s important for your child to understand that you don’t know everything and you are eager for the two of you to learn together.
No matter how much experience you have or your child’s current age or stage, reading related books together is a great way to encourage and support your child. Here is a list of children’s books about tools for kids of all ages and stages. Grab a few that are age-appropriate and interesting to your budding carpenter.
Beginner Ages & Stages
Toddlers (2-3 years old): One of the first questions you may have is, “when should I begin?” The short answer is as soon as your toddler (2-3 years old) starts beating and banging on things. As a parent, you probably don’t want kids to go around hitting everything in the house. The solution to this potential problem is to provide an area where it’s ok to practice this pounding “skill.” Consider getting a toy workbench or table, preferably a sturdy plastic one. Depending on what is available, you may want to additionally purchase toy tools in a box or bag to make sure there is a wide variety. There are advantages to having a workbench and a tool bag that can be taken on trips, just like you take some tools with you in the trunk of the car.
Once your child is beyond the “always taste everything” stage, you may want to start introducing more complex toy tools that have moving parts and maybe even sounds (if you think you can stand it.) Depending on your child and the toy, you may begin this phase during latter part of the toddler stage.
Young Children (4-7 years old): Young children are better able to work with real tools than toddlers. Their life experiences (knowledge), physical abilities, maturity level, and growing imaginations make this a good time to begin more advanced topics. To support your child at this stage, introduce and practice working with child-size versions of real tools. Children at this stage benefit from both toy and real tools. Encourage and participate in playtime with the toy tools. As you and your apprentice begin working on easy projects with real tools, you will likely see your child practicing on his or her own during playtime.
Note: With toddlers and young children, much of the emphasis is on getting to know the tools and terms of the trade. Beginning with toy tools helps to do this safely and paves the way for the next stages, which build on the foundations laid here.
Tweens (8-12 years old): At this stage, you will concentrate totally on real tools, skills, techniques, and more advanced projects. Depending on your child, you may want to introduce or increase work with hand saws and new cutting, detailing or finishing hand tools. Older tweens may also be ready to start and complete easy projects on their own. The key to this is to read through instructions and plans together and make sure you are close by in case there are questions.
If you haven’t already completed a project where wood sealer, paint, or varnish was applied, it would be a good time to introduce this skill, making sure that you emphasize safety measures as well as techniques, and tips.
Woodworking Classes & Experts
Maybe your best efforts have failed, or you have taken your child as far as you can in woodworking. Look for a local, age-appropriate class that your child can join. Your local hobby store or home improvement center would be good places to start. Some offer classes for parents and children.
You may also want to contact a local “shop teacher.” She or he is sure to have many ideas that will stimulate a love of learning in this area. Another option would be to contact a hobbyist who works with wood, making items your child likes. With the creativity, skill, and experience of a professional, your child’s interest and experience could grow by leaps and bounds. Who knows? Later, your child’s interest could even become his or her chosen occupation.
When you both have a little experience under your belts, allow your child to invite a few friends over to complete a short, easy, project. Make sure you provide safety equipment for everyone. With a group of friends, your child could make plans to build some amazing creations. Each child may want to choose his or her own project, or perhaps they will get together as a team and make something a little more complex. Either way, they are sure to be left with some great memories.
Woodworking can be a lot of fun for children with an interest in it. If your child has expressed that interest, follow their lead and teach them everything you know. In no time, you and your young woodworker will be enjoying quality time together as you work on projects and skills.
If you need more detailed info concerning how to verbally support your child, please see Raising Confident Kids Through Proper Praising Techniques.
We believe that all children should be taught the skills they need to survive and succeed. As parents, we can not tell what difficulties our children may encounter so it’s important to avoid labeling tasks and interests as “girlie” or “boyish.” It’s time to teach the skills…not the “roles.”
Tools – Having a variety of basic hand tools available is a must but having the tools and a bag to carry them in is the ideal option!
Workbench & Tool Organizer – A place for everything & everything in its place. Help kids stay safe and organized by giving them a work area that supports and encourages practicing old and new skills.
Kids Safety Equipment – Kids (and some adults) tend to be a little clumsy or unsteady at times, protect everyone with quality safety equipment. It’s better to think about it and get it now instead of remembering it on a trip to the hospital.