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How to teach kids how to use tools?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Nicole Alderman wrote:We were watching the stonemasonry video in this thread (https://permies.com/t/86990/art/Mastercrafts), and my four year old was really into it. He also has a lot of destructive energy, and I know I loved smashing rocks with hammers as a child, and I thought it might be even more fun to give him a small chisel and mallet (and goggles, of course!). Is this a good or bad idea? Are there child sized mallets and chisels for working in stone? I found some for working in wood.


This is interesting.  A while ago I wanted to help some friends with young kids (in the 7 to 11 year old range) find online information about introducing kids to tools, and getting started making things (wood and other materials).  I'm tslking about real things, not constructions from blocks or Lego.  I  used the Permies site search and put in the Permies.com site info to Google and added various related  search terms (like "tools" "build" "making" etc.).  I couldn't find anything. ???  Okay, maybe the topic is more represented elsewhere.

My own child is female, and she's now off working in the city.  When she was growing up out here, she wanted to help in the garden and with animals, kitchen stuff... and gravitated strongly to play a keyboard — she now teaches music at an arts school.  I personally helped some teenage guys, sons of friends, to expand their skills with carpentry, but didn't document the process.

There's a tremendous amount of stuff on the internet about all sorts of homesteady topics, but this one of passing on safe use of tools and of building/making skills is way underrepresented, it seems.  I don't believe that girls will never be interested in learning carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, masonry, etc but even if I search for stuff about dads teaching these things to sons the online articles and videos seem very, very few.  What gives?  Are there some little-known, hard-to-find sites or threads out there that I just haven't come across?

What do any of you know?
 
Joel Bercardin
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After making the post above quite a few days ago, I thought I’d probably see other Permies posting about how they’ve taught their kids to use tools (for practicality, or for art) — or perhaps some links revealing that there’s actually more videos or text-and-pic pages on the internet about this topic than I’ve thought. I applaud Nicole’s original post in this thread.  But after mine, no further posts.

So I thought I’d offer a suggestion.  My daughter is grown up, so I’m not in a position to develop such vids or pages here on our place.  But since many of you are now raising kids, why not consider doing a vid or two, or an illustrated page or two?  Show how you’re working with your kids to teach safe & effective use of tools to make, build, sculpt, or whatever.
 
master steward
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I split this off from Tools for a Child to do Stonemasonry  in hopes that you'd get more answers for your excellent questions.

I honestly know so little about tools and working with them, that I don't know how to teach my kids. The closest I can do is watch youtube videos with them and then try to teach myself and them at the same time. I'd love to hear other people's tips!

I mean, like with a carving knife, I remember my parents telling me to always carve away from myself and letting me go at it (I was probably 10 at the time?), but I don't know any other tips for other tools. How's the best way to weild a hammer? Tips for using a hand saw? Etc?

I do know that the Fiskar's Manual Hand Drill is a great tool for my 5 year old. Since it's not electric, he can't accidently drill into his leg, but it still does a decent job of drilling small drill holes, and he can control how fast it spits and get a bit better understanding of cause and effect than one would have with an electric drill.
 
pollinator
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“I don't believe that girls will never be interested in learning carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, masonry, etc”

Weird, I feel like almost all the kids I know who have shown real interest in carpentry or masonry have been girls, and there have been quite a few. I know a couple boys who were very geeked out on electronics, but that’s about it, and it was more in a building robots way than a “let’s replace the breakers” way. No one of any gender so far seems interested in helping me with the plumbing, alas! All the plumbers I know ended up there purely for economic reasons. I myself like carpentry and masonry, don’t mind plumbing, and detest electrical and mechanic work.

Anyway, I have found that if you have the kid’s respect, they take your safety precautions pretty seriously, and then it’s just a matter of guiding them through projects with you, first as assistant and then “here, you try it.” Real projects—ain’t nobody got time for fake kiddie projects. Some don’t like to try new things with you watching, feel self-conscious. In that case, unless the tools are really dangerous or expensive, I usually leave them with some tools and materials to play around with. Sometimes after they practice they will want to show you. Often I just silently pull out a project and start working where the kids can see, and they are all over it within minutes. The main problem is that a kid (or anybody really) can assist in 500 builds or repairs or whatever as a gofer and then go to do one on their own and end up staring at it realizing they have no idea where to start. Must lead them to make decisions, troubleshoot, develop a conceptual framework around buildings, engines, or whatever they’re working on or it’s all for naught. The tools are the easy part, as long as nobody puts their eye out or whatever. Actually half the time you can improvise an adequate but less efficient tool if necessary.
 
pollinator
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When I was in college I interned in the art museum and led educational programming for kids. One of the best sessions ever was teaching kids how to make their own woodblock prints. The kids just absolutely lit up learning to use "real" chisels and sculpting tools. I used the same principle as I did with my own kid, namely, teach them to respect the tool and then trust in the fact that as long as they are engaged in the activity, they are not going to be any less careful than an adult. It was fabulous.
I do think there is some bias about whether girls will be interested in XX or YY, and it gets internalized and girls think that they won't be interested or able to work in these areas. But when you naturally include them in these activities that falls away. I think more videos of girls doing these activities is a great start, because seeing someone who looks like you doing something is a great incentive.

(and I can't let this go without remarking....
"almost all the kids I know who have shown real interest in carpentry or masonry have been girls, and there have been quite a few. I know a couple boys who were very geeked out on electronics, but that’s about it, and it was more in a building robots way than a “let’s replace the breakers” way."
LOL. When I worked on Habitat for Humanity builds all the finish carpenters were women, and they were what I wanted to be when I grew up.
 
gardener
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Growing up, my father had a various assortment of tools. He was not in the trades, or anything near being a homesteader, but he was handy and did all the repairs and maintenance around the house. I was his helper a lot, but looking back I'm not so sure how much I actually helped. I learned a lot by watching, like when he did plumbing repairs.

When I was a child I couldn't keep my hands off of things and was taking things apart to see how they worked and (usually) getting them back together in working order. I liked to make things, from just nailing pieces of wood together or making something more meaningful like a cat house/tree for the cats to climb on.

I was probably 6 or 7 when I was allowed to use the jigsaw to cut wood. It's a fairly benign tool, won't take a hand off like a radial arm saw, and I understood it and was comfortable with using it. I was swinging a hammer at an earlier age, which I remember being a tack hammer since all the other hammers were too heavy for me to use with any constructive result. Of course I missed my target and smashed a finger or hand, but I never broke any bones and, in fact, I was in my 30's before I ever got blue nail.

If I had a young child, and citing the reference above to masonry, I would readily hand over a cold chisel and a small lightweight 8oz hammer, show them how to hold and swing a hammer, and turn them loose. Of course I would expect a swing and a miss resulting in a bruise, but that's how we learn.
 
pollinator
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Paul Sellers has a few articles about getting kids engaged in Woodworking:

Paul Sellers Woodworking Blog


My hope is that my son sees me working, and sees the joy I find in it, and wants to work alongside me - once the spark is there,  hopefully I can try out many different teaching styles/techniques until one clicks for the both of us.
 
pollinator
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My mother gave me access to the hand tools early on. I got a hammer for my second birthday, and she would set me up in the back yard near the back door with a big block of wood, and some roofing nails (big head to aim for) and let me pound away.
She would periodically come and pull the nails out so that I could continue. She could work on her chores, knowing exactly where I was, what I was doing (by hearing the noise) and when to check on me (when the noise stopped).

I also took things apart with screwdrivers (I said "drew-eyer") and put them back again. So many times that I stripped out the strike plate to our kitchen door, causing Mom to replace the door frame a few years later.

We watched "This Old House" together, back when it began, and she was learning how to do her own repairs. I was often her helper, and always along for trips to the lumberyard and hardware stores.

I think including me and allowing me to help was a big influence.
 
Joel Bercardin
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“Back in the day…”  A lot of people apply that phrase to lost skills & traditions.  But I know that back when Grandpa and even Dad were kids, many of the boys were given semi-toy tool kits like the one pictured…. maybe at age seven, eight.  I have a friend who collects odd things, a set of these being one.

The little saw would actually cut — fairly soft wood, anyway.  The tools were scaled down so as not to be too unwieldy or heavy for a kid.  The square was accurate enough, the pliers worked, the screwdriver could actually drive screws, etc.  Probably the kids were given some introduction and supervision when first using the tools.

I think kids can be introduced to tools with adult-scaled ones, but for young kids consideration has to be given to size & weight and, as posters have mentioned, degree of hazard.  This can extend to power tools like drills & cordless screwdrivers.  Instruction & supervision are crucial.
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Kid-size tool kit
 
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When my oldest child was a baby I read Peter Gray’s book “Free to Learn” which exposed me to the idea that babies and children naturally gravitate toward the tools they think are important in their culture and that hunter gatherer type cultures allow children access to all tools and supervise rather than teach. I may not be quoting him quite right since it’s been many years but this is the appproach we take with our kids and the older two knew how to use a knife with skill by age 2. Our 7 year old built us a deck for outside our RV stairs after watching carpenters building our house and collecting scraps from the house. He’s also built signs, a shed and repaired pallets etc. No teaching necessary! We just give them role models, access to the tools and supervise early on but don’t teach. I love it because they are figuring out so much on their own and coming up with ideas I may not have.
 
pollinator
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Kids are great! They always want in on the action. It's the adults that don't let them in on the action. Have no patience with them, think they will break it, hurt themselves and totally everything is dangerous. My dad used to beat tools out of my hands calling me an idiot when i tried something.I did exactly the oppostie with my daughter.
It's a ridiculous attitude, because some adults should better stay away from tools, and kids when they respect you will listen a lot better than most adults who are way to arrogant to even listen if you try to explain them what can go wrong.
Kids have weak muscles so they most of the time hurt themselves less if they make an error.
They are way more concentrated and used to learning everyday and careful, afraid of pain and they feel less stress to be quick and live up to your expectation without regard for themselves..
Ok some kids are crazy , i wouldn't teach them anything because they might do it when you're not there.
For the rest i give them tools(no power tools of course) and BE there with them, helping out , guiding, cheering on, don't give up, next time better, doesn't matter you banged your finger with the hammer, the pain will go away in a minute..
They love it!
And it's so,so,so important on all levels.
I'm sure i've changed peoples life forever by just giving them some attention and teach them they can do things and learn it themselves.
My daughter had a knife for the peanutbutter as well Sarah, she has turned out quite clumsy young woman, because i wasn't around when she grew up, but she has learned to paint and render from me. She loves the feeling of mud on her fingers. Can't wait for her to come and join me this summer. She loves cooking, knows everything about food. And she is great with art, woodwork, clay, whatever she wants to do, i'm going to do my best to help her get into tools and gardening.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Sarah Milcetic wrote:allow children access to all tools and supervise rather than teach. I may not be quoting him quite right since it’s been many years but this is the appproach we take with our kids and the older two knew how to use a knife with skill by age 2. Our 7 year old built us a deck for outside our RV stairs after watching carpenters building our house and collecting scraps from the house. He’s also built signs, a shed and repaired pallets etc. No teaching necessary! We just give them role models, access to the tools and supervise early on but don’t teach. I love it because they are figuring out so much on their own and coming up with ideas I may not have.


Thanks for your post, Sarah. 👍 You may have had a remarkable child, who was surprisingly observant, determined, and physically coordinated at an early age.  I'm glad to hear how it worked out for your 7-year-old son.  Here in my valley, we've seen all sorts of examples... sometimes a kid hurts him/herself... rather rarely a kid dies.  Hence, I'd say each child should get attention from supportive parents who can tell how much instruction seems appropriate.  Aside from any hazard, some kids get discouraged after early attempts to make or build something don't meet their expectations.
 
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Joel Bercardin wrote:  I don't believe that girls will never be interested in learning carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, masonry, etc but even if I search for stuff about dads teaching these things to sons the online articles and videos seem very, very few.  What gives?  Are there some little-known, hard-to-find sites or threads out there that I just haven't come across?

What do any of you know?



I'm a girl. I do all the tool related things, though I never touch the cars. Not my interest. I do the plumbing, electrical, masonry, etc here. Just thought I'd throw that out there.



As far as kids, my own have child appropriate tools. We got a plastic tool set for a birthday and I let them play away at that. Then we bought a child's tool set and let them use that. Now my son uses the tool set for "women" as it's smaller. Eventually they'll be using adult tools. Super easy to find all these tool sets at Walmart.
 
elle sagenev
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I think a lot of kids, and girls in particular, wouldn't have been allowed to use tools. My parents never had that rule. So enjoy these two pictures. In one of them my Daddy is teaching me how to move a light switch from one wall to another. In the other pic he's building a birdhouse with my daughter, who begged to do it.
942515_10153840174188633_858231163711454361_n.jpg
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Nicole Alderman
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When my grandparents downsized to a retirement apartment a few months back, there were a LOT of my grandfathers tools in his workshop. There were so many that my father was able to assemble a tool box for three grandchildren, as well as a more complete one for me. The kids (and I) LOVE our toolboxes. My 5-year-old will get his out to replace batteries in his toys and remotes.

My daughter loves to get her little hammer and hammer things, and try to cut stuff with her needle-nose plier. She's two and LOVES lugging around her toolbox. My sister-in-law hesitated to have my dad make a tool box for her daughter, but when she heard how excited I was to finally have my own tool box and be able to make/fix things, she let her daughter have a toolbox. My niece loves hers!
 
pollinator
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This topic is close to my heart.
Plenty of men have taught me to make and fix things,  but let me concentrate on the women here.

My first experience plumbing was with my mother.
A teacher who went back to school to get her masters in art education, she taught us to appreciate the act of creation as something we could participate in.
My older sister made me a Viking ship from cardboard,  complete with artistically rendered planks and waterproofed with wax.
She is my rebel leader to this day, and her garden is of the hook
My grandmother Helen bought me an air conditioner-and installed it.
She also bought me my first set of tools,  some of which I still have.
Great Helen was a shop steward at General Electric and a gourmet cook, as well as an unstoppable force.
We still see her in each of us.
When my daughter was 2, she would carry a tiny pail, following me as I  carried a 5 gallon bucket, on our way to water the plants.
When she was 5, she shouted over the sound of grinding, letting me know she wanted to help.
I stopped to explain that she needed safety glasses,  gloves and ear plugs, and that was why she couldn't  help.
Minutes later,  more shouting.
I look up to see her wearing oversized gloves, earmuffs,  and saftyglasses that barely stay on her face!
I had to elaborate on the dangers of a grinder, and we began her tool education in earnest.
She listens and accepts correction,  because she wants the power to create.
If I don't show her how ,  she trys it for herself.
She still gripes because we confiscated the tiny shives she crafted from the broken pair  scissors, but 7 is too young to be making shives, damn it!
When she was 6 or so we were cooking together,  and I have her a serrated knife to cut veg with.
A short time and some stitches later, I had reason to regret that decision.
In my defense, I did ask her if she could handle it, and she was a very reasonable child, so I took her word for it!
Her mother will never let me forget that incident...
She has spotting broken planks in the board walk,  insisting we fix it together, by flashlight, no less.
She is a doozer , the kind with big ideas.
Fast forward to this last Christmass.
Having learned to used all my tools except the largest hammerdrill, she wants her own powertools.
I skip the circular saw in favor of a jigsaw,  off brand Dremal, and 3/8" corded drill, along with upgrades of all kinds of hand tools.
She was ecstatic.

Last day I had off, she was busy hammering and sawing away upstairs,  while I was teaching her mother and adult brother basic drilling/driving skills downstairs.
I made pound cake, using our 1930's gas fired  Chambers oven,  and the giant toaster oven,  which is another thing she asked for for Christmass.
The Chambers oven is intimidating and inaccurate, and she wants to bake.

Turns out,  she was making a coffin for her beloved and deceased bunny rabbit, and her toaster oven baked the pound cake perfectly.
The Chambers burned the other cake,  but we ate that one too.
One of the best days ever.
Did I mention I named her after  Athena,  goddess of cafters?


Take the time to show them how you are doing things and they will respond according to their aptitude and interest.
Maybe hold off on the serrated knives,  till they are,  8 or so, or maybe not.
She has never cut herself that bad since!

 
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I for one grew up helping my dad build and do plumbing and electrical work, and all kinds of things, and I'm a woman. My dad saw my interest in all of this and taught me from an early age how to use tools safely. I can't remember a time when I wasn't allowed to try screwing something in place, or holding nails. I once helped my dad install our power pole and attach the 'control' or 'junction' box or whatever it is, lol! So girls can have these interests, too. Now, I've seen the plumbing knowledge help me as a nurse (all IV and infusion lines work on similar physics principles with gravity, friction, length of the tube, playing a part in pressures and so forth) and I'm able to do things like build my own chicken coop and garden terraces :D

I believe that women should be comfortable with as many skill as possible, so we don't end up being a vulnerable situation. However, I also feel that the delicate, nurturing part of being a woman shouldn't be lost or not valued.

I love that you are encouraging building skills at an early age! :D Like anything, if learned early, it will be better absorbed, understood and retained. Worked for me, and I only almost cut my thumb off once :P

Kelly
 
pollinator
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William - That's a fantastic story. My dad was really good about involving me in all sorts of projects and he made sure I was comfortable around tools from an early age (and my grandpa as well). But you know who taught me how to check the fluids in a car and keep them topped up? My mother.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Jennifer Richardson wrote:“I don't believe that girls will never be interested in learning carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, masonry, etc”

Weird, I feel like almost all the kids I know who have shown real interest in carpentry or masonry have been girls, and there have been quite a few. I know a couple boys who were very geeked out on electronics, but that’s about it, and it was more in a building robots way than a “let’s replace the breakers” way. No one of any gender so far seems interested in helping me with the plumbing, alas! All the plumbers I know ended up there purely for economic reasons. I myself like carpentry and masonry, don’t mind plumbing, and detest electrical and mechanic work.


Jennifer, your experience is really interesting.  There's a reason why I didn't rule out girls' potential interest in these construction-related pursuits, so I don't doubt what you've described.  In my region, it still seems fairly unusual that girls get fascinated by these areas of knowledge & skill — not that most families seem to exactly discourage it.  I believe that old-fashioned gender steering is at least a generation behind us.  And I've known three female professional carpenters in my area, two women who are welders (one professional), and one professional female mechanic.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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Joel,

I am 30, and I feel like I got gender-steering at half power, or maybe quarter power. My mom, who is about to be 70, desperately wanted to take shop in school, but was forced to take home economics, where she stapled together her sewing project and developed a life-long hatred of fried bananas. With me, it was more like I got a lot of barbies and maybe hula hoops, pogo sticks, paint sets, tea sets, easy bake ovens, stuffed animals for every birthday/holiday while boys got trucks and tool sets and sports equipment. And if I was in a group with boys, the adults would give them the nasty or mechanical tasks before me, and would give me the artsy/craftsy or kitchen type chores. But if I showed interest in something mechanical or “boyish” I wasn’t discouraged. The boys were discouraged from girly stuff, though. I was probably at a sort of advantage because I am an only child, so if my dad needed help in the shop or pasture I was the only option, so I got more exposure than a lot of girls my age.

I feel like today maybe the reason I see more girls interested in this kind of stuff is partially because artsy/crafty type stuff is seen as more for girls? And the girls have lots of projects they want to build, playhouses and garden stuff and stage sets for playing pretend and elaborate castles for their pets, and they want to paint it all and dress up to play in it, etc. so it’s not like they all want to be diesel mechanics when they grow up or something. The boys are mostly into sports and video games and don’t seem to putter around as much as the girls I know. Used to they built deer stands and worked on cars as they got older, but now people just seem to buy/pay for that stuff instead.

 
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Joel Bercardin wrote:After making the post above quite a few days ago, I thought I’d probably see other Permies posting about how they’ve taught their kids to use tools (for practicality, or for art) — or perhaps some links revealing that there’s actually more videos or text-and-pic pages on the internet about this topic than I’ve thought. I applaud Nicole’s original post in this thread.  But after mine, no further posts.

So I thought I’d offer a suggestion.  My daughter is grown up, so I’m not in a position to develop such vids or pages here on our place.  But since many of you are now raising kids, why not consider doing a vid or two, or an illustrated page or two?  Show how you’re working with your kids to teach safe & effective use of tools to make, build, sculpt, or whatever.



dont know if it is safe and effective...but it sure is real :)

hands on..discovery learning...nothing compares...this is my little yahoo granddaughter 7 yrs old and i last week...we are building her a home-a REAL home...and it is all hands on deck over there...i suppose the kids (my son and his wife) wanted her to have a taste of working with me on a grander scale, so, they let little hadsters stay home from school last week to experience a day working with me...LOL....that little thing shocked me!!! we worked with all kinds of stuff...what a day! :)  see, she is just there all of the time...and knows probably more than she should...she has not been sheltered one bit...these things are expected of her as part of the family...we all work together...doing what we can do for each other...that's really all we think about it...we just do it...i was raised that way...had two brothers...we knew they were boys and i was a girl...but, we all did what we could...no big deal on all that other crap...just get er done!
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Hugo Morvan
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Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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14 yrs with jackhammer and after rendering the wall, she liked to do in between the old stones as a feature.

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Joel Bercardin
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Jennifer Richardson wrote:I feel like today maybe the reason I see more girls interested in this kind of stuff is partially because artsy/crafty type stuff is seen as more for girls? And the girls have lots of projects they want to build, playhouses and garden stuff and stage sets for playing pretend and elaborate castles for their pets, and they want to paint it all and dress up to play in it, etc. so it’s not like they all want to be diesel mechanics when they grow up or something. The boys are mostly into sports and video games and don’t seem to putter around as much as the girls I know. Used to they built deer stands and worked on cars as they got older, but now people just seem to buy/pay for that stuff instead.


"The boys are mostly into sports and video games and don’t seem to putter around as much as the girls I know. Used to they built deer stands and worked on cars as they got older, but now people just seem to buy/pay for that stuff instead."
Hmm.  I don't know where they get the $$ to pay for "that stuff" — then again, maybe I do.  It's reported that the average household in the U.S. and Canada is in serious debt... and it isn't all on the house & little plot of land.  I suppose I could rail-on about debt for consumer goods, but that wouldn't really do anybody any good.  I'll just hope, along with others here on Permies, that common sense and some self-reliance will make a comeback.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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Location: Colorado County, TX, USA. 8b/9a. Humid subtropical, drought & flood prone
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Joel,

I agree, they’ve gotta be crazy in debt. It freaks me out—families around here used to go out to eat like 4 times a year, now I see them buying $15-$30 entrees for four plus drinks for the parents 2-3 times per week, driving bigger, newer vehicles starting at younger ages, and I could buy ribeyes for a year on what they spend on extraneous hunting/fishing equipment every year. Weird hyperconsumerist faux-redneck toys and hobbies—so strange.
 
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Kids are curious and when they see you do something they want to mimic it. This applies to your workshop more than you know. While you are focused on changing the oil tinkering with a stereo, your kids are watching and learning.
If you can take a bit of time to show them what you are up to it should appease their curiosity. You can do following things:
1)Share with your kids what the tool is used for so they know how it should be properly applied. You can also show them what it’s not used for, in fact what it could be dangerous about using it.
2)When a tool isn’t being used it should be properly stored. A knife sheathed, a screwdriver placed in a tray, screws and nails put away in boxes.
3)Teach them to value their health which includes protecting their eyesight, hearing and skin.
 
Posts: 33
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I enjoy teaching my son how to use tools, even big ones.  We would be under a tractor and he would lean back on me like a lazy boy recliner, ask a few questions then bam he was asleep.  Apparently helping dad out is soothing.  Quite a few people asked me how I can stand the constant "hey dad" coming from him.  I love being a dad and teaching him all the aspects of farming better than organic.  He is involved in every aspect of our farm.  I think reading is one of the most important tools.  He was reading the back of a ketchup bottle at the age of 4 and refused to eat it because it had high fructose corn syrup in it.  He said I'm not putting that in my body.  Being raised with knowing what is in your food makes a big difference.  He has been driving tractors since he was 2.  We built a little tractor from a maytag washing machine engine and he would put around on.  He helped me from the beginning to the end.  As a dad I'm not the best baby sitter, so the occasional grease eating " looks like chocolate"  or MM's found under the rabbit pen did make it to his mouth as a toddler, but I caught him at it. The neighbors called on me because he was to young to do such things.  As you will notice I live in Ohio out in the country, but people drive by and constantly try to make me do things their way.   At the age of 10 he could drive the big tractor!  Here is a picture of him at the age of 10.
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Nicole Alderman
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So, my kids have little cheap fire-fighter hats that they'd gotten at a free local event (you know, the crinkly plastic hats that firefighters distribute at events, and break within minutes). Anyway, they LOVE thier hats. They put them on and hide under our empty bathroom counter and pretend it's a helicopter and they fly off to fight fires or save people from floods or whatever. They've gotten lots of cracks in their hats, just from playing gently with them. I'd tried supergluing them, but it didn't last. Then I remembered that I'd gotten colored electrical tape to identify the tools in their toolboxes (my son has red tape on his tools, my daughter yellow, and me white and my husband gets green). That way, there's no fighting for the tools. I used the red electrical tape to mend the cracks in their hats and reinforce the edges (they cut the tape for me)...and then they discovered their hammers.

To prevent them from destroying our furnityre, I gave them firewood logs to smack. They loved that! So, remembering this thread, I found some old nails, and tacked them into the logs. They REALLY loved that. My 2 year old daughter hit the nail more times than not, and my son (5 years old) hammered in 8 nails--3 of which he started by himself. I was amazed! I'm thankful for this thread, because I never would have thought they could hammer in nails at this age!
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Hammering the logs (and wearing the fixed firefighter hat--it's important to learn the value of fixing things!)
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Gleefully hammering in nails!
 
Christopher Shepherd
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I was involved with the cub scouts for a few years and it amazed me how much I needed to help teach common things.  My brother in law and I cut a bunch of wood up to make bird houses one night with the cub scouts ages 7.  We showed them a finished one and had them start building.  Most of the dads stayed to help their boys.  My son was done in about 10 minutes and started helping others.  I watched as a few dads tried to teach their sons how to use a hammer that they had never used before.  Only 2 were good at it.   My son would hit the nail about 3 times and it was in.  I never knew how blessed I was or my son was to have had these skills.  We don’t even think about picking up a hammer and using it. So I set out to teach the dads and the sons.  Over the next year I rotated  nights where we would learn why and the next week run power tools .  I showed them the difference in leverage using all the hammer handle verses half way down. We drilled holes in wood and put screws in wood.  We used shovels to dig holes to show how easy it can be done if used correctly.  I had dads dragging their kids to cub scouts so they could learn together.  

I did a gun teaching where we compared a 12 gauge shot gun to and HMR 17.  We put 2 gallons of water in milk jugs 30 yard away.  I had the kids guess witch one would do the most damage.  They all voted for the 12 gauge. It was a good lesson on how such a little bullet could do so much damage.  It sunk in when they tried to find the pieces of jug left from the 17. Little boys tend to think bigger is better.  This really helped on the range with respect of firearms no matter how little.

Now that my son is 14 I’ve been teaching him how to use a chain saw.  Unlike the days gone by when you grabbed a 4 horse saw that kicks and screams, the new battery technology is awesome.  He uses a 18v ryobi that we charge with a 12v charger.  So now we can saw with the power of the sun.  We use canola oil in it for bar lube. It has a 10” bar and stops when you let off the trigger.  Its not the most powerful saw, but he cuts quite a bit of wood with it.  
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pollinator
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[quote=Joel Bercardin][quote=Sarah Milcetic]allow children access to all tools and supervise rather than teach. I may not be quoting him quite right since it’s been many years but this is the appproach we take with our kids and the older two knew how to use a knife with skill by age 2. Our 7 year old built us a deck for outside our RV stairs after watching carpenters building our house and collecting scraps from the house. He’s also built signs, a shed and repaired pallets etc. No teaching necessary! We just give them role models, access to the tools and supervise early on but don’t teach. I love it because they are figuring out so much on their own and coming up with ideas I may not have.[/quote]
Thanks for your post, Sarah. [size=17]👍[/size] You may have had a remarkable child, who was surprisingly observant, determined, and physically coordinated at an early age.  I'm glad to hear how it worked out for your 7-year-old son.  Here in my valley, we've seen all sorts of examples... sometimes a kid hurts him/herself... rather rarely a kid dies.  Hence, I'd say each child should get attention from supportive parents who can tell how much instruction seems appropriate.  Aside from any hazard, some kids get discouraged after early attempts to make or build something don't meet their expectations.[/quote]


This seems optimal to me, given opportunities exist tonuse said tools! My parents got me a few tools when I was in elementary school. I wasn't able to make the leap to actually building things; there were no materials, or fasteners, or opportunities to observe anyone building, at the time. I didn't get into building until I moved out.

But it was not a total failure, as I did discover that two 8-year-olds can fell a ~6" thick fir tree across the driveway with a fine tooth carpentry saw and a really dull hatchet in less time than it takes a parent to notice and stop them!


Having since spent some time on farms with kids on them, I'm retroactively super jealous of the stuff they get to learn at an early age.

It must be difficult for parents to accept the risk aspect, especially in the hyper safety-obsessed society we have become. The difference in capability, confidence, and maturity seems to more than justify this, in my mind. It's a feedback loop; kids who learn how to accomplish something tangible are capable and mature enough to start their own projects and work for friends or neighbours when still quite young, where they learn more skills...
 
gardener
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Grandaddy could do anything! I learned a lot from him in my early years. He was top dog when my childhood church decided to add a multipurpose room to the small complex. As we lived a literal hop skip and a jump from the church, my brother and I were frequent visitors to the job site that summer.

One day he had us up in the rafters, seated on plywood and hammering nails into 2x6s. I'm pretty sure there was no structural component to our contributions. I must say, it wasn't long before we were taking walks across the rafters. Such fun for all! Then the worry wort wives put in their 2 cants worth. Sigh. Mom and Grandma weren't among that number. But we were relegated back to the plywood platforms.

Grandaddy, and my Dad too, would simply provide us a tool and tell us to copy what he was doing, on the kid approved surface. I'm grateful for their patience with us. Dad would show us how to use a tool, and allowed to use any of his hand tools to mess around with scrap wood.

There is not much that I am afraid to try. Because of them.

 
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