How to Introduce Children to the Pleasure of Building Projects

5 Reasons Why Your Child Might Want to Spend All Their Free Time in Front of the Computer or Device (3)

One thing I notice about people who do woodworking is that the passion for it developed quite naturally and independently.

We all decided that we liked woodworking, on our own terms

I remember what got me interested. My dad used to make furniture and bits and pieces out of wood for around the home. I really liked the look of it. The wood grain, the stain, what it looked like in the room and the function it performed.

From seeing that chest of drawers in my room, I decided I wanted to do woodworking. And I started trying to have a go myself.

And it’s consistent with other woodworkers I’ve met. We all find that we have found it ourselves. (Even if someone else did show us)

So how can you give that spark of passion to your kids and other young people, without getting in the way..?

Firstly, advertise

Just like my old man unknowingly did with me, build beautiful things and let your kids be exposed to it.

No need to tell them about it (even better if you don’t, let them follow their curiosity). They will take it in, even if they don’t realize that they are.

In the workshop

Let’s talk about age

In my experience, kids up to the age of 14 are generally either two things when they get to the workshop. Really excited or a little timid.

Either of these two though is a great place to start. Kids will listen and take on your advice.

Kids after this age are a bit different. A bit more self conscious.

In short, they will only want help if they ask for it. To help them through the project, you will want to have a finished model and maybe some drawings so they can see what needs to be done.

Start with projects that kids can simply hammer together

No need for cutting or chiseling or anything else when you start. Hammering is enough. They love it.

If you are using small nails in your project, you might want some small needle nose pliers to hold them. This is so your young person can concentrate on the nail rather than trying not to hit their fingers.

Avoid measuring

To kids measuring is kind of boring. It’s not just boring its frustrating because it’s hard to draw straight lines and get the measurements right.

So my advice is to take the measuring out of your first few projects.

Here’s a good tip to do that: Use a 3mm template if possible with holes drilled in it for where you want the nails to go. It’s easy, you put it on and mark it, but the kids still feel like they are doing it.

Give them something they can customize

Even simply with paint, or a burning wand if you have one. Customizing has no wrong answers which is great for building confidence.

It also gets them spending plenty of time on their work and helps them get lost in it.

Make the project something they can use

Young people love to get stuff. Christmas, birthday, kinder surprise, the list goes on. So some of the lure to working with wood is that they get to keep what they make.

And if your child wants what it is they are building they will put a lot more effort and take more pride in it. They’ll even start to take ownership of what they are doing.

I don’t know why they just love to get stuff.

I’d also like to add here that if it’s close to mothers or fathers day, in my experience kids up to the age of 14 will enjoy making something for their parents.

Here are a couple of project ideas

  • Pencil Caddy
  • Clock (requires mechanism)
  • Storage / pencil box (without rebate joint)
  • Honey dipper (requires lathe)
  • Customized door stop
  • Magic wand
  • Toy monster truck

Overall –

I am reading a book at the moment that talks about breaking things down to the simplest form. So after reading this article, if there is only one thing that you remember before you start your project, make it this…

Progress = happiness

Young people can get frustrated and not like what they are doing if they don’t see progress.

They want to feel as though they are completing something. That the actions they are taking are making a difference. And getting them somewhere.

If your young person feels though they are making progress, they will keep at woodworking. And learn the pleasure and all of the other great things that come with building projects.

All the best in your woodworking…