Imagine we just met at a cocktail party (yes, here in France!)
In between nibbles of hot-out-of-the-oven fresh, crusty bread topped with chunks of delicious local cheese, we’d get to chatting.
One thing would lead to another & you’d probably ask me what I do.
I’d take a sip of wine, then say something like :
“ I have a virtual school where I teach
homeschooling Moms how creative handwork
can help their kids be happy, live well &
prepare for their future ”.
Then one of two things would probably happen…
You’d politely nod, catch the eye of the hostess & float off in search of a re-fill, thinking:
“Really? In this day & age? Why would anybody spend time teaching their kids manual activities in today’s digital world?
Ohhh, look – mini quiches…”
You’d lean in & say:
“Really ? Tell me more. I know handwork is important for kids but I can never really put my finger on why they need it .
Ohhh, look ~ just a sec, let’s get some of those mini quiches first…”
If you’re here & sticking around to chat, you know handwork is MORE than important
– it is ESSENTIAL
– not just as a way for us to express ourselves creatively but also to build our brains (yes, our brains continue to change everyday regardless of our age!), feel good & have fun.
Recently, after several decades of researching creativity, studying handwork & making loads of lovely things
– I’ve come to a few interesting conclusions which I’d like to share with you.
# 1 – It’s all natural
Handwork is about more than just working with fibre (although it’s probably the most portable & accessible material & my “hands-down” favourite way to do handwork).
Transforming any natural material counts.
In the end, it’s not about which material you use
– it’s about the making.
Take an intangible idea,
mix it with some natural materials
& make something new = handwork.
#2 – It’s a whole new world
Doing handwork – whether you’re using soft or hard materials – changes how your brain actually works (we’re talking building & re-wiring it!), how your body functions & ultimately how you feel about yourself & others.
Every time you make something
(or even think about it) your world changes.
Which string is worth more?
Who knew all that could be wrapped up in a single chain of finger knitting or tiny knit square ?
For some reason people assume that memorizing strings of facts is much more important for children than manipulating an actual piece of string. An activity like braiding a doll’s hair or sewing a small felt pouch can teach them as much or even more than rhyming off their times tables.
Have you ever wondered why math & language seem to be at the top of the subject pile & working with our hands barely rates a spot in most learning environments?
I believe it’s because handwork has been getting a bad rap since long before the industrial revolution started grinding its wheels. (BTW -that’s when many free, public schools were founded. Their main emphasis was to train the masses to be good factory workers.)
Here’s some OLD News
You’ve probably heard of this before – it’s not a fast-breaking newsflash.
There were basically 2 types of students in those grade schools – those who were cut out to MAKE & those who were destined to THINK.
Back then, they saw it like this :
You take a bunch of kids, weed out the ones who are “smart”, stream them towards an “academic” education filled with letters & numbers so they can ultimately oversee the manual labour (or hand-work) of their former classmates who had been deemed “less smart”.
Meanwhile on the flip side…
The elite sent their children to “private” schools or simply kept them home, hiring tutors to create a customized curriculum to suit their needs & interests. Since those children most likely had parents who were products of an academic up-bringing, their education would focus on the “important” subjects, the ones deemed necessary for social advancement or leading others.
Of course, those students needed something to fill their (ample) leisure hours, so their studies likely included “extra” moments when they worked with their hands – dabbling in a bit of painting or embroidery, tending their prized rose garden or riding their horse.
For those children, the idea of actually DOING something was seen as a way to relax & demonstrate their extra-curricular abilities – certainly not as anything really IMPORTANT.
We’ve inherited the strange idea that academic studies are
more valuable than hands-on work.
DANGER AHEAD !
A concept which is as antiquated as the first steam engines.
It’s not only old-fashioned but down-right WRONG –
I’d go so far as to say :
it’s actually dangerous to believe it anymore.
It’s no longer safe to assume your child will only ever be an academic or a maker because the world has changed & continues to change at such an amazing speed – there’s no telling where we’ll end up!
Were you a BRAINER, a JOCK or ARTSY ?
What clique were you in?
Remember how the cafeteria was naturally organized into various groups? How there were certain tables you would never have dreamed of approaching?
I was one of the “wild” ones – I didn’t do stuff that was illegal in a right or wrong sense but certainly focused on breaking as many social conventions as possible & enjoyed crossing the line between the “brainers” & the “others”.
Yes, I was the one who wore outrageous clothes & dressed like Boy George in high school. (sorry, no pic…!)
My friends & I were the ones who snuck off downtown to watch sub-titled foreign films & bought insanely expensive British magazines (this was eons before the internet-age) so we could be the first to know about the newest bands & fashions.
We had an insatiable desire to make & experience as many new things as possible.
Back then, I always felt so brave when I dared to spend an extra hour designing a new outfit or brainstorming in my sketchbook instead of finishing my algebra homework.
Smart girls just didn’t do that.
But I did.
I bet you did, too.
Why blacksmiths are rare these days…
That was a few decades ago – it might as well have been several centuries!
Since you homeschool, I’m sure you know it’s time to start looking at what our children really need in order to thrive & survive in the 21st century.
We have to stop taking an either/or stance when it comes to the academic vs creative parts of our children’s lives.
In the not-so-distant past, it was OK to give them a one-horse education – pick something (- usually it was the parents who did the choosing!), make sure they were good at it & they’d be set for life.
Today, our children need to participate in their education not just absorb rote-knowledge since there are myriad paths to get where they’re going.
Maybe they need a horse, a Porsche, a motorcycle, a jet or they’re planning to walk.
You can’t know & neither can they.
They need a HOLISTIC education – one that includes many types of learning & experiences so their mind & body stay flexible – ready to switch modes whenever it’s necessary.
We have to take their education into our own hands.
This means thinking for ourselves so we can teach them how to think for themselves.
It’s not that the old-style knowledge isn’t any good – it is – it’s just that we have to
re-envision how & when we teach it to reflect the modern world we live in!
Talking about change & actually doing something about it are two very different things.
Time’s running out for all the chat, now we have to step up & start making a new type of education for our babes.
It won’t be quick or easy but
every stitch, twist, cut, swish of a brush or fall of a hammer will count.
Need a Map ?
To help you out & give you a head start,
I’m gifting you a Handwork Map which I created showing the many ways you can help your young child safeguard & build the wonderful creative brain they arrived with.
Consider it a beginner’s map to Hands-ON education.
NO need for loads of special tools or materials – you probably already have most of what you need to get started!
If you see an exciting new future ahead of your child, as I do for mine….
Come & be a part of the Handwork Revolution.
- Click on the chart above (perfect for children 3 months to 6+ years).
- Get INSTANT access to the Handwork Resource Library.
- Print out your own copy & take a look.
- Pick an activity you’ve never tried before – any one is fine.
- DO it with your child sometime this week.
- Enjoy knowing you’re helping your little one make their world!
Tell me about what you did… I’d love to share it with other
Make a difference for your child today !
Click HERE to print your Early Handwork Activities & Skills Map!