Teaching traditional skills and craftsmanship to your children

The evidence against screen time is mounting: recent research suggests that the rise of tablet and smartphone usage in young children is inhibiting development of fine motor skills that are typically gained through crafts, sports, and outdoor play. But what can be done about this? One way of offsetting the inhibiting effects of screen time is to instill in your children a penchant for traditional skills and craftsmanship. Emphasizing traditional skills to your children will help them develop their fine motor abilities through hobbies that encourage them to create and play with others.

Fine motor development
Fine motor skills are involved in smaller movements that occur in the wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes. These skills begin in infancy, but primary school in the age where children develop more acute control in fine motor growth. Traditional skills such as sewing, handwriting, and tying knots are all great examples of hobbies that promote fine motor development. For instance, in previous decades, many young children learned to tie a sailor’s knot as an exercise to improve dexterity. Much like riding a bike, these skills are thought to have a lifelong warranty: if your child learn to be proficient in tying knots, for instance, muscle memory will kick in and they will be able to repeat the skill over the course of their adult lives.

Emphasizing penmanship
Many educational experts warn that children are increasingly demonstrating poor handwriting abilities thanks to a reliance on tech in the classroom and at home. And while computer proficiency is an invaluable skill, it’s important to teach your children legible, clear handwriting skills so that they their writing is easily understood by teachers and exam boards. One way to do this is to encourage your children to use handwriting at home in their hobbies, such as handwritten letters to family or finding a penpal in a different country. You can also show them practical skills, such as how to address and envelope or write out shopping lists with you, that way they have an impetus for handwriting in everyday life.

Embroidering and needlework
Embroidery is another great, practical hobby for school-aged children that increases fine motor development. To start, teach your child basic stitches on scraps of fabric, using really big stitches so they are clearly able to see their work (save more complicated stitches for later). Of course, always be sure to use a child’s sewing kit so that the needles are safe for children and read the instructions on the packaging. Using bright, colorful patterns is also a good option when teaching children needlework. Eventually, they will reach the point where they are able to personalize their wardrobes by embroidering designs onto them with little difficulty.

It can be challenging to find tech-free activities to occupy your child’s free time. But the results are well worth it. Teaching children traditional skills will instill in them a love for craft and building, skills that they can carry into their young lives.

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