Children learn necessary skills and abilities by playing and interacting with their environment, toys they receive and social groups they move in. In today’s digital world, there is a lost generation of children who can use smart phones as early as they can grab things but can’t tell a plier from wrench. They can make record killings on online ‘Fortnite’ game yet cannot drive a small nail through piece of wood. Amidst the worries of screen time, online education, and sedentary lifestyle, parents often forget that why learning real-working tools are important for growing children. In wake of the handicaps that today’s digital world is producing, this article aims to highlight various advantages that early use of tools can provide to kids today and in their societal growth in future.
Advantages of teaching kids real-working tools
Pakistani children in general lag behind technical skills as the approach to education is mainly bookish and outdated. However, advanced curriculums are now making ways to the country and federal government is already running pilot studies on STEM schools. Parents are now becoming more aware of need for new skills and technical knowledge instead of traditional approaches to upbringing. Among various other life skills, use of real working tools and gadgets are an excellent way of developing your child’s personality. We have already discussed how redesigning school structures to adapt to new learning styles can greatly shift mindset of children towards practical application of concepts and excitement for new ventures. Similar concept can be applied to the toys and gadgets we select for our kids.
Read More: Redesigning Schools and Learning Spaces
Kids and tools together might sound scary to some parents as we naturally develop a fear for protection of our children. However, there are several ways in which your child can learn and safely use real tools for small projects. There are numerous advantages of teaching your child how to use real working tools. Some of them include:
- Improve hand-eye coordination
- Increase concentration and patience
- Improve problem solving skills
- Build muscle strength
- Teach value of objects around
- Improve decision making and self-reliance
- Boost Self-esteem and confidence
- Reduce reliance on useless activities like excess screen time
- Prepare for real world chores and fixing small issues
Best tools to teach young children to use
Teaching children how to use tools should not be scary as it can taught in small and carefully considered steps. Based on the recommendations of various DIYers and tool experts, we have prepared a list of tools that you can introduce to your kids in various steps. Teaching them how to use these tools can not only satisfy their curious nature but also make them self-reliant and productive kids.
Given the safe nature of measuring tape, you probably won’t even consider this a real tool. But it is, in fact, one of the most important tool if you have to build anything or cut anything. Measuring tape is a great tool for any age. Start with involving kids in different projects, whether your own or for them. Ask them to measure and mark for a given length or width. This can be a great for their mathematic skills as well.
Hammer is again a very basic tool that can be taught to children. For younger kids, one can start with rubber mallet or kid-sized hammer and use it to even just whack a bubble wrap or drive tiny thumb pins in soft boards. Once the child gets his/her balance right with hammer, start with thin hard boards and make them drive nails in them. Be sure to teach them proper safety rules first and supervise until they get the hang of it.
A rather safe tool for older kids, screwdrivers are often played around with for opening toys at most homes. Boys are generally natural in using this tool for opening cars, battery compartments and other electronic toys. However, kids of both gender should be taught to use a screwdriver to fix things in their later life. You can start by using a broken toy or any electronic device like old clocks for this purpose. Open up the device or toy, lay different screws in front the child and ask them to fix them in appropriate places. This can be an extremely fun learning activity, done with an aim to teach them how to unscrew things and then fix them.
Instead of buying a whole set of different wrenches, start with adjustable wrench at your home. Give your child different tasks of tightening or loosing stuff by adjusting the wrench size. For instance, they can use wrench to tighten the muslin shower leaking valves or tighten or loose bicycle screws and bolts. Once they understand using it, you can get them a set of different sized wrenches for ease of job.
Pliers are an extremely useful hand tool that can come handy in various tasks. Teach your child to use plier by making them hold nuts while they tighten or loosen screws. You can also provide kids with board full of nails and ask them to remove nails using pliers. For older kids pliers can be used to straighten, twist, splice or cut wires or safety wrap around the wires.
Using drill machines is definitely not recommended for younger kids. But for kids above 10-12 years of age, cordless drill machines are an excellent choice. However, learning to use this tool should be only done when kids are already involved in and familiar with use of other tools. Driving nails in boards and walls using light drills uses muscle power and can be done initially with help of elders for balance. Using safety work glasses and other precautions is important as well.
Unlike the power saws, coping saws are very safe for middle school children. It can be a great first cutting tool for your kid as it has safety ring and is very lightweight. Make them use coping saw on light ply woods or soft boards to start with. Coping saw also results in improvement in upper body muscle as it requires arm strength.
Even if you live in a small apartment, providing children with gardening tools can be a great idea. Use big pots and get your child some of gardening tools like shovel, rake, hedge shears, gardening fork, pruners, or trowel. Not only will such tools help them learn how to plant but it can also be a great activity for families, not to forget the joy of watching the plants grow.
Important Considerations for Parents
As parents, we strive to make our children capable and responsible human beings. However, sheltering them from adventurous or challenging situations does not help them in future. In today’s modern world, there should be no stereotyping regarding understanding of technical learning. Therefore, we recommend teaching your kids use of tools from an early age. Some of the important considerations in this regard include the following:
Play by the Safety Rules
While we discourage overly protecting parenting, safety rules should be reinforced again and again regarding use of tools until you feel the child is capable of handling it him/herself. Make certain rules about using tools, whether for projects, for some home appliance or self-created problem. Some of the common rules include using safety glasses, no loose hair, using gloves when needed, and position the body properly when using power or sharp tools.
Make proper work places for projects
It is not possible for every family to afford a separate garage like place for tool related projects. However, a separate corner or place with proper table can do as a work station for kids’ projects. Understand that mechanical work needs stable surfaces and appropriate according to child’s height.
Let the child handle work and don’t look for perfection
Even in teenage, kids are young and learning. Providing tools to use and letting children take their time to learn requires patience from parents’ side. Let children work on their own and do not do the tasks for them. Instead just assist them when needed and do not expect perfect results immediately. They will get there in their own time.