Published June 23, 2012
Does your child recognize the type of screwdriver you use as readily as the type of iPod he or she can buy?
In today’s high-tech world, hands-on skills get short shrift. Shop class has been replaced with social media education, and parents struggle to pull their kids away from mobile devices, 3D televisions and video game consoles for even a minute.
Millennials have grown accustomed to this sensory overload, with recent data suggesting that younger generations consume more than 14 hours of media on a daily basis.
Technological innovations have led to a more connected and well-informed society – anyone looking for a handy tip or home project can simply enter the query into a search engine or access a social community online. But at what cost is this taking place?
Do it yourself skills (DIY) and the requisite byproducts of socialization, camaraderie and higher self esteem are falling by the wayside, and children are now more familiar with a computer monitor than a workbench.
With this in mind, the editors at The Family Handyman, have compiled a list of nine ways you can get your kids off the couch and into the workshop with dad (and mom) this summer.Who knows, they just might like it!
1. Introduce tools one or two at a time. Kids are easily frustrated. Be careful not to go too fast. Let kids handle a tool, see how it works and feel a sense of accomplishment with it before moving on to another one.
2. Work at their height. You don’t like a work surface that’s too high, low or wobbly, and neither do kids. You can buy child-size workbenches from school supply catalogs, cut down an existing workbench or make one yourself. The workbench top should be at least 2 x 4 ft. and stand 24 in. high for preschoolers and 27 in. high for elementary-age kids.
3. Screw into drywall first. Start some screws in a scrap of drywall and let the kids screw them in with a screwdriver or a kid-size cordless screwdriver. Drywall is a lot easier to screw into than wood.
4. Whack on bubble wrap. To a kid who’s not quite ready to drive nails, nothing feels better than whap, crackle and pop. Supply a kid-size hammer or a rubber mallet.
5. Build a bolt board. Wrenches are great for beginning tool users. Sink different-size bolts into board, then let children use wrenches to attach color-coordinated nuts.
6. Cut up foam core. Clamp some foam core to a workbench and let kids saw it into strips. Foam core is easier to saw through than wood, and a keyhole saw is perfect for small hands. You can buy foam core at craft, art and office supply stores.
7. Don’t toss that trash. Taking apart a broken gadget like a fan or toaster is great for young minds and fingers. Kids get to unscrew things, learn how something is put together and have fun.
Note: If you don’t happen to have anything broken lying around, you can buy small appliances cheaply at yard sales or thrift stores. Look for older versions. The newer appliances are mostly snap-together plastic. Skip electronic devices, which might have potentially dangerous parts.
8. Don’t do it for them. The biggest challenges for experienced DIYers are time and patience. It’s very easy for an adult to take over and just do things for their child, but you have to let kids learn by doing, not watching.
9. Play by the (safety) rules. Here they are: Always wear safety glasses. Tie up long hair. Wear closed-toe shoes. Clean up after each work period. When using a saw, clamp the wood or secure it in a vise and have kids hold the saw with both hands or put one hand behind their back to prevent accidents.
Additional DIY tips, product recommendations and more can be found online at www.familyhandyman.com or in the July issue of The Family Handyman.
About The Family Handyman: The Family Handyman provides the DIY community with inspiration, guidance and confidence to tackle any home project. It gives consumers step-by-step instructions from real life voices of experienced DIYers on how to avoid the pitfalls and do the job right the first time, no matter what their skill level. Obtain a subscription at www.FamilyHandyman.com or on your favorite digital download device.