When it comes to sharing woodworking with my grandkids, I keep it simple. In fact, I really don’t care if they take a shine to woodworking, I would just rather they get the opportunity to be creative.
When they come over for a visit, they don’t ask if they can do woodworking, they just ask, “Can we build?”
At this point, I have done very few structured projects, I usually just let the kids have at it with the bin of wood scraps. Kids don’t need to be told what to build with the scraps, their imaginations kick into high gear and they figure it out naturally.
I call this the “empty box effect.” An empty box is an open ended toy and a child’s imagination starts exploring all of the possibilities of what the box can become. The same thing happens with the wood scraps.
During the kids’ build sessions, there is plenty of opportunity to teach them about safety, how to use the tools, and problem solving skills.
I think that both structured and unstructured projects have their own advantages and lessons to offer, so I do not necessarily value one over the other. But I will admit that structured projects require more prep time because you have to make parts in advance.
When working in the shop, the kids are exposed to a limited set of dangers, but that is an inherent risk of having them in the shop. Overall, the exposure is controlled and gauged according to the abilities of each child.
The fear of allowing kids into the shop will never give them the opportunity to learn self-control and respect for the tools and a somewhat hazardous environment. Personally, I don’t see that it is any less hazardous letting kids ride a bike, a skateboard, or jump on a trampoline. I will not allow an unreasonable fear to keep my grandkids from such a valuable learning experience as they have in my shop.
In the end, I am trying to develop a culture of activity, creativity, and exploration in my family. I think all of the benefits of this far outweigh the perceived dangers.
And to think, I have not even mentioned the added benefit of the hours that the kids have spent with me, Grandpa Todd. There is enough content and lessons there for another blog.
I hope you enjoy the video.
Your friend in the shop-
Todd A. Clippinger
Leave a Legacy – Share the Love, Share the Knowledge
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