When I began the Kid’s Camp at the corporate employer the goal was to get kids to knit stuffed animals (remember those horrible little arugurumi creatures!?). Every bout of kids turns up total failure: not a single child has finished a project. I’d blame myself, but I refuse to take credit for this failure: expecting 6-year-olds to learn the cast-on, knit and bind-off, plus the single crochet in two 2 hour sessions (with a week’s span between the two sessions, no less!) is RI-DIC-ULOUS! But progress was made: my first session resulted in one child crying, another jamming her needles up her nose and another somehow ending up with a skein of yarn in an IMpossible lump of knots. I’m really ashamed of this, I assure you. The second group of students ended with one girl completing a solid half of an octopus, all mastered the knitted cast-on and 2 of the (five? I think?) managed to successfully knit a few rows. This last class seems pretty hopeless, but we’ll see how I salvage it tonight.

You see, children under ten, I find, cannot focus for two hours straight: their small bladders give way, their attention-spans work against them and their motor-skills, especially under the age of eight, are antagonizing. Over ten? Few problems. I firmly believe that if the camp ran, say, two weeks, with an hour everyday, I could get some results. My theory is, though, that when at the end of two hours arrives, the kids are frustrated, confused and feeling pretty crummy about their lack of results. The last thing they want to do is go home and practice immediately: which is what they need to do, to commit it to muscle memory. By the time week 2 with another 2 hour block arrives, we mostly review what we already learned. Inevitably there is one mother who insists her child should master all the skills required for a sweater, and inevitably some student thinks she deserves all my attention (it’s never the child correlating with the demanding mother, either).

I’ve learned from this:

  • don’t push kids to do what they don’t want to do when they really are trying–let them be comfortable with what they CAN do.
  • DO push kids when they have needles up their nose–that isn’t something a kid should be comfortable with.
  • Definitely let the kids take bathroom breaks, but have a designated time in which EVERYone makes the trip to the bathroom. Also, make sure none of the children find an empty cart and go for “rides.”
  • Make sure the parents understand: everyone learns at different rates, and maybe they’ll have an octopus or cuddly fish for their room–but they very well may not.
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