As I have mentioned in previous posts, we use the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling while incorporating Waldorf techniques. Lately I have been thinking about the direction our weekly rhythm needs to go in the realm of handicraft. Charlotte Mason encouraged educators to teach children a useful craft or skill, not simply tom make quick projects that would end up in the trash in a few weeks. During this, my first year of homeschooling, I have found so many tempting quick crafts to supplement our lessons, and while some have turned out to be useful for other lessons or treasured seasonal decorations, many were discarded after a few weeks of hanging on the fridge.
Charlotte Mason wanted students to learn something more meaningful than a quick craft - a life skill. Waldorf education hits this right on with elementary-aged children learning watercolor painting and knitting. We are going to move in this direction by turning our handiwork time toward useful, and therefor, treasured results and then move more toward a life skill that the boys will carry with them as they grow to be men. With this in mind, I am ready to whip out the knitting needles or woodworking tools, but I pull back in mind of what Charlotte Mason says, "No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course." and, "The points to be borne in mind in children's handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children's work should be kept well within their compass."
We practice this "perfection" in copywork lessons, but in handiwork, not so much. I tend to give my boys handiwork that could take up to an hour to complete, but find that at times they become frustrated because I have not taken the time to show them how to do it properly or they grow weary of the project and their works gets sloppy. So today we are starting a new project and I will take time to show them how to do it, although it is quite easy, but maybe not for little hands. I will also allow them several days to complete their project. And the project will be of use to our family: Yarn Jars - just what we need to organize homeschool supplies and brighten our learning space. (Inspired by Donni at The Magic Onion.)
1. Pick out colorful yarn.
2. Stick 3 vertical strips of double-sided tape down the jar about 1 inch apart
3. Wrap the yarn around and around.
4. Spend about 10 minutes a day wrapping the yarn until done.
Use double-sided tape to hold the the ends of the yarn on the jar.
Here are a few links to other thoughts on Charlotte Mason and Handiwork:
Handicraft becoming Life Skills
What are you and your children doing for useful handicraft? I would love to know. (Feel free to leave a link to a pinterest board or blog post of your own useful crafts in the comments section.)