Fiber crafts — a broad brush for all those fun activities using yarn or fibers–include knit, crochet, weaving, felting, embroidery, and more. They are tactile, three-dimensional, non-messy, non-dangerous, and fun to do. Plus you can make useful things and gifts for everyone you know. So besides those usual pluses, getting kids interested (and skilled) at using their two hands to manipulate materials has other significant benefits.
- It builds brain.
Biologists tell us that exercising neural pathways in the brain prevents atrophy and strengthens our ability to think. We exercise those pathways, or nerve conne tions, by using both of our hands. Our left hand/right brain link and the right hand/left brain link are exercised and stimulated by doing repetitive activities that engage both hands. That’s why early childhood education focuses on “hands-on” activities. Helping children grow up smarter, our hands actually teach the brain new tricks, so to speak. One hand operating a mouse or joystick? Not much at all.
2. It’s calming.
Handwork is relaxing—you must pay attention to detail. Other issues and anxieties are forgotten for the moment. For kids who have a hard time sitting still, handwork helps them focus on the moment. Moments stretch into minutes, and pretty soon you have something you’re involved in.
3. Making something gives pleasure.
It’s good to feel productive. Transforming string into a useful object teaches kids they can do powerful things, if they stick to it. Doing work creates a positive sense of self. It’s satisfying to see a finished row of stitches and a (finally) completed project. It’s a real confidence builder to make something that’s part of the real world, not just a toy. Say, a potholder. Or an eyeglass case. Something simple, yet real.
4. It develops imagination.
As you work on a project,you anticipate how it will turn out. What will this row look like? What will the entire project look like? What if I make it longer, shorter, etc.?? The anticipation reinforces imagination as you work on something that is future oriented. If it’s going to be a gift, you imagine what others will think or feel.
5. It will build self-discipline.
In order to finish a project, one needs concentration, perseverance, and accuracy. It requires self-discipline. The result is pride and an increased ability to do the craft in the future. No one ever completed a project without disciplining themselves to get it done.
For All Ages
Certainly, children will gain a lot from using their hands, their brains, and a few scraps of yarn. But, keep in mind that there’s no age limit on these benefits. If you decide to take up crochet at age forty (or later), it will only do you good. Researchers are finding that knit and crochet have significant benefits for older adults, either in building thinking skills or staving off the loss of cognitive ability. So, perhaps it’s an activity you should do with children, too. Everyone needs another potholder, right?