Are Your Students Ready to Learn Sewing?

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Student Readiness to Learn Sewing

Most people want to know at what age a child should begin their sewing lessons. Chronological age is the least important of all criteria. Other criteria such as socialization, reading, dexteriy, and curiosity are much more important. Most any student of any age can complete any garment project with enough time and assistance from a teacher. What we want for DIRECTIONS students is the ability to perform the work on their own. Since Age is the most asked about, we will talk about it first.

Age

Very generally speaking, age 7 is about right for starting sewing lessons. There are some 6's who will be ready, and some 8's who won't be. The majority of children who have completed first grade are ready.

The ages of 5 and 6 can usually run the sewing machine with a teacher guiding and helping at every stitch. They lack the ability to comprehend the task so it can be applied again later. It's all just fun to them! This age will have to be re-taught the basics every time they come to class. They will also need someone to read the lessons to them as their reading skills have not yet developed. Now before you go off flaming me because your five-year-old reads just fine, remember I am speaking in a general fashion about the public at large, which, of course, is not nearly as clever as your own offspring :)

7's and 8's really enjoy their sewing lessons, and learn rapidly as they progress through each skill. They have an easy time remembering from one week to the next the skills they have learned. They enjoy making and wearing the simple projects they are capable of at the beginning.

9's and 10's move quickly through the lessons. They think they know everything! Which they do! Just not the things you'll be teaching them in your sewing classes :) Most all 9 year-olds have the desire and ability to learn sewing. This group tends to be more creative after the basics are learned.

Reading

The student should be able to read the most basic of early-reader books. Dr Suess, the Berenstain Bears, and other simple books are the kind I'm talking about. Level 1 is written at a second grade reading level, so if the student has completed the First Grade (or have comparable reading skills), they are in a good position to understand the study guide on their own.

You may need to help with pronounciation of sewing-specific words. "Seam Gauge" is probably a new sound for most beginning sewists, as is "measure". Their sewing lesson is probably the first time the student will have seen words like these in print. You can help them sound it out.

Dexterity

Shoe-tying: can the student tie their shoes neatly and quickly? The bow should have even size loops; the tails should be mosty even, and the knot should be secure.

Name-writing: can the student write their name in all the same size letters? All letters should be forward facing. Either all caps or the advanced caps/lower form is fine.

Coloring: Can the student follow the lines and keep the colors where s/he wants them? Can the student outline a shape, then color it in?

All of the above signifies a completion of the cognitive loop between the eye, the hand, and the brain. This is the stage at which sewing can be learned and remembered. The student is able to see what the hand is doing and make a correction while the task is underway. This is more advanced and desirable in student than seeing what needs to be corrected after the task is finished. Or not noticing a corrections needs to be made at all!

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