Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Morning Knitting Club Update

The Friday Morning Knitting Club is going strong!  The children (girls and boys) were learning well beyond my expections (remember, the children are 7 & 8 yrs old).  The children were separated into 2 groups of 4 - 5 students each.  As with any group, some had immediate success, some had very little success, and the majority were trucking along somewhere in between.  The teacher (fabulous woman!) helped me to divide the groups so that the skill levels worked well within each group and that allowed me to help some while giving others more direct attention.

Both groups had started on a beginning project -- a beaded bracelet.  I put together a project bag for each child that contained a ball of cotton yarn, a set of size 8 needles and a written pattern.  I wrote the pattern in a standard pattern format, but with more detailed steps.  I wanted them to learn more than just the knit stitch, but how to start a project, how to read a pattern, and how to finish a project.

I gave each child a packet and asked them to take out the contents.  We started by reading the Materials (Things You Will Need) section, and I asked them to make sure they had all the items.  I had the beads on paper plates (bowls would have worked well too) in the center of the table, so it gave the children the chance to note that an item was missing from the list.

They each picked out 7 beads. Then we turned to the Pattern Instructions (Things You Will Do) section and began by reading the first step.  Everyone began to move at their own pace from here on out and I was able to float among them as needed.  We kept the time for each group to about 20 to 25 minutes.  Attention spans waned and wandered after that, and it allowed me to work with all of the students each week.

By the 3rd week, the children were comfortable with each other and looked forward to coming.  Their skills were not progressing as much as their enthusiasm, but that wasn't important at that point.  On that 3rd week, something unexpected and amazing happened.  Each group morphed into a real knitting group!  By that I mean that they did just exactly what all of us adults do when we sit down to knit or crochet with others--they began to talk about whatever was on their minds, to share ideas, family tidbits, and successes.

I was reminded of times when my own girls were toddlers and just getting their feet to take flight. They would take off running in one direction while looking in another, and run smack dab into a wall or doorway (it only took once for each child).  The Friday Morning Knitters (FMK) were doing the same; their hands kept moving and they looked at each other when they talked--with about the same success.  Stitches slipped off, or the yarn didn't get wrapped around the needle.  But all that gave me great opportunities to teach them the correct way to do things, and gave me many chuckles.

Things were going quite well . . . until standardized testing interrupted! During the testing, no volunteers are allowed on campus, and we had to stop for several weeks.  So today, my expectations were not very high; they are quite young, after all.  But, again, I was surprised by these little people.  Their muscles still remembered the basics, but most importantly to me, their enthusiasm had not flagged during the hiatus.

I don't hold any lofty thoughts of how they will go home and knit this summer, but I do hope that each one has had a positive experience with a craft. And that the next time a needle or hand-craft opportunity presents itself, they will take it with the same enthusiam and joy that they did this year.