I taught my second class at our local middle school and I must say, I have learned a few lessons in just these couple of hours spent with plucky young tweens.
- Let them lead and follow their interests; they will set a great pace for their learning! I have a couple of students who are farther ahead and more interested. They can actually take pretty good care of themselves . . . with a little encouragement.
- Bring “ready to knit” rectangles already on the needles–it took me a few extra minutes to cast on 5 sets of stitches and knit through a few garter rows, but wow–what a difference! The kids could just pick up and learn to KNIT and I could visit with each of them for some one-on-one instruction. And when they made a mistake or lost a stitch, they were less “tied” to the knitting, and so, less nervous and panicked.
- Divide and conquer. One of me and six of them means coming up with an alternative activity to engage at least 1/3 to 1/2 of them while I got the others started with their knit stitches. This time, it was a fiber swatch guessing game: I gave them swatches from hemp, cotton, wool, superwash merino, acrylic, and a cashmere blend along with a fact sheet about the fiber. Their task: match the swatch to the description. They worked in teams and then we did a big reveal at the end. One of the best things about the exercise was getting the kids comfortable with handling knitted objects and not being afraid to touch and stretch and play around.
- Let them make mistakes! It’s actually the best way to learn–I know it, you know it, but it’s hard to see someone else falter . . . let them! They can then see how knitting actually works.
- Praise, praise, and more praise. Who doesn’t like praise?
By the middle of Lesson 2, the kids were sitting, stitching, and talking. One young lady even turned to me and said “this is so relaxing!” Mission accomplished!