There are benefits for adults, is knitting good for kids too
I knit. I am a loud and proud knitter (refer to Knitting and crochet groups in Brisbane). I learnt to knit and crochet as a child around 5 or 6 years of age and I was taught by my mother and grandmother. My grandmother and great grandmother would sit in the lounge room, watch TV, chat and do some sort of yarn based craft. I remember their knitting being being both a solitary pursuit as well being a group one, as at many family get togethers aunties and great aunties would bring their projects and they would be compared and analysed, corrected and tweaked.
I remember watching these ladies turn a boring piece of yarn into something amazing - blankets, jumpers and tea cosies. I so wanted to be able to do what they were doing, which was weave something using little more than a piece of yarn and a hook or pair of needles. Children today are still amazed by this, my nieces and nephews have asked to learn to knit as has my four year old son. I still remember the day my grandmother sat down with me and taught me how to crochet and the day I was given a plastic pair of knitting needles and my mother taught me how to cast on and knit. Both of these ladies are now gone but the memories still remain as do the techniques they passed on.
Now we know that knitting is good for adults. There has been plenty of articles published on the internet and in social media promoting the health benefits. I know myself that knitting allows me to relax, keeps my hands nimble (I suffer with arthritis) and gives my creative brain a workout. Following a coded pattern or writing your own code can be like solving a cryptic crossword or sudoku but rather than a scribbled on piece of paper at the completion you have a useful garment or toy.
Apart from the positive and secure social interaction I got from working with my mother and grandmother what else did learning to knit provide me with as a child? Well, this is an interesting question. The educational philosophy of Steiner/Waldorf schools has been promoting the use of craft in the early childhood years of schooling since their inception in the early twentieth century, encouraging the emphasis on the whole development of the child — spiritual, physical, moral and academic -(Steiner Education Australia).
The tactile process of knitting and crochet develops children's fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and spacial recognition. The following of or the creating of a pattern develops language skills through the use of using code and maths skills by the use of numbers and graphs. Children are encouraged to become problem solvers either to complete their project or to decide what to do with it after they have completed it. There is a huge amount of history, geography and science attached to knitting - the need for people to knit as a necessity in the past, different styles of weaving from country to country, evolution of synthetic yarns and fibre strength. The list can go on. Finally, risk taking and failure (something children don't get exposed to enough), as the project they are working on may not work out, it may fail. Rather than a broken bone or an expensive mistake the project can be pulled apart and the started again
The skills required for knitting are being linked to the skills needed for computer programming, mathematical design and hyperbolic geometry. I cannot tell you how many people I have met over the years who are avid knitting and crochet enthusiasts and work/study in maths and science based careers.
So, as a parent where do you start? It is easy.
2-4 years - Yarn threading. This one I put together myself but if you check out craft, education and toy shops you will probably find something similar.
5 years plus - Knitting with needles or crochet hooks. Now this one can be difficult if you don't have the knitting/ crochet skills to teach your child. There are some great websites and videos online. Have look and see what link works well for you.
If you are unable to do the teaching yourself try finding someone to help from a knitting group or see if your school has knitting program or a teacher who is prepared to share their skills.