By Leigh Marcos
The growing new trend of millennials attending “adulting” classes across the country to learn basic skills such as cooking, sewing, and budgeting perhaps points to an alarming gap in modern education. Of course, one of the advantages of homeschooling is that you can shape your curriculum to your teen’s needs, and ensure they receive the skills they need in order to become well-rounded, fulfilled adults. Sewing, or any fabric-based craft, is one such skill as it offers so much more than how to stitch a cushion cover. Whether your teen is fascinated by creating costumes or is a budding homeware entrepreneur, teaching them to work with textiles is a wonderful gift.
An antidote to anxiety
The latest data shows that seven out of ten teens see anxiety and depression as major problems among their peers. The pressures of modern life are taking their toll on teenagers. Parents and educators need to offer them ways to switch off, refresh their minds, and find positive outlets for their energy. Creative crafts that keep one’s fingers busy have been shown to change the brain’s neurochemistry, making you feel happier. Whether it’s sewing, knitting, or fabric printing, work textiles into your lesson plan for a happier, calmer teenager.
Recent pediatric research has found that encouraging a growth mindset – praising effort and determination, not just overall outcome – can improve students’ performance and well-being. Teaching teens to be patient and persevere with a project instills the importance of not giving up, and imparts a sense of satisfaction that will come as they master the basics and move on to harder, ultimately more rewarding, projects. Document their progress with photos and samples of their work; as your teen looks back at their development from basic beginner projects to more intricate sewing designs, they should feel a real sense of achievement and pride at what they’ve created.
A sociable hobby
One of the real benefits of a quiet craft such as sewing, is the opportunity it presents to really talk and connect while your fingers are busy. For many parents or grandparents, this can be a precious window into your teen’s life. In a new study, nearly half of Americans reported feelings of loneliness; time spent together knitting or sewing could actually help you both to feel much better. It’s also a hobby that lends itself well to attending classes or workshops in your community, and meeting like-minded people.
A sustainable future
Teaching your teen how to work with textiles can also help to set them up for a more sustainable, productive adulthood. Consider the resourcefulness of the Proverbs 31 wife; she was productive and creative with “eager hands.” In the same way, your teen will come to appreciate being able to mend or alter their own clothes if needs be, or express their personality through touches they add to their clothing or homewares. Not only does this help them to be themselves, but it also equips them to live on a budget and not contribute to the enormous amount of clothing going to landfills.
A simple skill such as sewing can offer so many wonderful benefits to your teen. Working with their hands is a great way to calm anxiety and make them feel happier, as well as providing an opportunity for you to chat and discuss the day. It’s also a valuable lesson in patience and perseverance, as anyone who has dropped a stitch will admit! Finally, it sets your teen up for a productive, resourceful future, and perhaps even a career in textiles. What better reason do you need to reach for the sewing box?
What types of activities and courses have you used as electives? Leave a comment and we may include yours in a future column!