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Thread: Raising Young Woodworkers

  1. #1

    Raising Young Woodworkers

    Well as you guys and girls know, I take 14 month old daughter, just about everywhere. Its really not to force her into liking woodworking, snowmobiling, forestry or logging, but as I love all those things, and love her, its only natural I guess to put the loves together when I can.

    Yesterday we had some time to spend together as her Mom was at work and I had the day off. I don't have a stressful life, but just taking a walk through the woods always makes me smile. So I grabbed Alyson, put her in her backpack and headed out through the woods.

    We had to stay on logging roads pretty much as she did not like getting tree branches in the face, but she was laughing when we first started out. In the two mile hike she never once fussed so I think she liked it. As we hiked I kept pointing stuff out, like different trees and stuff. The conversation went something like this:

    "Yeah that is a Hemlock tree. See the thick scaly bark, that is how you tell. Then that is a Yellow Birch, see how the bark can pull right off. Its very oily and can make paper, canoes, of start fires if need be.""

    I am sure it sounded downright crazy because I am having this conversation with an infant. But the thing is I do this all the time with her. I talk to her in technical terms and rarely give things cute, baby type names like saying "What a cute tree" or "Look at the itty-bitty tree." I just talk to her like she is an adult. "See the little Striped Maple Alyson, that's a saplin," then point it out.

    So I wondered what you thought. Do you think this is good, or bad, I mean teaching her meaningful conversation must be good, but in this day and age we are maturing our kids so quickly...I don't want to keep her from her childhood either?

    What about the conversations themselves, now I don't expect her to recite the difference between a white birch and yellow birch anytime soon, but do you think she will retain anything I say to her at this early age?

    And finally what about woodworking itself? Do you think she will grow to have an interest in the hobby as she was taken to so many woodworking related places at such a young age. (Museums, logging exhibits, woodworking stores, etc) I wonder because there is no doubt she is a Daddy's Girl, but she is all girl. A girlie, girl with the girlie cry and the girlie looks and the girlie way of wanting to always stay clean.

    Now don't get me wrong, I am not forcing Alyson to do anything here. I am just wondering how all this woodworking related stuff at such a young age will affect her.

    (In case you missed my other post, here are the pictures from that forestry walk yesterday..

    Alyson Hike 10-04-07

    Last edited by Travis Johnson; 10-06-2007 at 10:50 AM.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Travis, it doesn't matter if it's woodworking, hiking or whatever. Being there for her and doing things together is what matters. You are on a great journey with that young one. I have a piece of advice I give young parents. But, unfortunately, they don't understand it's importance. I always say, with regards to raising children, "Don't blink". Meaning the years pass so incredibly quickly that if you haven't focused on the child(ren) and made a conscious effort to enjoy them while you have them, graduation day will be 'tomorrow' and you will wonder what happened in the preceding 17 years that was 'yesterday'. Do what you are doing now and don't stop.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    "Don't blink". Meaning the years pass so incredibly quickly
    Travis, Frank is giving sound advice. My daughter is almost 2 and a half and I spend as much time with her as possible. I have friends that spend their free time socializing and letting nannies "raise" there kids. I wonder if they know what they are missing. What you are doing is what being a parent is all about.

    I also agree with the way you talk to her. I started out talking to my daughter in the "kid" voice and felt I wasn't getting connected to her. Once I talked to her in a normal voice and normal words she responded better and it also helped her limited vocabulary I think also. Keep it up. I only wish I had quick access to such a beautiful area to walk with my daughter.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North West Indiana
    Well the "blink" that Frank talked of has happened in our home. Two daughters, one graduated HS last year, the second one graduates this year. I quit the Sheriff's Posse when daughter #1 started 4H. I told them then, I can always rejoin, but don't get a do over with my kids. This coming fair is number 10 for the second daughter. Time flies by, but we have had fun and many hours together raising hogs, breaking and showing cattle as well as riding horses together. Daughter number one provided grandson #1 this July. I think I talk sillier to him than I did to my own, but what the hey, Grandpas are supposed to be sillier than dads!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    travis, i speak to my son as i do to anybody, no goo-goo, ga-ga stuff. at 3 if he doesn`t understand something or a word i use he`ll ask for an explanation.
    the goo-goo stuff is for kids to talk to each other, that and `puter lingo
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central NY State

    I think you are spot on. Talk to her like she understands it all. She does, and what she doesn't now, she will.

    I couldn't get Ben interested in woodworking much. But at 16, he watched me turning and it lit something in him that has been going great ever since. And he has way surpassed me in turning. [Though not flat work.]

    You are doing the best thing you can for that beautiful little girl.


  7. #7
    Not lucky enough to have children myself but FWIW my own approach with youngsters of all ages is to avoid talking down whatever you do. Young brains are astute and as long as you make sure they know its OK to ask questions and that you are willing to rephrase things to help them understand, I think they key into that quickly.

    Will she be a woodworker. Who knows? The best thing that you can do is give her as many chances as you can to try as many things as she can. I think it was Yehudi Menuin that said that the best violin player that the world has ever known probably lived without ever playing a violin. If you never get the chance to try stuff you never know what you have a talent for.

  8. #8
    In a few years you'll be shocked at what she remembers from your conversations - I know our little man has remembered and comprehended a lot of what we talked about - and still does. I bet you will find her telling a friend "You can make canoes with that tree's bark."

    It is a great time - I know I cherish every moment. Well, almost every moment.


    PS Just because she's a girlie girl doesn't mean she can't know how to handle a chainsaw!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by Wes Bischel View Post

    PS Just because she's a girlie girl doesn't mean she can't know how to handle a chainsaw!
    now there`s one for the books!
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    WNY, Buffalo Area

    I think you are doing the right thing in exposing her to your interests. Hopefully this will create a foundation for her to spend time with you participating in your interests, in the future. I also agree with using the correct terminology in explaining things. Even if she doesn't understand it, at least she will be familar with some of the terms down the road.

    On my weekends (fridays and saturdays), the highlight of my son's day is if I invite him down to my shop. At 2 1/2, there isn't much he can do down there. I did just buy him a set of hearing protector ear muffs so the sounds in the shop don't hurt his ears, and so it doesn't scare him as much. Just my DC starting up made him burst into tears. With the hearing protectors on, he will happily sit on my work bench and watch me cut stuff at the table saw. A few weeks ago we built a little box together. I did all of the cuts, of course, but he "drilled" the pocket holes and drove the screws in. I set up the pocket hole jig and held the drill for him, while he squeezed the trigger. Same thing with putting the screws in. Its great, I can point to the pocket holes and ask him what they are, and he can answer. I can also ask him what kind of wood his box is made out of, and he says "pop-a-lar"! He was so proud of the box he made with me. Now he keeps his toy tools in it, along with some scraps of wood I gave him to play with.
    We create with our hands in wood what our mind sees in thought.
    Disclosure: Formerly was a part-time sales person & instructor at WoodCraft in Buffalo, NY.

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