In a Waldorf first grade, children learn how to finger-crochet and then move on to basic knitting. Children make projects that are meaningful to them, and the projects and stories still hold a bit of early childhood. I found a list from our school's former handwork teacher and thought it would make a good first post for this blog. I added to and edited it a bit.
What is handwork doing for the first grade child?
-Gradually bringing the child into day consciousness...slowly bringing the child out of the dreamy world of early childhood.
-Awakens thinking and the capacity to judge.
-Moves the child from play to work
-The rhythmic activity of knitting builds the etheric capacities of the child
-Develops patience and perseverance since a knitting project takes time
-Awakens feelings through working with color and the very act of creating
-Makes a connection between mankind and nature. Materials used are from the earth, and gratitude and reverence for the earth's gifts are inherently appreciated.
-Balances the child in the sense that it strengthens forces that are weak (Strengthens thinking in the dreamy child, feeling in the overly intellectual child, and stimulates activity in the weak-willed child)
-Great practice in problem-solving. Students have to notice mistakes, keep count of their stitches, and focus while knitting.
-Social development: students admire each others' work, celebrate each others' accomplishments, help each other, and give handmade gifts.
-Builds the capacity to concentrate and focus.
-Builds self-regulation. Students may become frustrated with themselves or where they are in a project and learn how to ask for help, figure it out themselves, or how to wait for help.
-Making something useful and beautiful
-Encouraging a sense of reverence and wonder