Woodwork provides another media through which children can express themselves. Creative and critical thinking skills are central both in terms of imagination and problem-solving as children make choices, find solutions, learn through trial and error and reflect on their work.
Children are drawn in as they explore possibilities, rise to challenges and find solutions. Woodwork is really unrivalled in terms of providing children with problem-solving opportunities and challenges.
Some children particularly flourish when working with wood, enjoying working three-dimensionally and working with their hands. It is hard to predict who will respond particularly positively as the skills are so different from those usually used in early years. The experience of woodwork can really be the key that unlocks some children’s learning.
Essentially woodwork is a ‘win-win’: children greatly enjoy it and remain engaged for extended periods and it provides a rich multitude of associated learning and development.
Providing useful skills for life
Children are surrounded by complex technology but this has limited their experience of basic technology, with fewer opportunities to watch and learn and to understand processes. Today many children may never use tools throughout their entire education and in recent years there has been a marked decline of woodwork in primary and secondary schools.
The confidence to work with tools provides a skill set for life. Many children will need practical skills for their future work and woodwork in the early years could well be children’s only experience of working with tools. Fortunately working with tools leaves a deep memory – so even if early childhood education is their only experience of working with wood it will leave a long-lasting impression. Many adults recount that experiencing woodwork as a child is one of the memories from early childhood that still really stands out.
Helping to develop flourishing imaginations
With woodwork, children can develop their learning at their own pace and find their own challenges. Once they have mastered basic skills, they move into open-ended exploration – tinkering, exploring possibilities and then making unique creations. Their imagination, creative thinking and problem-solving skills really flourish as they meet and conquer new challenges.
Some teachers and parents are surprised that we introduce woodwork to children as young as three, but it must be emphasised that it is a low-risk activity when introduced and monitored correctly. We have been successfully woodworking with pre-school children for many years with no significant incidents.
Woodwork is one of the most popular activities and incorporates so much learning. Let’s make the opportunity of woodwork available to all children!
About the author
Pete Moorhouse is passionate about encouraging creative thinking in Early Years Education. He has over 25 years’ experience working with schools and works regularly in Early Years settings as an artist in residence.
Pete is the leading authority on woodwork in Early Years education and has several journal articles and books published. Pete is an associate trainer for Early Education and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, currently researching Creativity and Critical Thinking in Early Years Education.
Find out more at http://irresistible-learning.co.uk/
CPD and INSET available from irresistible-learning.co.uk
(Advice on the best tools can also be found on this website in the resources tab)
Open training dates 2018:
Learning Through Woodwork: Creative woodwork in the Early Years (Routledge) by Pete Moorhouse, available from Amazon