Teaching your kids how to use tools can be a great bonding experience. Here are 11 tools you should teach your kids how to use.
As a parent, owning a home means giving your kids a stable place to grow up, but it also means teaching them responsibility. As a homeowner, you’re responsible for repairing, improving and maintaining your property, and someday, your kids will be responsible for taking care of their own homes. You can give them a head start by teaching them about tool use and safety at a young age. Help your kids learn to use tools by giving them a kids tool set and encouraging them to help you with home improvement jobs, or even allowing them to tackle their own projects as they get older. Not sure where to start? Here are some of the tools every kid should learn how to use.
A cordless drill is one of the safer power tools, so it can be the first one in your child’s tool box. Clip the heads off some finish nails and use them instead of bits while your kid practices -- that way you don’t have to go through a bunch of broken bits.
A tape measure can be suitable for a younger child, as long as they’ve mastered basic math skills. Kids enjoy stretching out tape measures and reeling them back up, and they can use this tool to explore their space by measuring rooms and pieces of furniture. Once your child is familiar with the tool, you can teach them to measure twice and cut once.
A couple of generations ago, kids looked forward to getting their first pocket knife. A small pocket knife, such as the classic Barlow knife, can be one of your kid’s first tools. A child aged nine or ten should be old enough to learn to handle one safely.
A chunk of wood and a sharp whittling knife can be all it takes to spark a lifelong interest in carpentry or outdoorsmanship in your child. Start by teaching your child to hold the knife safely and cut away from themselves. Once your child learns to hold the knife and wood safely, he or she can experiment with paring, pulling the knife towards themselves. Later, add a utility knife with a retractable blade to your kid’s tool set, and teach him or her to change the blade.
Once your kid has mastered the pocket knife, he or she can move on to the hand saw. Kids can easily get frustrated learning to use a hand saw, so teach them the right cutting technique from the start. Make sure the saw is sharp, and give your kid a child-sized sawhorse to work at.
You might not think of hammering in a nail as a skill, but it is one — and it’s one that any kid aged seven or older can learn. Give your kid a child-sized claw hammer and start some nails in a block of wood so he or she can practice their hammering technique. Once your child has some level of comfort with the hammer, you can move on to a block with pre-drilled guide holes and finally to one with no holes.
Your child is old enough to handle needle nose pliers once he or she has mastered the use of scissors — so, about eight years old. Give them a child-sized pair with rubberized handles and a spool of copper wire to practice on. They’ll be cutting, stripping, twisting, tightening and crimping in no time.
Power tools are definitely best left for older children, especially when there’s the potential for them to sever something. Teach your teenage child about power tool safety and supervise them as they learn to use a jigsaw to cut curvy shapes out of wood, plastic or metal. Your child will gain familiarity with this versatile tool, and they might learn a thing or two about working within a tool’s limitations.
Most parents aren’t comfortable giving their kid a heavy-duty power tool like a circular saw until they’re about 15 or so, but kids’ comfort and skill levels with tools can vary. Even young children can sometimes be responsible and capable enough to handle these kinds of tools. It’s really up to you to decide if your child is ready to use a circular saw, but if you think they are, make sure they’re supervised while using it and impress upon them the importance of using such a dangerous tool safely.
Kids in their late teens are old enough to start using a chainsaw, but make sure to supervise them with it for at least a year so they can properly learn how to use one safely. It’s not a bad idea to get some advice on safe chainsaw use from an experienced arborist, so your child doesn’t risk injury and doesn’t learn bad safety habits.Kids might think using the chainsaw is cool and it could work to your advantage. You can ask them to prepare fire wood or clear a fallen tree from the property, under supervision of course.
Electronics might be more complex than they used to be, but the basics of how they work are still pretty much the same — and learning to use a soldering iron can help your child discover a passion for building and repairing electronics that could pay off later. Help your pre-teen learn to use a soldering iron, and he or she could soon be bringing home a blue ribbon from the middle school science fair.
Ladders can be dangerous no matter how old you are, so make sure you supervise your tween as he or she learns to safely set up a ladder and climb it. The top of the ladder should extend at least three feet beyond what you’ve learned it against, and you should be able to reach out and place your palms on the rung at shoulder height. The ladder should always be stable on a flat surface, and it’s best if there’s someone there to hold it for you while you climb it.
Your kids might be young right now, but someday you’ll be working on home improvement projects together — and that day might come sooner than you think. Put together an age-appropriate tool kit for your kids, and check our Home Matters blog for kid-friendly DIY projects you can all do together.
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