My wonderful handwork teacher Judy Forster noted to me the other day that the control and sharpness of the needle for dry needle felting are challenges that are just right for the physical and emotional changes that occur in middle school (typically 7th and 8th grade).
From my observations of the development of the child at different ages, I agree with her. I also think there are many, many projects one can be busy with, so why be in such a rush to get to that rather hardening gesture? This is an important point for Waldorf homeschooling parents who may be guiding their children’s handwork program without having a Waldorf-trained handwork teacher to assist them!
Wet felting is a wonderful alternative, and children in the grades can knit, crochet, macrame, cross stitch (fourth grade, age 10), sew (typically grades six and seven for projects) and do many other types of work with their hands.
If you have small children under the age of 7, I like to think about color and freedom. The small child should be able to choose colors and materials and turn them into whatever suits the child’s fancy of the moment, whether that be a ghost or an elephant. They may imitate you, but often they are just a wellspring of creativity. I remember I had one good friend whose little boy made a whole bunch of creatures and critters from sheets of felt when he was around four or five. The colors and shapes and what they were called were all his and he loved them.
Even in older children, seeing what colors the children pick and what they want to make is fascinating. My Third Grader is currently drawn to blues and greens and I feel this is meeting her temperamental traits and where she is. Color and form is fascinating!
If you need help determining what project comes when within the Waldorf curriculum,, please look at this back post that Ms. Judy Forster was so kind to write for this blog: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/28/handwork/
Many blessings to you all,