Tools To Teach Your Kids

I was useless. When I was first married, my wife asked me to fix something around the house – and I was terrified to do so. Not only did I not know what to do – I didn’t even know which tool to use. I vowed that my kids would not grow up this way.

Photo by Alan Viau
My youngest son learning to hammer a nail. Photo by Alan Viau

My Dad is not a handyman. Not that he is not smart – he just didn’t know how to use tools. Luckily, if any work needed to be done around our house, my uncles had the know how. As a result I never got to use tools when I grew up.

Then came the day when I was newly married and my wife asked me to fix something. I was terrified because I didn’t know what to do. With some (lots) of cajoling and the threat of getting an expert in – my pride buckled and I attempted the fix. A small success. For our first Christmas that year, she gave me a Sears power drill – my first power tool ever!

With more projects and more fixes, I gained experience. I took Finishing Carpentry workshops at the local college to learn even more. Now with 32 years of experience, and with my wife’s encouragement, I have the confidence to tackle most anything.

Along the way I made sure that each of my kids were there with me – learning how to use tools so that they would not have to go through what I did. Maybe it took longer to complete the project – but they learned how to properly use tools. When each one of them left home, I gave them a small tool kit to help them on their way.

What are the tools that all kids should learn. I’ve come up with the essentials list.

Measuring: you can’t start a project with knowing how to measure things. Most carpentry is still done using the Imperial measurements of inches. Since children now are oriented towards the metric system – they will need to learn how to use fractions. Another important tool is the level – can’t hang pictures without one.

Screwdrivers: Each screwdriver is used for different functions. The Robinson head is uniquely Canadians. Which kind of screw to use is equally important.

Power Tools: the safe use of these is absolute mandatory. They need to learn how to use a power drill, circular saw, jigsaw, and sander.

Gardening Tools: At some point they’ll need to know how to use a rake, shovels, pruners and other garden and outdoor cultivating living tools.

Reading Instructions: Before getting to the level where they can build without a plan, they will need to assemble something. Knowing how to read assembly instructions is important. I embarrassingly put together a simple garden arch and had pieces left over – because I didn’t read the instructions properly. Why not have them assemble the next piece of furniture from Ikea? Or design and build a garden bench this summer?

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