If you’ve ever tried to teach a child to crochet you know it’s hard.
When they first spot you crocheting they’re curious about what you’re doing, what you’re going to make, what you will do with it, how long it will take, how… Young kids always come with many questions (well, either that or reserved, inquisitive silence). Some will even ask if they can try. And that’s great! Or at least it would be great if they had dexterity.
Children under the age of seven that show interest in learning to crochet should absolutely be encouraged. But in my experience (I teach crochet at Michael’s), it all gets a bit tricky when they try to hold a crochet hook. Simply put, at this age children haven’t had to coordinate both hands at the same time in the controlled manner that crochet demands. Crayons and markers aren’t typically two-handed instruments. So they struggle to yarn over, struggle to pull the yarn through the loop and have great difficulty getting stitches to look consistent. The little one gets frustrated and a large black mark discourages them from trying crochet again in future. Not good and preventable.
3 Tips for Teaching Young Children to Crochet
Tip 1: Ditch the Hook
If you know a young child that wants to crochet, who has shown interest in what you are doing “for hours on end”, take the crochet hook out of the equation entirely. While some kids may be able to coordinate both hands to chain or even single crochet, I highly recommend starting them without a hook to prevent initial frustration. Finger crochet is the way to go (instructions below). Scale them up to the hook only when and if they are ready.
Tip 2: Think Big
Don’t use crochet thread or light weight mohair. Choose yarn or nylon cording (think shoelaces) that is bulky in weight and has little texture (no nubs and slubs). You want to focus the child’s attention solely on their actions, not the fuzziness or texture of the fibre.
Tip 3: Aim for Simple Achievement
A crochet chain can be made entirely by hand and, with a few beads, a whistle or keychain, a necklace or lanyard can be made by the youngest of hands in a jiffy. Never underestimate the power of a completable project—something finished will bring smiles and satisfaction, something tried and failed will bring disappointment.
How to Finger Crochet a Chain
- Start by making a slip knot. My YouTube tutorial for one is here if you need a refresher.
- Pull the working yarn through the slip knot loop to make a new loop. The amount of yarn you pull through will determine the length of the chain stitch created.
- Repeat step 2 until the desired length is achieved. Pull the starting tail through the last loop, tighten and tie the two ends together to secure. Fasten off and trim ends.
Successful making some finger crochet chains? Turn them into a Stashbuster Necklace, one of my free patterns.
If you’ve got a tip for teaching crochet to young children, please add a comment below. The more crocheters, the merrier!
♥ Natalie of Nattypat Crochet
Comments & Questions from the Nattypat Community
Nattypat Crochet: Hi Fay! You could try a few things if you still want her to use the hook: 1) Try a larger hook, maybe even a 10/12mm, and some bulky yarn as that can sometimes be easier. 2) If that doesn’t work, try a different size again and look for a hook with an exaggerated hook to it as it will grab the yarn easier. 3) Hold her hands and physically guide her while you work stitches; sometimes this helps young ones (and us old folks) get the motions easier. Lastly, 4) To my astonishment, I once had a very young student who actually didn’t move her hook while making stitches but instead only moved the yarn with her fingers around the hook; she was a knitter so actively moving the yarn came more naturally to her. It’s an odd way of working, but if it’s dexterity that’s holding your little one back, this may show some positive results. Hope that helps!
Nattypat Crochet: Hi Athena! Aside from finger knitting, one of the best things you can do with young children to get them used to working with yarn and with yarn-related tools is French knitting, also known as corking. Using the inexpensive, French knitting tool (available at most large craft stores in the knitting/crochet section), they can quickly make knitted cords which can be turned into jewellery or rolled in a coil to make a hotplate or placemat with a little help from an adult.
With regards to working with the hook, I’ll add that if you pick a hook that has a large hook with a deep yarn-grabbing hook curve, it will make it easier. You can also try working with a 6-8mm hook with chunky yarn. I hope that helps!