|Counting nuts and bolts is fun!|
1). Counting practice - Almost any handyman-type job around the house utilizes counting skills. The gate had ten slats in it, and three sets of nuts, bolts, and washers per slat. For my three year old, I had her count out ten nuts, ten bolts, and ten washers. She did that for each run. Could I have done it more quickly and efficiently? Of course. But the point was not to be quick and efficient. The point was to engage my daughter in work, give her purpose in it, and ensure that she will be self-sufficient and able to take care of me when I am old.
For an older child, I would turn this into a multiplication lesson. If there are ten slats, and three bolts per slat, how many bolts would we need? It could also be a percentage problem (10 of 30 bolts complete. What percentage is that?), a subtraction problem (we needed 10 bolts, and we have already used 3. How many are left?). Or more advanced (If it requires 80 ft/lbs. of torque to keep a bolt in place, and you can only apply 40 ft/lbs. of torque because you refuse to eat your vegetables, how long does the pipe need to be that you put on the handle of your wrench to apply the proper amount of leverage to reach the required torque?). The point is to help them see that what they learn in school can be used in real life, thus answering the age old question, "When am I ever going to use this?"
|Socket wrenches - a lesson on torque|
3) Righty tighty, lefty loosey - I had my daughter tighten the bolt, and then loosen it. We talked about how the bolt has to turn one way in order for it to tighten and another way for it to loosen. Will she retain this? No. Not after one lesson. But the next time she works with me, I won't have to explain it as many times.
As a parenthetical story, when I was in high school, my family had a cappuccino machine. I was making a cappuccino, and the steam was leaking. I attempted to tighten the lid, and turned it the wrong way, sending a blast of steam up my chest, face and arms. My dad immediately commented, "Righty tighty, lefty loosy." My seven-year-old brother then added, "I don't knowy. It went blowy." Notice the total lack of sympathy here. Anyway, please do your children a favor and help keep them from blowing up a cappuccino machine by teaching them this saying.
|How many workers have a partner with tights like these!|
5) People are more important than things. Okay, there was no particular order to the first four, but this one is the most important by far. And it is something that I consistently try to teach my children. I don't always succeed at this. But I do want my children to know that the time I spend with them is more important than the task at hand. If it takes an extra 30 minutes to replace the fence, but I get to spend the time with my daughter, then of course the project is a success. When I engage my children in a project, my type-A, perfectionist side often shudders. I know that the paint will be sloppy, that the screws will be stripped, and that I may need to re-do half of it when they aren't looking. But their memories of these times with dad will last longer than the stupid gate anyway. And little by little my kids' skills will improve and they will actually be a help.
Their skills will improve, won't they?