Ever since my daughter who is now 5, was old enough to hold something in her hand, I have been anxious to teach her to crochet. The first thing I did when she showed an interest in crochet, was try to teach her how to make a chain using a hook. She found it awkward, and there were just too many things to learn at once; especially how to hold the yarn, control tension and maneuver the hook. So we gave up for a while. Then, one day we were at a restaurant and our food was taking a long time to come and I needed something to keep her mind off being hungry. I happened to have a ball of yarn in my purse, but no hook. So I taught her to make a chain with her fingers. She found it quite easy and fun to do, and from that day on, she always wanted me to have yarn with me in case she wanted to crochet. She even took balls of yarn to school to teach her friends!
This weekend, she was interested in trying to crochet with a hook again. I had the idea to crochet a large mesh fabric; [double crochet, chain 1, skip 1] repeat, with chunky yarn, and have her do surface crochet by inserting the hook into a chain space and bringing it back up in another, wrapping yarn around the hook and pulling it through work and the loop on the hook. That way, she would have the freedom to put the hook anywhere she wants, thus removing one of the obstacles we had the last time we tried with a hook. She really enjoyed it, and felt like she was making progress by using a hook.
I was very impressed how she held the yarn and hook. It seemed to help that she didn't have to focus on how she was holding it.
She was quite proud of her work, and kept holding it up to see how it was looking. After a while, she decided she just wanted to make a chain and not work into the mesh. She still has to use her fingers to pull the loops off the hook, but at least she is more comfortable holding the hook now. We discovered that it was also easier to make a chain, because the end was anchored to the mesh and it was one less thing for her to hold onto.
All in all I think it was a successful lesson, and I would recommend using this method for teaching a young child. I think crocheting into the mesh has many possibilities, and I am going to encourage her to use different color yarns and work in rows to give a woven effect- or just doodle with the hook! When she is ready for another lesson, we will work on getting the loops off the hook by turning the hook instead of pulling them off with her fingers. If anyone has any tips for teaching a young child to crochet, I would love to hear them!