13 May Why do our Nursery and Reception children have access to woodwork every day?
Since September 2017, children in our Nursery and Reception classes have had access to woodworking tools and wood every day.
The children love it and our tools are heavily used. They create amazing things too, but there is more to our approach than fun. This article explains why we have chosen to make woodwork a part of our every-day offer. Woodworking is a part of a bold and innovative approach to learning in the Early Years which is child-led, challenging and effective. Our children make great progress! In fact, Hanover is beginning to be recognised for this nationally, and we have started to welcome teachers from other schools wanting to learn from our approach.
So. Why woodwork?
- Woodwork helps children learn to focus and concentrate.
Using tools on wood is, for most children, a new experience. We teach them how to use the tools safely, holding the nail still and looking carefully at what they’re doing. Experience will teach them that if they don’t focus when they’re hammering, they’ll end up with a sore thumb!
By choosing what to make, and selecting the right pieces of wood and other materials, children are motivated to see their project through to completion. This leads to deep-level thinking and problem-solving about how best join, build and complete their project. They will often spend a whole morning working on their constructions with immense concentration – it’s a fantastic introduction to the power of perseverance.
- It develops children’s confidence and self esteem
At first children – and parents! – can be a little apprehensive about using real woodwork tools. For most it is a new experience, and they may have been told previously not to touch tools. But children immediately feel valued when they are given the opportunity to work with real tools. They are empowered by the sense of responsibility, and of being respected and trusted.
As they learn how to hammer in nails, saw wood and use screwdrivers, they gain a great sense of achievement, and feel really proud of what they’ve accomplished.
- It develops maths and language
There are endless opportunities for numeracy and exploring shape, space and measure when working with wood. Many aspects of mathematics such as matching, classification, counting, measuring, comparison, shape, size, weight, balance need to be taken into consideration. Talking about their pieces, children have a real context for knowing and using two and three dimensional shape names.
By talking through what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, or how they’re going to fix something, children are having to communicate their ideas, and consider and respond to input from peers and adults.
- It develops their creativity
Woodwork provides a new and challenging medium in which children can express their creativity and imagination. Initial emphasis is on developing skills, but this immediately extends into open-ended creative explorations. It is important that the adults do not do set projects whereby all the children create the same object – the children learn that their ideas, combined with their developing skills and their flexible thinking (‘I’ll use glue for this bit, and a nail for that bit’) lead to satisfying outcomes – their very own model, special and unique to them. Woodwork provides a wonderful way to support open-ended learning and self-initiated enquiry.
- It’s good for children’s physical development
Woodwork provides many opportunities for physical development as the children learn to handle tools with increasing control. There are fine motor skills (holding a nail, screwing) and gross motor skills (hammering, sawing); some movements involve pushing/pulling (saw) and others are rotational (screwdriver, wrench). Hand-eye coordination is developed, for example whilst hammering. One-handed tools (screwdriver, wrench) and two handed tools (hand drill) help children develop co-ordination.
Woodwork also provides children with an opportunity to experience risk in a controlled way, allowing them to make judgements and naturally self-assess the level of risk.