Feb 29 , 2016

It’s Elementary: Teaching Kids to DIY

When a pipe leaks or a door sticks, some people grab their toolbox. Others grab their phone and call a pro. For that second type of person, home ownership is frustrating and expensive. And I don’t want my daughter to become one of them. So whenever there’s a fix-it job around our house, I get her involved. With her “help,” jobs take twice as long, and I know her 7-year-old brain probably won’t retain the how-to information.

Teaching kids to DIY
Start some screws in a scrap of drywall and let the kids screw them in with a screwdriver or a kid-size cordless screwdriver.

But teaching her exactly how to do things isn’t my goal. What I want her to learn is this: DIY isn’t just expertise and experience. It’s 90 percent attitude, a willingness to give it a try and figure it out. With a little guidance—from sources like this web site—you can fix almost anything. That’s the lesson.

She doesn’t know she’s getting a lesson, of course. She just thinks it’s big fun. Here’s some of the fun we’ve had:

Snaking out a plugged toilet. A dreaded job for most of us, but she loved it (see drawing) and is looking forward to the next plug-up.

Soldering copper pipe. Some lessons, like letting a 7-year-old handle a torch, can only take place when Mommy isn’t home.

– A simple plywood box with a hinged lid, hasp and padlock. I cut the parts; she screwed them together. It’s crude and ugly, but she thinks it’s high art and loves locking up her treasures.

Changing car oil. Spills, greasy hand prints, lots of cleanup. We will not be trying this one again for a few years.

A kid's-eye view of snaking a toilet
To unplug a clogged toilet, feed the snake into the trap while cranking the handle. A helper makes the job slower and messier, but more fun.

More DIY tips and projects to do with kids:

DIY tips for kids

A bookcase you can build with a junior helper

How to Fix a Clogged Toilet

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