This section is from the book "School Needlework. A Course of Study in Sewing designed for use in Schools", by Olive C. Hapgood. Also available from Amazon: School Needlework: A Course Of Study In Sewing Designed For Use In Schools.
In beginning with a class of young pupils, close attention should be given to the details, or the bright, intelligent pupil alone will comprehend. In an average class, one-fourth are quick to learn, one-half are of average ability, and the remaining fourth may be called dull. A teacher should not judge the proficiency of the class by either extreme. The best work does not always represent the greatest effort. Poor work may be excusable in some cases, especially from pupils who have come from homes of ignorance and poverty.
The spirit of the pupils depend greatly upon the disposition of the teacher. A smiling, face will often accomplish more than severe words. Commendation for worthy efforts helps the pupils wonderfully, and care should be taken not to discourage the dull pupils.
Experience teaches that a child, when working on a real object of use, not only does better work, but gets more good from it, through the arousing of interest and the developing of self-respect, than when simply practising stitches. The principle of working with a definite aim is important, though trial-pieces are necessary at first, for a child should not be allowed to spoil a garment, or think that poor sewing will do if only the garment can be put together. An incentive to the child to do her best on the trial-piece, is the knowledge that she may apply the acquired skill to some useful article. The child should not be discouraged by being required to practise longer than is necessary. After she has done as well as she is able, allow her to bring from home an unmade garment requiring the necessary stitches. The pupils may be stimulated in stitching, by the promise that they may outline their names or some design on cloth. As a reward for good work, the pupils may be allowed to dress dolls, or have their work mounted and labelled for exhibition. Pupils will often learn readily from a companion, and those who first learn the stitches may be permitted to aid the others, and also to show their work, if done nicely, to the class.