The right sewing machine is essential for your child to have a good experience with sewing. A machine that jams frequently or doesn't function properly can turn your child away from sewing quicker than a seagull can snatch a fry. Trust me, you don't want to venture into that territory. Here are the do's and don'ts of selecting the right sewing machine.
DO make sure to use a full size machine.
DO keep the user manual handy and refer to it with questions.
DO use the right needle for the project and change it often.
DO have extra bobbins on hand.
DO get it serviced regularly, especially if it's "acting up."
DO make sure the machine works before having your child use it.
DO learn how to thread the machine, both the top thread and the bobbin. (check the manual)
If you have the option:
DO select a machine with speed control, especially if your kids are under 14. You'll thank me!
DO select a machine with a needle guard. Janome is what I personally recommend and use.
DO select a machine with a drop-in bobbin.
DO NOT use a toy machine.
DO NOT use a toy machine. (Did I mention this already? It's THAT important!)
DO NOT think you have to spend thousands or hundreds on a machine. There are many machines out there around the $150 range that will work beautifully. If you want a decent machine, you will need to spend around this much. Depending on your budget, plan to spend anywhere from $150 - $350 for a new machine. Bonus if you are able to get a good machine for cheaper. Double bonus if your mother in law gives you her nice machine for FREE!
Here are a few machines that I recommend. I am not an affiliate for these products...I gain zippo by recommending them, I just happen to really like these machines/products.
Brother CS600i (this is the most popular among my sewing students)
Finger Guard (Total LIFESAVER)