Today, kids can learn to sew on sewing machines that are specially made for kids. These machines are simple in their appearance and functions. They also are easy to thread with a foot pedal that depresses easily. And of course they are made to withstand the wear and tear that kids tend to inflict on, oh, everything.
There's a very nice-looking line of sewing machines for kids featuring Hello Kitty designs. Click here for more info. The page I've linked to is part of the Best Sewing Machines for Kids site, which is a good all-around resource on kids and sewing. The site includes detailed reviews of four different Hello Kitty kids' sewing machines made by a company called Janome. The different models are designed with kids of different ages in mind. Prices start just under $100.
I was always a bit intimidated by sewing machines as a kid. I have to wonder if I'd be more into sewing today if I'd gotten started with a kid-friendly machine myself!