When I teach a class of 'newbies' to crochet, I recommend that they practice. Practice, practice, practice. This will help in reinforcing the stitches and techniques learned in class, as well as help with tension issues. One day, while teaching at Knit Together, John, the store owner said, "They can do their million stitches now and become good at it quickly, or do the million stitches later, over a long length of time to become good at it eventually." Meaning it's up to the person to decide on when they become good at it. (secretly, I think it was a major hint to my lack of practicing my knitting. LOL)
On the road to practicing, I recommend that my students consider crocheting a scarf to donate to a worthy cause, or even 6" X 9" squares to donate to the Warm Up America campaign. Since the items don't need to be exactly perfect, it's a win-win situation. The student gets the well needed practice, and someone in need benefits from the donation.
While visiting the Craft Yarn Council of America's website, I found that a lady near "my neck of the woods" has been doing just that with a group of Elementary School Children. Check it out: Waterbury, CT: Crosby High School Knitters