Farming on a small farm is a family affair, which makes a homestead a great homeschool tool. Everybody participates to the best of their ability. It’s surprising, too, how much ability kids can have! One of the things that has kept us going all these years has been our kids. Why?
The farm is the ultimate training tool. When Mark was in the military, the people he found the most hard working, good natured, can-do, and good to work with were farm kids. He decied that was how he wanted to raise his kids and set about to develop the training ground (a.k.a. “farm”). We know that the good quality, high nutrient, fresh food we could feed them was good for their bodies and minds. The farm gave us lots of opportunities to teach them skills they might not otherwise learn:
Working together is a requirement. “And if you can work with but not kill your brother, you can work with anyone.” They learn to watch out for each other, to have fun while doing jobs together, to focus on achieving the mission rather than just doing their little portion of the task.
They have all been the oldest at one time or another, or the most experienced. Part of that privilege is getting to lead the crew. We actively train them to teach and to lead. “If you can manage your brother, you can manage anyone.” They’ve all heard it. The older ones have all listened to books about leadership such as “How to Make Friends and Influence People.” They also have to manage the work flow, especially in the shop, making sure all the processes are done well so no one is left with a bulk of work alone and a good end product goes out the door. We lead them by example and they lead each other as team leaders.
Nothing teaches someone how to build, construct, cook, and clean like having to use your own product. They’ve used power tools, hand tools, and welded. They’ve fixed equipment and vehicles. They’ve learned to read a recipe, handle sharp knives, and sweep a floor well. Even art skills and other creative design skills come in handy when designing signs and other things. Above all, they have skills and they have the ability to think through a problem and use their skills to achieve the solution. The best skill they have is “how to learn.”
4) Compassion and Caring
Schools have tried to incorporate “values” into the curriculum. Nothing teaches values like caring for animals, though. “I forgot” can result in sick animals, hungry animals that break out of fences, underperformance (no eggs or milk!), even dead animals. This is real life stuff. They get immediate feedback when they are kind and careful or fast and loud. Even as we butcher our animals, we work to make it stress free and to make full use of the animal’s gift of life. There is an ultimate reward: food. Animals are possibly one of the best values teachers we have on the farm.
5) Book learning
Homeschool homestead is a living, breathing field trip! We are constantly conducting experiments using physics, chemistry, and biology. We study anatomy and physiology when we butcher. We have them calculate how many birds we’re processing on a given Friday, and they always want to know how much money they’ll make, incorporating algebra in a really meaningful way. They get a percentage of what the shop makes since they are the labor force, so they have seasonal income, yearly expenses, and learn budgeting. The shop teaches them customer service skills in everything from talking to customers on the phone, to billing, to taking birds in and deliverying them back out. They even field the rare unhappy customer. Food and history weave together as we work with a lot of “old fashioned” processes in making our food and designing our diet. Social studies have even played in as we have heritage animals that have brought many foreign folks to our door. Health class is a given. We do our share of bookwork, but keeping the learning practical and living is one of the perks of homeschooling on the homestead.
Kids and farms go together. Homeschool happens whether you send your kids off for the book learning or not, but if you choose to do it all at home, the possibilities are endless!