Kids and farming (even if it’s a little hobby farm) do go together.
It is incredibly rewarding for the little farmer, while also being a great way to teach valuable life skills and teach them about who God is, and what he is capable of. Farming can also be used to give kids a hands-on education when it comes to teaching math skills, scientific concepts, health, and nutrition.
Yes, the benefits are obvious—to parents. But sometimes it takes a bit of effort to get the kids on board. Oh, they’re almost always willing to get started, but it’s the ‘staying with it’ that trips them up. When chores become too chore-ish instead of fun, things can get…
Let’s not talk about that. Instead, let’s take a look at some tried and true methods parent-farmers have used to keep their kids focused and on task.
Rules for successful farming for kids
Start small and make sure your kids have a say in what type of farming projects they take on. For example, if they really don’t like spending time in the garden, consider letting them raise chickens for egg production, feed out a steer to supply meat for your family. If animals aren’t their interest, how about a beehive or two, choosing a crop that is not as labor-intensive such as sunflowers for cut flowers, or birdseed and strawberries.
Even if, like me, farming is part of your family’s livelihood, still consider giving your kids the option to start their own small-scale venture if they want to.
Viewing their little mini farm as a job will allow them to receive the benefit of training, instruction, supervision, and the proper tools and equipment for success. This includes teaching them about start-up costs, expenses and income, and profit and loss.
Help your kids succeed by providing opportunities to do so. Help them set up a booth at the farmer’s market. Advertise their products for sale on your social media. Allow them to spend time with other kids who are interested in agriculture by joining or starting a 4-H club or gardening/livestock group in your homeschool co-op.
Don’t micro-manage. Let them do the work and make the decisions. You only need to step in in the case of danger, disaster, or emergency. For example, if there is a health issue with the livestock, don’t leave your child to figure it out on their own. Or if a predator is causing chaos, help your child construct a safe place for their animals.
Praise and celebrate their success. Make sure criticism is constructive and leads toward positive change, and don’t come behind them cleaning up their messes or mistakes.
The invaluable life lessons farming has to offer
Now let’s look at the life lessons farming has to teach. Most of these lessons cannot bring the depth of understanding or appreciation and respect when taught anywhere else or by any other means than the farm.
Life and death are real, and we all experience both. Plants live and die. Some produce, while others don’t. Some livestock are born to be used for food. Some livestock are born but die because they are not viable. Most, however, live to fulfill its purpose to reproduce or supply other products. These are hard lessons, but ones that need to be taught.
Most of the time you get out of something what you put into it, and this is true of your child’s farming venture. They will gain or lose from the effort (or lack of it) they put into their project 0- these are important life lessons. These basic truths also teach children respect, patience, work ethic, appreciation for the hard work of others, and the value of money management.
There is a time for everything. If we plant too soon, the cold stunts the plants. If we plant too late, they are too tender to thrive in the hottest days of summer. If we breed our livestock at certain times, the nutritional value of the grass and forages aren’t what they should be, so milk production and growth rates for their babies are low.
The farmer has to invest money to make money. They cannot starve a profit out of their animals, one has to feed them to help them grow. They cannot always wait for rain to water the garden or else it might wither and produce nothing. The farmer has to invest in planting flowers and plants to provide bees with pollen. They have to have proper shelter and fencing to keep the animals and property safe.
See? Farming and kids DO go together, and how better to truly know that than hear from some kid-farmers themselves!…
“I cannot imagine growing up any other way than on the farm. I’m thankful every day that’s the life my parents gave us and that I can now do the same for my kids.”Jacob
“Me and my nanna love to work in the garden. I help her pick beans when I am at her house. And she lets me eat the little yellow tomatoes and strawberries I pick. She teaches me about how to be gentle with the plants and how to pick weeds instead of the good plants.”Esther
“When I was a kid, I hated pulling weeds in the garden. I think I would have eaten dirt to get out of it. But now I don’t mind it at all. I remember what my mom’s gardens always looked like and I want mine to look that way, too. Plus, now I know that the weeds steal from the plants, so I don’t let the weeds get the best of me.”Olivia
“Sometimes I think it might be nice to live in town so there would be other kids besides my sisters to play with. And it wouldn’t be a big deal to go to the store or take a vacation somewhere besides a fair to show my livestock. But when I go to a friend’s house to play and when I remember all the fun I have with the other 4-H kids, the awards I’ve won, and all the things I get to see and do at the fairs we go to, I am glad I’m a farm kid. I wouldn’t know how to be anyone or anything else.”Emma