Growing the Perfect Crop
Farming and homeschooling are the perfect crop. Let me ask you some questions.
Do you desire to homeschool your children, but think it is impossible because you are too busy farming? I understand. Farming is a tough job and it can feel like you are busy all the time.
Do you wish your children could stay home on the farm and receive an outstanding education? Your wish can come true. Children can receive an outstanding education while living on a farm.
Do you want to teach your children, but you don’t think you are qualified? It is easy to feel inadequate as a parent and their teacher, but I am here to tell you that you are the most qualified person to teach your children because you love them like no one else.
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, please keep reading. I am here to encourage you that farming and homeschooling are a perfect crop to raise hardworking, productive, well-educated children.
It is possible to homeschool your children, even with busy farm life.
As busy as farm life can be, you can make time to homeschool your children.
Your children can stay home and receive an outstanding education.
You are the MOST qualified person to teach your children.
There are so many benefits to homeschooling your children on the farm and today I am going to outline five of those benefits.
Homeschooling and farming go hand in hand because you can:
- Develop a flexible schedule.
- Incorporate learning opportunities around the farm.
- Customize the curriculum to meet your child’s educational and learning needs.
- Develop closer family relationships.
- Teach your morals, values, and beliefs to your children.
My husband and I decided we would homeschool before we even had any children. To be honest, it really has nothing to do with the fact that we farmed. We wanted our children to have a quality, Christian education. Since Bible reading and prayer have long since been removed from public schools, we knew that was not an option. We would have considered a Christian school, but due to the small, rural area we live in, there are no Christian schools. Therefore, we chose homeschooling. I am so glad we did. We have been homeschooling since the beginning and we are now in our ninth year of homeschooling.
I recently went out to lunch with a friend who told me she desired to homeschool her son but thought it is impossible because she and her husband are too busy on the farm. I will admit, she is a busy farmer, but I believe you are never too busy to homeschool your children.
1. Flexible schedule
Most likely, you attended public school and learned that school happens during the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m; Monday through Friday, from September through May. This is simply a framework due to the nature of gathering many children together for a centralized purpose of education. When you homeschool, you are free to choose the hours and days of when you educate. If evening education is more logical, then, homeschool in the evening.
Here are just a few other scheduling considerations:
- School work can be scheduled around chores.
- Children can complete more school can be done in long, cold winter days and less school during planting and harvest seasons.
- Factor out the commute time to public school. Your child does not need to travel to and from school. There is no more catching the bus.
Pro tip: As flexible as homeschooling is, it is important to find a schedule that fits into your life and try to stick to it. Homeschool is one of the top priorities in the schedule and does not put it off to “when we get around to it”. Children thrive on schedules. Be sure to schedule schooling hours and adjust as the seasons change.
2. Incorporate learning opportunities around the farm
There are so many important learning opportunities outside the classroom and textbooks. The learning opportunities on the farm are endless.
Here are a few of the farming lessons that we incorporate into our homeschool.
Biology– we have learned the life cycle of many mammals and birds. My children have learned the gestation cycle of a cow and used mathematics to calculate calving dates. They have learned the gestation of chicken, turkey, and duck eggs and calculated hatching dates. They have watched many cows give birth and hens hatch chicks. This has taught them about how mammals and birds differ in producing and raising young.
Butchering animals become a lesson in dissecting. We have studied the internal organs of the chicken and how the chicken’s digestion system is different from a mammal’s. We have identified the different organs in a chicken and how food travels through these organs. They also learned which organs can be eaten and how to properly prepare a chicken for consumption.
Nature study of wild animals who live on the farm. We have an entertaining bird called a killdeer living in our pastures. We have studied their behavior, nests, chicks. The killdeer has an interesting defense mechanism of pretending to have a broken wing to lure predators away from their young. It is comical to watch. These birds are also migratory birds and we watch when they leave in the fall and when they return in the spring. This is also a lesson in math and calculating dates.
There are many opportunities to develop problem-solving on the farm. Recently, we brainstormed and researched how do we prevent raccoons from killing our chickens. We decided to purchase a guard dog and that gave us a whole new learning opportunity of how to care for and train a puppy.
Gardening also has many learning opportunities including: planning, calculating when to plant, planting, weeding, harvesting, testing soil and the chemistry of soil composition. In addition, problem-solving how to eradicate garden pests such as bugs and rabbits.
Raising animals has taught my children many lessons including research skills, responsibility, math with measuring feed, reading and following directions, marketing, and selling skills. You can read more about how we raise bottle calves here.
There are many other lessons too numerous to list, but here are just a few: cooking, canning, operating machinery properly, mechanic skills, building skills including: planning, measuring, using hand tools.
3. Curriculum freedom
Homeschooling has grown in popularity over the past 25 years. The curriculum choices have become too numerous to count. It can almost be overwhelming.
I started researching homeschooling when I was pregnant with my first child. I was so excited to homeschool my children and I wanted to be ready. When I started homeschooling, my first son was three years old. A friend of mine was using a boxed curriculum from a big publisher. She offered me all the teacher manuals when she finished using them. For three years, I really tried to make the curriculum work, but you see, the curriculum was written for the classroom and I had four younger children and it just wasn’t working.
I floundered for a couple of years. I did a piece-meal curriculum, but I was noticing many gaps in my children’s learning. Something had to change. I saw an advertisement in a Christian newspaper for Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). I had heard of this curriculum in the past, but for some reason, it had a bad reputation on many curriculum review sights. However, then I came across a website called, https://pacesuccess.net. This is a website by an ACE school supervisor. He posts many articles and helpful information about ACE.
An article about using ACE to teach children with dyslexia interested me. One of my children really struggled with reading and I suspected he had dyslexia. I hesitated to try ACE because I knew that is was self-directed which meant a lot of reading. This article set my mind at ease.
There were many things that drew me to ACE like the comprehensive, building block education, diagnostic testing to determine placement for each child, colorful, well laid out workbooks (PACES), no common core alignment, Bible verses and character traits in every PACE.
I decided to give my children the diagnostic tests for Math because that was the subject I saw the most gaps. All three of my older boys tested about the same. I decided to order the same PACES for them and give it a try.
The results were amazing. My boys enjoyed the cartoon stories in the PACE about the students of Highland Christian School. The PACES systematically taught math concepts in an easy to understand way. My kids, however, didn’t like all the math exercises and repetition of the skills, but they have gotten accustomed to that over time.
I was so impressed with the curriculum that I had my children take diagnostic tests for the other areas and ordered PACES for all subjects. We have now been using ACE for every subject for more than three years.
There are a few drawbacks of ACE because, of course, no curriculum is perfect. They are consumable and somewhat outdated as far as technology.
The PACES are not reusable, which is too bad, especially when you have multiple children like I do, I must buy new PACES for each child. Thankfully the PACES are inexpensive. One PACE costs around three dollars. There are six subjects, plus Bible PACES. There are twelve PACES per subject. That works out to about $215-$250 per child per year. That is pretty reasonable. It may even be less expensive than sending your child to public school when you figure in clothing and supply costs associated with public school.
The curriculum isn’t updated very often. Some of the PACES are outdated as far as technological advances being presented. It really doesn’t make a difference in the education. I just teach my children how to research using the internet and how to send an email separately. However, I just saw that ACE will be offering one subject online in the near future.
If you are wondering where to purchase ACE curriculum, I have found the best place is a small company called Curriculum Express. They offer free shipping on orders over $45, run specials throughout the year, and they have excellent customer service. Once, I accidentally chose overnight shipping that would have cost me an additional $75! They called me to double check if I wanted to pay the extra shipping. Now that is good customer service!
4. Develop closer family relationships
Homeschool develops strong family bonds. With homeschooling, you spend almost all the time with your children. This is good character development for both children and parents. Learning to get along and work out differences, working together on school and farm projects, worshipping and praying together builds strong family relationships. There is no one I would rather be with than my family. Of course, there are times I need a break, but usually, I miss them terribly when I am away and wish I was with them instead.
5. Teach your morals, values and beliefs to your children
Finally, homeschooling allows you to teach your children the values that are most important to you. You can use a curriculum that supports the values that you would like to teach your children.
That is another thing that I love about ACE. As I mentioned before, each PACE has a specific character trait as the theme. There is a definition of the character trait, a Bible verse to memorize about the character trait and cartoon stories throughout the PACE. The cartoons give real-life examples of how children can apply the character trait in their own lives.
Farming and Homeschooling is a wonderful way to educate children. Homeschooling offers a flexible schedule, out of the classroom learning opportunities, curriculum freedom, family togetherness, and moral teachings. If you are not homeschooling your children on the farm, I hope you reconsider, given all the benefits. Are you convinced yet? If not, please tell me your biggest obstacle holding you back in the comment section below.
If you are homeschooling on or off the farm, tell me your favorite thing about homeschooling in the comments.