There is always something to be done around the homestead, and sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day for The Parents (aka The Working Parents) to get it all done! Ever since our girls were little and we began to homeschool, I have always also worked part-time (and for a few years full-time.) Talk about needing some extra hands to help out!
1. Start Early
As soon as the girls were old enough to use them, we bought them their own tools: hoes, rakes, gloves, hammers, nails, drills, screws, paintbrushes, paint and small pieces of wood. They created at will, and what they made was often times messy, but always awesome. Since we involved our girls in most everything we did around the homestead, they watched and learned. Even when we thought they weren’t watching, they were; and not only were they watching, they were remembering.
2. Let It Happen Naturally
It is in the nature of children to want to imitate. Any time our girls would ask, “can we try?” our answer was almost always yes. Sometimes the answer was a modified yes, but a yes nonetheless. Letting kids help out, even if they don’t “do it right” or make a bigger mess for you to clean up afterward is meaningful. Imitation equals learning, and some day (soon) they’ll get it just right.
3. Set Goals Together
When working with little ones around the homestead, it’s a good idea to show them things that they will be able to do “one day”. When that day finally comes, they will be so proud of themselves. What an accomplishment it is for a young child to finally do something they’ve been wishing to do for so long!
4. Make It An Awesome Experience
I think one thing we did ever since the girls were very small, was to show them how doing chores could actually be fun. As homeschoolers, everything we did in the early years was fun, whether it was schoolwork, chores on the homestead, or cleaning up around the house. We still try to keep that fun in our homeschool but, well; can you say pre-algebra? Sorry, this post is not about pre-algebra, it’s about the homesteading, homeschooling lifestyle, and how we got our girls to join in the dirty work. Modeling is important for learning, and as parents, if we model behavior that we’d like to see imitated, it works! I can’t say that we modeled loving playing with worms from the worm compost, but, my girls did!
What’s better than choosing and raising your own baby chicks? Building them a coop! We have always let our girls pick out our new chicks, and they have always been responsible for their care. Before we got our first batch many years ago, the girls helped build our first chicken coop. They were very young then, three and four years old I think, but they really jumped in there and got involved.
5. Share With Others
When you work hard with the focus on doing things that can ultimately help others, the work doesn’t seem so bad. We have always tried to share the fruits of our labor with friends and neighbors. Kids who work hard to produce something, whether it be a harvest from their gardening, a dozen eggs from their well-cared-for hens, or jam made after a day of picking berries in the hot sun, will always feel a sense of accomplishment after sharing these things with others.
Their is a buzzphrase among educators that goes something like this, “find every opportunity to allow kids to take ownership of their own learning.” This applies not only to academic learning, but also to “life learning.” Being a part of things from start, to finish, and then sharing these fruits of labor with others, certainly gives kids a sense of ownership, pride and love for others.
We’d love to see pictures of what your homeschool looks like, and/or pictures of your kids on the homestead! Tell us in the comments what kinds of chores your kids like or don’t like doing!