Homesteading is a way of life for many families. Raising kids while homesteading is a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn valuable life lessons that they will take with them into adulthood. Truth be told, homesteading teaches children in more ways than you may realize! Below are 5 ways that show how that happens.
Children Learn Responsibility
When kids help collect eggs from the chicken coop, or water that new tree you planted, they are learning responsibility. They learn how to care for living things and understand the concept that you must continually care for what you have, in order for those things to prosper. Kids love being involved in chores on the homestead, especially the younger ones.
My 2-year-old grandson loved to use the small shovels to help dig holes for seeds and bulbs. He loved to use the hose to water the herb garden. He usually got wet in the process which made it all the more fun for him. The point is that even though he didn’t yet know it, he was learning responsibility.
Homesteading Teaches a Sense of Accomplishment
Have you ever seen the joy on a child’s face when those seeds that he or she planted first sprouts from the ground? Kids get a great sense of accomplishment when they see the results from a little work.
Make children a part of raising baby chicks and watch how excited they are when those hens lay their first egg! My grandsons would come down to my house and hold our baby chicks every day.
When they were old enough the boys took them and put them in the new coop that they helped me build. Every day the boys help me supply water and feed. Then, they were collecting eggs every day.
The boys have learned that there is a reward, a sense of accomplishment to their hard work. The best part of it is they were proud of how those baby chicks turned out!
Children Learn About the Simple Life
In this day and age, it’s all about video games and television. Kids seemed to have lost playing outside and imagination. Most kids think all food comes from the store but have no concept of where it originated or how.
I make the kids a big part of the food we grow and when we harvest it. I involve them in everything from planting seeds to watering to harvesting. The boys appreciated that the salad on the dinner table came from our own garden. The knew the eggs we eat and the chicken we had at dinner came from our own farm.
My daughter can feel good to know that when they are at grandmas house, she doesn’t have to worry about antibiotics in their food, or pesticides. The boys can pick snap peas, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, guava, berries, and grapes and eat them right off the plant.
My grandkids are always outside. They ride their bikes, they play with the dogs or the chickens. There is an airplane made out of an old tree that was cut down and too big for me to cut. They fly all over the world and then tell me about where they have been and what they saw.
The important part is that they are outside and using their imaginations. They chase dinosaurs in the woods and love to play in the rain. My grandsons enjoy the simpler life for sure!
Homesteading Teaches Sharing and Teamwork
Whether I am cutting logs, planting a garden, building a structure, or doing daily chores, I always try to involve the boys. When they collect eggs, one holds the basket while the other gets the eggs. While one child is filling the feeders, the other is filling the water.
Sharing responsibility like that teaches them teamwork. Kids need to learn to share and work together. I let them paint together, bake together and complete chores together. I am always on the lookout for things they can do that make them work together as a team.
One of the homestead dogs had 10 puppies on the day before Valentine’s Day one year. The boys were so excited. They came to help me every day as I changed their bedding and cleaned them. They took turns keeping the puppies close by and putting new pads down.
Homesteading teaches children not only responsibility, but to work together to get it done. This is a wonderful life lesson that they are developing early.
Children Learn Respect for Living Things
New things happen all the time on our homestead. We have seen puppies being born, new bird species showing up to our feeders, baby squirrels that needed to be rescued and new plant sprouting that we didn’t know we had.
Those are all positive experiences for children but with the positive comes the negative. Older dogs have passed away, trees have died and fallen and of course, the occasional dead animal found in the woods. We use these experiences to teach them about life and how to be respectful of living things.
The boys know that our trees are filled with nests of squirrels, hawks, small birds and even owls. We leave those nests alone and do not ever disturb them. They help me put dryer lint and string into mesh bags for the birds to build nests with. The feeders are filled and they make sure everything is clean for the birds.
Both boys have learned that we don’t cut any trees or branches until we are certain that there are no nests that will be affected first. When we find an animal that another animal feasted on in the woods or that simply died there, they help bury the animal.
We build frog houses for our ponds and place corn cobs for the squirrels. We have even saved a gopher turtle or two that has made it to the street we were driving on. All of these small things we do instills respect for living things in the boys.
Children love to be involved in everything we do so involve them and let them be a part of your wonderful homestead journey. If you are homesteading with small children check out The Prairie Homestead for some great advice!
Let them help you build the chicken coop. allow them to collect eggs, teach them to responsibly build a campfire and collect firewood. Let them feed the birds and the squirrels and point out new critters that venture your way.
Help them start a garden of their own, let them water it and care for it. Homesteading teaches children to be responsible, to care and respect all living things and to work as a team to accomplish some of your homesteading goals.
What do your children do on your homestead? Do they share in the chores? Are there other ways homesteading teaches children I haven’t mentioned? I would love to hear what others do, share your thoughts below!