I have a somewhat embarrassing confession. Here goes… For a long time, I automatically assumed that basically all homesteaders homeschool their kids. However, after getting to know others in the community, I’ve found that homeschooling and homesteading don’t automatically go together for everyone. (“Sheltered” homeschool kid myself here.) There are still many homesteaders hesitant to make the leap into homeschooling. And I definitely understand their reasons.
To be clear, the purpose of this post is not to shame anyone. I absolutely respect others’ decisions not to homeschool. Everyone should have the freedom to choose how they want their kids to be educated.
I do hope to encourage and inspire homesteaders that may be on the fence. If you are a homesteader or an aspiring homesteader, and don’t yet know which direction you want to take with your children’s education, this post is for you.
If you’re brand new to homeschooling, you’ll be encouraged by reading this post on 5 Things You Should Know by Silo & Sage. She also has some amazing how-to-homeschool courses you should check out as well!
Let’s talk about 5 positive reasons to homeschool as a homesteader!
Homeschooling and homesteading compliment each other
There’s a reason that both of these terms contain the word “home”.
When running a homestead, we typically spend a little more time at home than the average person. That’s because there is much to do! Things like caring for animals, preserving, and maintaining property account for a significant amount of a homesteader’s livelihood.
Obviously, homeschooling takes place at home as well. Now, perhaps your outside job is a part time gig, or you do a majority (or all) of your work from home. A common misconception of homeschooling is that you have to take a significant amount of time away from daily tasks in order to school your children. For example, spending less time on responsibilities around the homestead. However, the reality is that kids thrive when we include them in the things we do on a daily basis. And, in the process, they learn many valuable lessons.
I’ve always felt that homesteaders homeschool because it enriches our lives in several ways. The kids are learning valuable skills, and we have extra hands around to help out more often! Not to mention, being home together gives us more time to bond as a family.
The homestead life teaches business and life skills
For us, homeschool isn’t just about academics. I want my kids to be book smart, but I also want them to grow valuable business and life skills that they may not learn in school at this age. Modern homesteading involves an element of entrepreneurship in many ways. So what better way to teach our kids about business skills like bartering, marketing, budgeting, and more? If there is a chance that they may want to start any kind of business later on in life, having these skills would be invaluable.
Growing up learning on a homestead will give a child the tools they need to survive and thrive in the real world. Doing household chores, growing gardens, overcoming various obstacles and challenges (frozen water buckets or broken down machinery, anyone?)–all of these things teach important life skills. It also builds their confidence and stamina.
Homesteaders homeschool to dictate their own schedule
Another reason that homesteaders homeschool is that there is no confinement to specific school hours. So let the pressure go! There is no rule stating you must spend 4 straight hours doing bookwork or that you must get started with school by 9am. Break it up and focus on working hard during you and your child’s peak hours. Also recognize that throughout the school year, your schedule may change, and that’s completely okay!
An added benefit of homeschooling is flexible holiday breaks. You can decide to take a week off for spring or fall break whenever it makes the most sense for your family.
One thing I personally recommend is to plan in advance for busy homesteading seasons like harvest time, or seasons where you’re welcoming new animals. During the slower months, spend a bit more time focusing on academics. By doing so you won’t even have reason to feel that you’re falling behind when things get busy.
Homesteading and homeschooling lend themselves to following natural rhythms and routines. You can read more about the importance of rhythms and rituals from Our Gabled Home.
Homesteaders homeschool to take learning beyond workbooks
How much of a blessing is it to homestead? To live somewhere that enables us not to be confined to books? This lifestyle affords so many hands-on lessons. Homesteading gives our kids lots of opportunities to get outside, get dirty, and explore the natural world. We see the beautiful fruit of regularly practicing both formal and informal learning with our children.
I have found that my kids “get” our book lessons that much more as we get outside and experience everyday life with our plants and animals. All of the things they read about in their books begin to click as we spend time working on the homestead together. They have chances to practice safety, math, science, health, communication, and more just by being a part of what goes on around the farm. It’s amazing how well they comprehend things that workbooks alone just can’t do justice.
Homesteaders homeschool to give kids the outside play and exercise they need
We’ve already touched on the benefits of homeschooling, homesteading, and spending time outside. Studies have shown that physical activity and outside play greatly increase a child’s ability to learn. Practically speaking, I’ve always wondered how small children are supposed to spend 6 hours learning at a desk. In “normal” school, kids only spend 30 minutes to 1 hour outside during that timeframe. It’s no wonder some struggle with sitting still and being quiet.
By homeschooling and living on a homestead simultaneously, there’s an abundance of outside time built into a child’s life. This actually gives them the ability to focus more easily on difficult tasks. Of course, there comes a time to pull out the books and do some hard studying, even on the homestead. But I’ve found that most children who engage in adequate physical activity are more ready and willing to do so.
Did this post encourage you or change your thinking? What have been your experiences in homeschooling + homesteading together? Let me know in a comment!