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Homeschooling on the Farm

I often think about how people lived on family farms over a century ago.  I think about this when it comes to homeschooling too.  People had large families for a good reason.  They needed their children to help with the farm!  Where did school fit into that?  From what I understand, it often took second place.  Parents were happy if their kids could just learn to read and write and do some math.  All that they really needed to learn, they would learn on the farm.  Today, we are very concerned with our children’s education.  We know that it will help them be successful in life.  Consequently, I have often struggled with finding the balance between living off grid and having to time to focus on homeschooling.

Today homeschool moms struggle with keeping up their homes and providing healthy homecooked meals for their families while teaching their kids and getting them to all of the various activities they are involved in.  I know many families who often resort to take out because it is just easier.  I definitely understand juggling homeschool with other responsibilities.  It’s hard to do both.  But I’m committed to living off grid without electricity and running water.  So how do I provide what my family needs without modern conveniences and still focus on my children’s education?  I have definitely struggled with this, especially when my youngest was an infant.

spinning-woolI really don’t think that the mothers living on farms in the 19th and early 20th centuries filled their days with homeschooling.    They were primarily concerned with the necessities of life: getting water, growing and preparing food, making clothing for their families, having babies, etc.  They did it all without electricity or running water.  Perhaps they had to carry their water from the creek.  They probably made all of their clothes by hand with a needle and thread if they didn’t have a treadle sewing machine.  Many of them even spun their own wool!  And a lot of them probably didn’t know how to read or write themselves.  They wanted better for their children and they must have been so happy when their communities got a schoolhouse and teachers to educate them.  My grandma, who recently passed away at 100 years old, was one of those teachers.  I remember her talking about this time of her life and how she enjoyed teaching!

So how do I make my children’s education my number one priority while living off grid?  I want them to excel and have the opportunity to go to college, if they choose.  My oldest recently finished first grade and I feel like it has taken me all that time to establish a schedule that works for us.  I did not do a Kindergarten curriculum with Joshua, but instead decided to start first grade and take it slow.  Kaleb was born and we moved off grid.  I knew back then that it might take me two years to get through the first grade curriculum!  But that was fine with me.  He is turning eight in the fall.  If he was in public school, he would be starting second grade then.  I’ve very happy with all that he has learned, even though it has been a struggle for me to set aside time on a regular basis.  He has become a wonderful reader and he is blowing me away with his math facts lately.  I’m so excited about that!

I purposely have decided to spread out schoolwork throughout the year, without taking the typical summer break.  This gives me so much more room to be able to take a week off here and there for family activities.  There will be times this summer when I need to spend a lot more time in the kitchen canning our garden’s produce.  We will probably do limited schoolwork at that time.  We take trips to town for groceries about once a month that generally require most of the day.  We don’t do schoolwork on those days.  In the spring, we sheered our sheep.  The boys desperately wanted to watch.  We didn’t do schoolwork those days.  We have so many learning activities on our farm.  I love our traditional curriculum and I think it’s important, but I don’t want my kids to miss out on learning other things because they are stuck in the classroom.  Schooling year round gives me the flexibility to fit schooling into our life and make sure they are learning everything that they need to in the “classroom”.

Joshua-school-deskWe also spread schoolwork out over the morning and the afternoon, taking a big break for outside chores.  In the morning, we purposely work on subjects that require less hands on from me.  I know that most moms get the majority of their schoolwork done in the morning.  Living off grid creates some challenges with that.  It takes me some time in the morning to do laundry (without washer and dryer) so I can get it out on the clothesline.  I’ve found that what works for us is for Joshua to work on his writing/penmanship, english, and art at this time of morning.  After I’m done with my inside chores, we head outside for our outside chores.  While we are doing physical chores, we work on Bible memory, counting, spelling, and other things we can do orally.  After this he has plenty of time for outside play and farm activities.  In the afternoon (during my toddler’s naptime), we are able to have focused table time together.  We work on math, reading, science, and social studies.  For things like science, social studies, and art, we alternate days, so that we only do these 2 days a week.  This is what works for us.

A seasoned homeschool mom once told me that first grade is one of the hardest when it comes to homeschooling.  After finishing first grade with my oldest, I would have to agree.  I was figuring out how to teach him and he was learning that a good part of his day had to be devoted to schoolwork instead of play.  It has also been difficult for me because I’ve been trying to devote my attention to it while also completing all my other responsibilities.  Being a homeschool mom can be demanding, but I’m so relieved to finally have a schedule that works for us!  I know that my son is excelling with his schoolwork and learning so many important things outside of the classroom as well.

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About JaimieB

Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead. They live with their two sons and her parents Tim and Joann on 50 acres located deep in the American Ozark Mountains.

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15 comments

  1. Oh my goodness I feel so awful my finger accidentally hit the rating box & gave it 1.5 stars. I didn’t mean to do that at all! In fact I’d rate your article a 5. I agreed with all you said. Homeschooling is hard work especially juggling the schedule when you have other responsibilities. We have 5 children, a small 10acre farm with cows, goats & chickens plus a huge garden. We milk morning and night, and obviously you know when harvest season hits, it’s pretty crazy! I try to do my best to make all my meals from scratch which means extra time in the kitchen. It has been a huge challenge trying to juggle schooling with all the other responsibilities; some days are better than others. I so much appreciate reading all your articles and watching the youtube videos. We can hardly wait to see the newest one each week & see what y’all are up to. Again my apologies for the low star rating; purely accidental and if you could remove it that’d be great. As I think about the Proverbs 31 woman, you seem like a real life example. Thank you for the encouragement you bring to the rest of us. God bless you & your family in all your endeavors. May He give you strength & endurance each day to meet the demands upon you.

    • Marcie, thank you for your sweet comment. Yes, some days are harder than others, but every one is worth it. We work hard to take care of our families and give them the best that we can. Even when homeschooling has not gotten the most of my attention that day, I know my kids are always learning. About the rating, I’m laughing because I did that once on one of my articles. I’m not sure how to remove a rating, but it’s okay. 🙂

      • You are certainly correct in that everyday, every moment is worth it! I couldn’t imagine not having every day with my kids…I love it! And yes, there is definite learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Just today me & the kids picked, snapped & canned green beans. I don’t think they even teach such important life skills as growing & preserving food, in public school.
        You mentioned in your video I believe that you had purchased your entire curriculum for around $100. I was wondering, where did you purchase it from? Thank you much!

        • I get mine from https://www.milestonebooks.com/ It is the Rod and Staff Curriculum. I realize that as my son gets older, the curriculum will get a little more expensive. We are in second grade now. I also didn’t purchase everything in the entire second grade set. I know what he needs. For example, I don’t purchase the writing practice because we use our own paper from the Dollar Tree for that. My final total for all second grade materials was $120.

          • If you are ever in the Springfield MO area, they have a nice used book store (Redeemed) that has a large homeschooling section with a lot of R&S curriculum. A few times a year the WHOLE STORE is 40% off. It’s actually going on right now till the end of august … with I guess is not too far away.
            Many of the sisters in our fellowship use R&S and something is always floating around for free. If you are interested, I can see if someone has some they are looking to get rid of.

          • Thanks for the information! I actually have all I need until next year, but I’ll keep it in mind for our 3rd grade year.

  2. Jamie and Marcie, y’all might want to research Homeschooling Torah. Jamie, with y’all living off grid this might be more difficult since alot of it is online. Or at least, you need to print or download internet. Only y’all could decide. I’ve looked it over the past few months and my husband and I finally decided to make the switch. My reasoning in choosing H.T.: 1) $39/mth gets me curriculum that is Bible based, Torah centered for ALL my children. I can even teach my 3 yr old grandson some Pre-K since I babysit him anyhow! I am schooling 4 of my 7 children now. 2) Anne, the creator, has home schooled for years so her curriculum is tested. 3) Anne also offers so very many resources that members can take advantage of…or not, if they choose. 4) She provides organizational tips and even Household tips and recipes for us busy home schooling moms! I am currently spending last week and this to print and plan…and attempt to get my house in order. We’ll be starting back to school Monday after a couple mths off that just happened to coincide with everyone else’s summer vacation. Jamie, it’s nice to know that there are other women out there who also have trouble balancing everything in a day with home schooling. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. I think the person that gave you the advice about first grade being the most difficult was correct. My oldest is going into 9th grade this year and I have to say that the younger grade levels did seem to be the most difficult. But then again, it somewhat depends on the individual child. Once they learn to read fluently with good comprehension and have good routines/habits established it becomes much easier, as they become fairly independent. However, my eldest is taking a heavy load this year as his first year of high school with studying for several CLEP/Dantes exams for college credit, so we will be working together a lot once again to be sure that he has a mastery and stays on track. The high school thing is an entirely different beast altogether, especially if college is in the plans. I have found homeschooling to wax and wane quite a bit over the years with keeping it minimal when medical issues or life emergencies come up versus getting a lot done and keeping in a routine when all is well. Of course, now that my 9th grader has activities that are more committed as well as his own job outside of the home, it might become a little trickier in some ways there as well. Overall, though, homeschooling has been an excellent educational option that has worked very well for our family. Not to mention that every time we watch the news it seems we have new validations for our choice to homeschool. It’s so nice to be at a point where we can start to see some of the concrete results of our efforts in our children in the fine young adults they are becoming.

  4. It is a blessing to be able to homeschool our children. I took mine out of public school when my oldest was 8 and I was still an atheist … I did not want my children being taught by a corrupt system. I wanted them to LOVE learning and know how to think for themselves. We are done with the homeschooling years and a few years ago I did a blog post about ‘if I could do it all over again’. I’m not sure if I am allowed to share links on here so I wont, but if I am able to please let me know and I’ll post a link.

    I’m not saying I have it all figured out, but I have learned a lot along the way and of course it’s easy to look back and see what worked and what did not. Each child is different. What works for one might not work for the next one or any of the next ones. I only had three children but each one has a totally different way of learning and processing information. My daughter learned to read super early, loves poetry, art, etc so I thought she’d be a great story teller and writer. My oldest son still struggles to read in his early 20s and never could read a fiction book (hard to process) so I thought he’d be a terrible story teller and writer. Guess what? My daughter is ‘ok’ at writing stories but my oldest son is excellent at it (when he cares to do it). And my youngest cannot write or spell to save his life … but he can do any trade he puts his mind to and do it very well.

    So much more is ‘caught’ rather than ‘taught’. In the right environment children will thrive … no curriculum needed. We spent our time at the library checking out books of interest to them (none of them fiction except what I chose to read to them in the evenings – and we read a lot in the evenings!). Character training was high on our priority list. Loving each other and loving others in our family and community. We also spent a lot of time outdoors at the local parks, nature centers, trails, camping, etc. We lived in the city most of their lives. We still live in the city, however it’s a lot smaller and country is all around. Looking back I can honestly say I do not have many regrets, but there are a few things I would do differently if I could do it all over again. But then again, maybe they would not be how they are today if I did things any different? They are all such a blessing to me 🙂

    I’m sure you and your children will have many happy times to come!

  5. What a joy to find this from you, Jamie! I’m so excited for your family to be carrying out the way of life like you wanted to! Your article is such an inspiration, and even reminds many of us that have homeschooled a while of the basics that we seem to get away from. I miss seeing Joshua’s sweet spirit every week, and you and your husband as well. God bless!

    • Good to hear from you Kathy! Did you read the part about the homeschool mom who told me that first grade is often the hardest? That was you! Do you remember telling me that? I often kept that in my mind as Joshua struggled with reading the first part of first grade. Things have gotten so much easier since he can read most things for himself. I always appreciated our homeschool chats. Joshua mentioned you all the other day. He misses playing with the kids at milk pickup. We have been without raw milk for over a year, but now we are able to get a gallon once a week. And sometimes another gallon from a friend if they have extra. It doesn’t last long around here!

  6. Homeschooled two boys. Until 9 years old? Boys are too squirmy to sit still very often. Relax thyself if you can! 😉 I taught one boy to read the other learned by osmosis. Let them learn what they love. I should say I ‘unschooled’ mine more than anything. Now competent, well adjusted, mannerly grown men. It’ll all work out. Don’t stress out into perfectionism. They’ll get it!

    ~Patty

  7. I have just stumbled across your website and am binge watching your videos! I had to keep the volume down this morning so I started checking out your articles. I thought I was a bit of an odd duck since I had perspectives that none of my family, friends, and even my husband share. However, watching your videos and reading your articles and readers’ comments makes me feel more confident that changes like this one are not outlandish, but possible and potentially more successful. I have been seriously considering home schooling for two years now but been too afraid to do it. Both my son and daughter have been terribly bullied year after year in public school with the only school remedy being focused on talks with the bully -no support for my kids who’ve slowly started losing their enthusiasm for school. But they love learning. Theyve been asking every year for me to keep them home. We seem to learn more together anyhow. If you can do it with all the extra challenges and work you face, then I am a smidgen more confident I should be able to struggle through. Thank you for so much sharing.

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