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Make Summer Days Schooling Days

Make teachable moments for your kids -- and yourself

 The school year is winding up for most children. One good thing about raising kids on the farm is that they rarely have time to get bored.

Mom and Dad probably have a whole list of “to-do’s” lined up for summer vacation – barn cleaning, weeding, mowing and more. While your work ethic is important to pass on, so is your ability to analyze, project and foresee.

The latter skills are only learned by teaching examples – showing and sharing why looking ahead and anticipating is so important. Yes, it takes time. But nothing is more important. Instilling these important life skills is the best time investment your can make in your future generation – no matter if you’re a parent or a grandparent.

What kids will remember

As a youth, I worked hard and long in all kinds of weather on my parents’ farm. But what I remember most are the times we finished up early on summer afternoons. Then we headed to the lake where all the walleyes and bullheads waited for our worms. Sitting on the dock or shoreline, we watched our bobbers wiggle, watched the sun go down and heard evening’s stillness grow.

Not much was said. But not much needed to be said.

And there were memorable days when my Dad and brother helped me break 4-H calves to halter. One 1,000-pound Angus had his own mind, and would suddenly drop his head and charge off. So we were going to fix him – so we thought – by putting a “trip rope” on his left front leg. He ran quite well on three legs, dragging the three of us behind.

 Together, we celebrated good moments and learned from those that weren’t. These were shared, teaching moments about the value of family, about working together. And they helped carry us through more difficult times.

Too many parents want their kids to work and not ask questions. Worse, some simply want their kids to stay out of the way. Then they wonder why their kids don’t want to work for them or with them. And they wonder why the kids don’t want to farm or have necessary practical skills.

What you need to teach . . .

  • What direction screws and nuts turn – on and off
  • How to swing a hammer
  • How to fix leaks and lube and tune machines
  • How to anticipate what an animal is thinking
  • The rewards of patience and understanding
  • What to do in anticipation of seasonal changes
  • How advance preparation beats mad scrambling every time
  • The cost of mistakes and the rewards of success
  • How faith carries you through tough times

These are the marks of a good teacher, marks we can all improve upon. And, I’m sure you can add to them.

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