People around the country are returning to their roots. They are becoming modern homesteaders and joining the legion of others who want to cook meals from scratch, garden organically, raise backyard chickens, and learn the art of preserving. But much as we are returning to our roots, what about the next generation? Are we encouraging our children to become homesteaders or sharing with them the very delights we are experiencing?
Regarding if you began homesteading last month or have been at it for years, the key is to share the experience with your children. Get them involved and share tasks so they have a better understanding of what you do on a daily or weekly basis. You just be the inspiration for the next generation of modern/urban homesteaders.
To get your children engaged, think about their age. What they are capable of? What have they shown interest in? Do they have the manual dexterity for certain tasks? Have they asked to help?
20 Homestead Skills to Share with Young Children
- Hang laundry to dry (can hang clothes on a drying rack if clothes line is too high for them to reach).
- Feed small animals such as rabbits, chickens, and ducks.
- Gather eggs from the nest boxes (if you have a lot of chickens, allow them to make multiple trips to the coop).
- Take them seed shopping or show them the catalogs and read the descriptions to them (buy some items they are interested in).
- Bring in kindling for the fireplace.
- Add material to nest boxes.
- Give them a small garden bed (or planters or containers) to help tend during the garden season.
- Purchase child-sized tools and show them how to properly use the tools (many nurseries or online garden stores now offer small tools for children, such as hoes, rakes, and watering cans).
- Teach them when various fruits and vegetables are ripe and when to harvest (allow them to sample as they harvest).
- Allow them to help pick the chicks, ducklings, or rabbits that you will raise.
- Teach them how to cook (start with easy projects such as measuring ingredients, how to mix, and how to follow a recipe).
- Have them help wash fruits and vegetables after harvesting (show them how dirt sinks to the bottom of the sink or bucket).
- Show them how you mend cloths: sewing on a button, darning socks, sewing on a patch, etc…
- Explain how composting is plant recycling and have them add materials to your compost bucket/bin/pile.
- Show them how to gather seeds at the end of the season (make sure to gather just one variety at a time and then how to separate seed from any pod or chaff and how to dry if necessary. Use plain envelopes and allow them to decorate the packets.
- Show them how to wash dishes (save the sharp knives for yourself) and how a clean dish should feel… no grit or food residue stuck to it.
- Teach them how to plant seedlings as well as seeds. Allow them to dig the furrow or hole with their own garden tool.
- Have them help rake and gather leaves. Let the experience be fun and allow time for jumping into piles of leaves.
- Show them how to press leaves and flowers. When they are dry, your children can create their own craft project to decorate their room or perhaps to adorn the refrigerator. (Paper and glue are great starting points).
- Ask them to get canning jars (one or two at a time) in the size you need (such as half pints, pints, quarts) for canning projects plus lids and rims. Take this opportunity to explain why and how to can.
By involving your child(ren) in homesteading projects, you are teaching them valuable skills. They learn the hows and whys. They may experience some disappointments, but will discover that is part of the process. When things go well, they will feel a sense of accomplishment. They can point to something and say, “I did that”! If you have more than one child, they will learn how to work together. What a bonus!
For the best possible experience for your child, start small. Don’t overwhelm them with tasks or complicated procedures. Keep their safety in mind. Don’t have them do a chore or task that could put them at risk for harm. By keeping these things in mind, not only can you educate your little ones about homesteading, but get them involved so they truly feel part of the daily/weekly activities. You just may be raising the next generation of homesteaders!
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/ugacommunications/6430961073/”>UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences – OCCS</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>