Over the last year children (and their teachers) have had a lot thrown at them. It’s certainly something they’ll look back on as part of history, with hopefully some fond memories as well as recalling how shocking it can be living through a worldwide pandemic.

Most children have been remote learning for at least part of the lockdowns. Whether they’ve been live learning like we’ve had, activities via online apps, or going back to paper packs of work, their learning has continued. And not only what they’ve learnt of school work. There’s so much more this period in their lives has taught them.

Farmers fall under key worker criteria, except it seems in Scotland where I know of a few farming families where children have been refused school spaces because parents work from home on the farm…they seem to have ignored the fact that farmers don’t actually work in the house, and that it’s one of the most dangerous jobs. So while farm kids do often help on the farm, they certainly wouldn’t be doing school work online while helping their parents out on the farm. We would have been able to take up a place for N, but because I can work from home, he’s been at home throughout lockdowns.

From the fun to the inappropriate (too much for my liking in this house thanks to the OH), to the skills for future life.

What farm kids learn while on lockdown

From learning about themselves and being with their families more.

There’s a lot that can be taken away from what children have learnt over the last year. Even if you’re worried about their progress in school work.

What farm kids learn when remote learning

(the alternative to school work)

Farm work

Over the summer when they had packs to work from and daily work exercises, N had much more time to spend with his dad on the farm as he worked early and finished school work by lunchtime. He went out to help with harvest, fed some orphaned or struggling calves daily, learnt about AI from reading farming catalogues, and what happens when a bull and cow mate. He spent a lot of time driving the gator up our fields, and even did a bit of rolling himself in the tractor.

Home schoolng on a farm does allow for a lot of different learning options. Some other farming mums I know, shared some of what their children have learnt over the last year, to back up their school learning:

English: filling in forms for parents, overhearing interesting words that probably aren’t in the dictionary (or appropriate for repeating.

Maths: sorting out passport numbers and tags, measuring out feed, negotiating deals to buy and sell animals, converting pounds to guineas when watching market sales

Science: genetics and reproduction, animal breeds, TB testing and spread of disease, understanding electrical current with what you can touch electric fences with, the food cycle.

PE: it’s all PE (even climbing on and off a tractor!, shovelling sileage up to the cows.

Geography: learning areas and fields of the farm, size of fields, crop rotation and conservation, clustering of disease spread, location of fields, weather and climate impact on agriculture and the environment.

Technology: building fences, repairing buildings, changing tyres, use of bail twine

Economics: negotiating deals for calves as payment for work done, counting ‘wages’ and pocket money to understand how long he needs to save to buy more animals.

Home ec: baking and more baking

Not all learning is farm kids specific

Bonding with pets

We’d got a puppy in January, as did the in laws, so N really built up the bond he had with the dogs on the farm. He’d be out usually more than once daily walking her up the fields, sometimes on his own (which meant he then got given a basic phone in case he got in trouble). Once some restrictions were lifted, he also got to do his puppy training session which had been a birthday present. So he’s been the one to train the dog too.

Computer literacy

Ok, so they’re getting this from school work if they’re online in lessons. N is a pro on Teams, uploading assignments, printing work, receiving emails and downloading documents in the best way, using chat, and they also have typing practice for 10 minutes after lunch daily. His typing and finding his way around a keyboard has improved so much in a short time.

The downside is a lot of screen time, and it’s not really fair to put a stop on their relaxation screen time too. So he’s also improved his search engine asks, as well as his construction and buying short vs long term understanding through playing new computer games like Farming Simulator.

Old fashioned entertainment and enjoying family time

He might love the outdoors, but children of today have more electronic gadgets than we ever had. Sometimes the best boredom busters are old fashioned games and activities. The board games have come out and knowledge is being expanded.

Music knowledge

I always said N was getting stuck in a music rut thanks to the OH and him always listening to rock. He misses music history and lessons at school but I can easily expand his knowledge at home. He’s overheard some of Gary Barlow’s Crooner Sessions on Instagram when I’ve listened to them, he’s learnt a bit more about show tunes. And best of all I’ve given him an introduction to Britpop bands, music and ‘style’. It turns out Song 2 by Blur is rocky enough to make it onto his playlist.

Standing his ground

N gets teased a lot by his dad and uncle. Being the youngest of all the nephews/niece, they seem to think he’s game, and it’s not fair. But he’s starting to get stronger about saying no. He’ll point out when things have gone further than he wants. And he’ll pull me in when he needs help. Last year, he even agreed a long term deal to stop it with his dad. I’m pleased because the OH does sometimes think things are funny when they’re not, and N is learning to be strong and stand up for himself. If he can do that to his dad, I’m confident he’ll be able to navigate friendship issues and peer pressure in future years. As well as being confident enough to ask for help when needed.

Homeskills

While I can’t give up housework and chores yet, but N is learning different home and life skills, like better dusting, cooking by himself, and how to use the washing machine.

N’s loved remote learning and being at home for much of the last year. I think he’d be surprised at how much he has learnt outside of the school work.

What sort of things have your kids been learning?

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