Homeschooling on the Homestead: Tips to Help You Get Started


Homeschooling on the homestead is the new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some tips to help you incorporate homeschooling into your daily routine on the homestead. #homesteadhomeschooling #homeschoolingonthehomesteadHomeschooling has, traditionally, gone hand-in-hand with homesteading. Families whose lives centered around their homes have often chosen to homeschool their children on the homestead too, blending curriculum seamlessly with domestic life.

Nowadays, many homesteading families still choose to homeschool their children. But not me.

Not that I have anything against homeschooling. In fact, I used to be a teacher and have often romanticized the idea of keeping Evelyn (my now four-year-old daughter) home, sitting around the kitchen table with her doing read-alouds and math problems and science experiments together. But for me, I really need space and silence to get my work done. And, being a (seemingly) extroverted only child, Evelyn needs the social atmosphere that her preschool provides.

All of this to say that I am no expert when it comes to homeschooling, so don’t ask me!

(Am I inspiring confidence yet??)

 

Homeschool: The ‘New Normal’

Of course, 2020 being what it is with the pandemic and all, many, many people, both homesteaders and non-homesteaders alike, have suddenly found themselves having to incorporate homeschooling into their schedules for the first time.

Whether by choice or necessity, it’s not easy to add homeschooling to our already very full plates. Especially as homesteaders, we’ve got the extra work of gardening, cooking and preserving, plus all sorts of other domestic tasks that take our time and attention. For anyone who’s new to it, homeschooling can just feel like one more weight on our already tense shoulders, especially during a year when stress and anxiety is at an all-time high as we all try to adapt to the “new normal.”

And so, for this reason, I’m excited to introduce you to someone who does know what she’s talking about when it comes to balancing homeschooling on the homestead!

Ginny Aaron is a homeschooling mom of three children, ages 11, 9 and 7. She’s also a full-time homesteader and keeper of around 60 chickens, three rabbits, six goats, five bottle calves, and about a “bzzilion” bees (blame Ginny for that pun;).

Needless to say, she’s a very busy woman at the best of times, and today she’s here sharing her best tips for incorporating homesteading and homeschooling with your daily routine so that educating your children at home doesn’t just feel like “one more thing” on your to-do list.

If you’re one of the many mothers and fathers faced with homeschooling your kids for the first time this year, whether you’ve got 50 acres in the country and a herd of cattle to tend to or a small house and backyard garden in the suburbs, you’re sure to glean wisdom, comfort and inspiration from Ginny’s approach to homeschooling.

But don’t take my word for it. Read on, and be sure to leave a comment below to let us know what you think, or tell us how you’re approaching your child’s education this year!

 

Related: How to Prepare Your Kids For An Emergency At School

 

Tips From A Homesteading, Homeschooling Mom of Three

We’ve been a homeschooling family for the past three years. I’ve researched extensively, read books, joined groups, asked questions and have had people give me many opinions *ahem* on our decision.

We combine a wonderful curriculum with real life experience. Because life does not require you to just know your reading, math, and language arts.  It requires life skills, discipline, routine, planning and the ability to follow instructions.

My name is Ginny Lynn Aaron and I am so excited to be sharing a part of our family story with you!

I’m originally from a town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I met my husband while he was working in Ohio. I was a single mother at the time and never thought that I would be ready to meet the man of my dreams, but that is exactly what happened. After some time, his job ended in Ohio and it was time for him to come back home, to Texas.

We had a hard decision in front of us. We were still under a year of being in a relationship. But I knew that it was time to take the biggest chance of my life.

I said our goodbyes to family and friends, loaded the car and we hit the road. This city girl, who loved the nightlife in the city, the convenience of close shopping, and the everyday hustle that it brings was moved onto a red dirt road and tucked back into the woods of East Texas. It’s been an adventure to say the least.

My husband Robert is a hard-working man who has been in the oilfield industry for close to two decades. Triple 13 Livestock, our family farm, has been a dream of his. However, his adventurous life of being an oilfield man has kept him steadily traveling.

He has traveled all over the United States and worked in more states than I have ever dreamed of visiting. But after 17 years of that life, I am glad that he has decided that coming back to the dirt road home was the right thing to do. I am so blessed that he chose me to be his partner in achieving his dreams, and how fun the journey has been.

Izzy, our daughter, is 11 years old. She loves to cook and bake, and she loves to bottle feed our calves. She’s a terrific helper when it comes to helping with her brothers or cooking supper. There is not a challenge that she will not conquer, head on. She’s a strong young lady and I could not be more pleased with how well she’s growing up.

Maddox is our 9-year-old son. He is more laid back, but he loves to get outside and all but roll in the mud. He is his daddy’s helper and loves to make him proud. Though he may not always remember to wash his hands, he can tell you exactly how to mend a hole in the fence!

Our youngest son, Axyl, is seven years old and is as spirited as they come. He will talk your ear off, run circles around the yard, and climb the fence posts to hang upside down. Axyl isn’t always the most eager to help tend to animals, pick weeds from the garden, or complete his chore of straightening the bathroom, but if you need a good laugh, a great big hug, someone to read you a story, or someone to snuggle with, he is all in!

We incorporate our traditional homeschooling into our everyday lives. We use a terrific curriculum, but we know that education is much more than just opening books and writing answers on the lines.

Here’s how we incorporate homeschooling with daily life on our homestead, broken down by subject…

 

Language Arts/Reading

Along with following our curriculum, we apply language arts skills into our daily routine. The children all share the responsibility of writing our shopping lists. We work on their proper grammar, punctuation, and handwriting by writing letters to family members and friends. They love to use this time to practice their art skills and draw and paint pictures to send along with their letters. I also have them keep journals.

They keep a Bible journal to write their daily verse in and they put into their own words how that verse is useful in their lives. Izzy loves to do her weekly lesson plans and fill out her planner.

For reading, we love to visit our local library. Axyl goes straight for the computers, Maddox heads directly to the comic books and Izzy goes straight for the chapter books! They get to choose one book that they want to read, and I have them each get a book on a subject they’d like to learn. It could be a book about woodworking, lightning, plants, the Periodic Table of Elements, the options are never-ending!

Homeschooling is becoming the new normal thanks to COVID-19. Here are some tips to help you incorporate homeschooling into your daily homesteading routine. #homesteadhomeschooling #homeschoolingonthehomestead

The point is, you don’t need to read specific texts or only write essays, stories and poems in order to teach Language Arts. Instead, incorporate Language Arts into your existing daily routine and let your kids choose what interests them. This makes it much easier and more enjoyable for both the teacher and the students!

 

Math

Math can be monotonous, frustrating, and bring the whole vibe of the day down! It isn’t their favorite subject to sit drill (and who could blame them). But math can be incorporated into all sorts of tasks, from cooking and baking to gardening and finances…

First, we spice things up in the kitchen! We get to work on mental math skills, fractions, weight conversions, temperature, and the dreaded “telling of time” while we work on cooking and baking projects. The kitchen is such a great place to practice these useful math skills, plus it shows how to apply them in real life!

In the garden, we keep simple math skills sharp, such as grouping and counting by 5’s or 10’s by counting out seeds for our new gardens. The kids learn record-keeping and a little about accounting. Izzy is even practicing calculating area and perimeter as we plan our new square-foot garden!

Homeschooling on the homestead is the new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some tips to help you incorporate homeschooling into your daily routine on the homestead. #homesteadhomeschooling #homeschoolingonthehomestead

She’s a planner by nature, so she gets to draw up ‘blueprints’ for the garden. She will calculate the area, research how far plants need to be spaced out, and draw out the plans so we know what is to be planted where. It’s a well-honed system…usually;)

They help figure out how much the grocery bill will be. We practice math in the car when we go for drives (ie. How many songs can we listen to before we reach our destination? We are driving 65 mph and our destination is 60 miles away, when will we get there? Etc.)

Every moment in life can be used as a learning moment, for you and your children. Education doesn’t have to be separate from daily life. And truly, it shouldn’t be.

 

Science

Science is a favorite subject for all of the kids (and the teacher, too!). We tend to bounce around in science and incorporate their lessons with whatever we’re doing that day.

If we’re planting a new garden bed, we go over how plants grow. How do they reproduce? What’s the life cycle of a plant? What do plants need to survive?

Digging in the soil and observing natural life is a great way to get kids interested in science and asking questions about the world around them!

If we’re making changes to our calves’ bottles, we go over the life cycle of a cow and how their stomachs work. That works well with the goats, too. Collecting and packaging eggs to sell? That’s a perfect day to talk about the life cycle of chickens!! Why do hens lay eggs and what is needed to fertilize them?

Homeschooling is becoming the new normal thanks to COVID-19. Here are some tips to help you incorporate homeschooling into your daily homesteading routine. #homesteadhomeschooling #homeschoolingonthehomestead

We get to hunt for bugs and look at them closely. We really love to learn about honeybees! We’ll go to our hive and watch the new baby bees doing their orientation flights, watch the worker bees bringing back pollen and open the hive up and go on a search for the “torpedo butt” queen! It’s all just so exciting! Science is the subject that makes me forget that I’m the teacher because we get so caught up in the learning.

Homeschooling is becoming the new normal thanks to COVID-19. Here are some tips to help you incorporate homeschooling into your daily homesteading routine. #homesteadhomeschooling #homeschoolingonthehomestead

We incorporate science into cooking and baking as well!

Why does a cake rise? What ingredient do we put in it to make it rise? What happens if we use baking soda instead of baking powder? Sometimes we will mess up a recipe JUST to see what happens and how it is affected! Don’t worry, we will still make it edible!

 

Social Studies

We love to visit local museums and learn about how our great state was founded and established. While Robert traveled for work, we used that as an opportunity to visit many museums and learn about each area.

If you ever get to come to Texas, it comes HIGHLY recommended that you visit the Washington on the Brazos State Park. The park is absolutely beautiful, the museum is educational, interactive and it is so fun that you forget that you’re learning.

Texas requires that homeschooled children learn about citizenship. We learn to be good citizens in our community. We pick up garbage at the park, help someone put groceries into their vehicle, take a person’s cart back at the store, or offer help to the local librarian with putting the books away.

Another great way to learn about Social Studies is from our Bible studies. Love Thy Neighbor. We will use our math and science classes cooking up a great snack or dessert and then Social Studies will be to take it to our neighbors, who also happen to be their great-grandmother and their grandmother. It makes for a wonderful break in what can seem extremely monotonous and tedious.

When it comes to learning about history, the library is a great place to start. But there are tons of great videos for kids on YouTube that make learning about the past both fun and entertaining. You could also have your kids act out historical events and perform them for you, which incorporates art and drama into your homeschool curriculum too!

 

Find teachable moments in the everyday

One of the greatest misconceptions about homeschooling is that we need to do it just like public school. But what if you are homeschooling because your child didn’t thrive in public school? If you mimic the routines and lessons that you took your child away from, what’s the point of homeschooling?

Homeschooling is becoming the new normal thanks to COVID-19. Here are some tips to help you incorporate homeschooling into your daily homesteading routine. #homesteadhomeschooling #homeschoolingonthehomestead

Throughout history, until very recently, education has happened at home. The truth is, there are teachable moments to be found all throughout our days so long as we take a little time to stop and recognize them and capitalize on the lessons to be learned in everyday tasks.

You don’t have to sit at a desk for 6-7 hours a day drilling kids’ minds full of memorization, repetition, and bookwork. Not to mention, what takes a public-school teacher 45 minutes to teach to 25+ children, you can teach your child in 15 minutes! You have the added advantage of knowing your children and their passions well. And if you don’t know their passions well, homeschooling gives you a fantastic opportunity to learn more about them as people and bond more as a family.

When it comes to homeschooling on the homestead, the bottom line is that it’s exactly what YOU make it, and my family has decided to make it fun and captivating while still being very educational. In the uncertain times of our current world, nothing makes me happier than being on this adventure, every day, with my family.

I will leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes that help to inspire me on this homeschooling journey:

“The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.” – Elbert Hubbard

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

 


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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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Well, it was no small task, but I FINALLY got everything in my pantry inventoried, organized and put away.

I wanted to share my process with you too, so if you’re interested in getting a full tour of our pantry and seeing how I organize things, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and check it out on YouTube!

P.S. I know you’re not supposed to stack canning jars as having multiple heavy rows stacked on top of each other can compromise the seal of the jars on the bottom. I avoid stacking when possible, but due to the style of our pantry I have made the conscious choice to stack one row (max) on top of the bottom and always make sure to stack jars of equal or lesser weight on top. And yes, we do have plans to add more shelves soon. Just a disclaimer since I’m sure I’ll get more comments about it;)

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Finally got around to taking EVERYTHING out of the pantry today and now getting ready to take inventory.

When everything is buried in the pantry, it can be so easy to forget what you have. That’s why I always recommend taking everything out when starting a pantry challenge so you know exactly what you’ve got. I was feeling like we hadn’t preserved enough food this year to get us through the month, but now that I see everything, I’ve got all sorts of creative ideas for how to use up the abundance of food that we have.

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Alright, back at it. Wish me luck!

Have you started organizing your pantry yet??
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🌱 One of the things I get asked the most during the #homesteadpantrychallenge is what we do for fresh veggies. Now, I much prefer to eat seasonally, which means eating the veggies that we preserved over the summer and fall during the winter. But I do start to miss my fresh greens by the time January rolls around.

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And so, I turn to microgreens to provide me and my fam with fresh greens this time of year. They’re not only packed with nutrients (said to be higher in nutrients than their full grown counterparts!), they can be grown on your countertop and are ready to harvest in just a few days!

Not to mention, they taste delicious and look beautiful! I made this cheesy pasta dish topped with broccoli microgreens for dinner and the microgreens (which are just the seedling version of the full grown plant) tasted just like broccoli. Plus, the purple and green colours take an otherwise kinda boring dish and make it pop💥

I get all of my microgreens from @trueleafmarket, one of the sponsors of this month’s pantry challenge, as well as the current issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine!

To enter to win your own self-watering microgreens growing kit from True Leaf Market, be sure to join in the Homestead Pantry Challenge on Instagram, and to learn more about microgreens AND score yourself a sweet 10% discount off all True Leaf products, make sure you’re subscribed to Modern Homesteading Magazine (discount code is in the magazine and in the delivery email).

If you’re not yet subscribed, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and subscribe for free!

What’s your go-to source for fresh greens in the winter??
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Well, we made it. It’s hard to believe that 2020 is finally behind us, but here we are, at the dawn of a new year; A fresh page and a new chapter.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year...

Time for the 2021 Homestead Pantry Challenge to begin!!!

Every year in January, I like to challenge myself to eat only what I've managed to store away throughout the year and avoid the grocery store at all costs. And after the year we’ve just had, many of us are doing our best to avoid the grocery store already. Plus, with the financial impacts of lockdowns and the fragility of our global supply chain, saving a few bucks and taking steps to become more self-sufficient are top of mind for a lot of people right now.

Needless to say, a pantry challenge might be just what you need right about now to reign in your spending, put your resourcefulness, kitchen skills and creativity to the test, increase your self-sufficiency and decrease your dependence on the grocery store and on people and systems that are outside of your control.

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This year's Homestead Pantry Challenge is even bigger and better than before too, with some exciting prizes up for grabs, including a @lodgecastiron skillet, a self-watering micro greens growing kit from @trueleafmarket and an 8-quart Duo Nova Instant Pot!!!

🥫To join in and enter to win, post photos or videos of your pantry, your meal planning, your meals, etc. during the pantry challenge and use the hashtag #homesteadpantrychallenge in the caption. Every post equals one entry:)

🎞 You can also post in your stories using the hashtag #homesteadpantrychallenge and tagging me @thehouseandhomestead for additional entries!

I'm SO pumped about this year's challenge and I really REALLY hope you'll join me!

The challenge officially begins on January 1st and runs until January 31st, but you can sign up via my link in bio @thehouseandhomestead and get all the details before we begin!
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Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to YouTube.com/thehouseandhomestead for all the latest videos:)
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There’s still an endless list of skills I want to learn and projects I want to tackle. The thing I love most about the homesteading lifestyle is that there is literally always something new to learn!

I don’t expect to ever learn all the things I want to learn, but I know that even when I’m in the latter season of my life, I’ll still have an insatiable appetite to keep learning until it’s my time to leave this Earth.

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