Farming: When Getting Kids Outside Was a Way of Life

Old Fashioned Threshing at the Rock County Thresheree

Talk about getting kids outside.

For farm kids, being outside is a way of life.

I was reminded of this over Labor Day weekend, when I attended the Rock River Thresheree in Edgerton, Wisconsin. The Thresheree is an agricultural festival where proud owners show off their finely-tuned and well-oiled antique tractors, cars, steam engines, saw blades, threshers and lots more.

Farm kids don’t have issues with getting outside. There are chores to do and high energy kids have no problem burning up energy, both physical and mental. If there aren’t things to do in the fields or barn, there’s always a machine to fix or maintain. Lots of machines.

I was impressed by the number of antique tractors and engines at this festival. There’s an entire building devoted to huge engines that used to power municipal wells and saw mills. Young kids participated in tractor rides and events. Truth is, I think farm kids have more opportunities to learn independence. They have chores, take care of animals, and can drive tractors at a young age.

The kids I work with, do not get much exposure to rural life or machines. They don’t get to work on machines until high school. This makes it all the more necessary to expose kids to physical and mechanical work and as well as recreational activities like hiking and skiing. There is a wide world out there and kids need to be aware of the range of work available to them, especially high energy kids that would excel in physically demanding jobs.

Showing kids places where they can use their minds and hands to make a living is important. Kids need to be shown the full range of opportunities available to them.

What you are doing to engage kids in physically and mentally challenging activities?

Diane Schwartz is an outdoor education teacher at the Goodman Community Center in Madison, Wisconsin. For a free 11-page Bubble Activity Guide, subscribe to this blog on the home page.

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One thought on “Farming: When Getting Kids Outside Was a Way of Life

  1. I grew up on the farm and did chores every day. It seems that there was always something that needed to be done so I was never bored. The outdoors was my favorite place to be and I loved being around the animals. I earned money by raising litters of pigs and other animals. I give life on the farm credit for the solid work ethic I have today.

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