Leah and her husband, Lincoln have six children ranging from 4 months old to 9 years old. They have a family farm, where they raise a variety of animals, including poultry, pigs and beef cattle. They also have a family milk cow. Leah has been homeschooling for four years and has enjoyed the quality time that she gets to spend raising and discipling her kids. You can find her on Instagram (@littlefarmhouseonfelton) to follow along with their life on the farm.
What led you to homeschooling?
When our oldest was a toddler, I sent her to a daycare playgroup 1-2 mornings/week at the private school that my husband taught at. I thought it would be good for her to “socialize” plus I thought I would enjoy the break it gave me.
In reality, it was more of a challenge to get her out the door in the morning and the variety of unpleasant behaviors and illnesses she brought home added a whole new dimension to our parenting. The biggest surprise was how much I missed her. She was only there for two hours, but it felt so unnatural to hand my child off to another caregiver.
God began working on my heart that year and I felt a pull toward the idea of homeschooling. She was only 2 years old at the time, but I continued to pray about this option and started researching. The following year, I started to do a preschool “curriculum” with her and we haven’t looked back! I truly believe that God did not bless us with our kids, just to allow us to raise them for five years and then send them off to be taught by someone else.
Did you and your husband plan to homeschool?
No. I went to a private christian school and swore that I would not send my kids to a private school. I had initially planned to send them to public school, but when we began having children, Lincoln was teaching at a private christian school, so we decided to send our kids there.
As our kids grew, I didn’t feel comfortable with sending our kids away to school. I felt called as a mom to spend time teaching them, not just academics, but biblical training, character building and life skills.
What are some benefits to homeschooling that you didn’t expect?
There are so many benefits!! One of my favorite things is that I have the privilege of learning with them! I get to learn new things or re-learn a lot of things that I had forgotten from my school years. I also enjoy reading books with them. Much of our school day includes reading together and we have enjoyed many adventures that way.
I also love watching each of our kids grow and reach new milestones. I love seeing them blossom as they work through something difficult and master that skill. I love listening to them play together. Sometimes this includes fighting, but this provides an opportunity to teach our kids how to properly resolve conflict.
Another unexpected benefit is that my character is constantly being refined. God uses moments from our day to shape me into someone who acts more like Him. He has used homeschooling to teach me to be more patient. I have learned to speak softly and respond calmly, when everything in me wants to raise my voice. Do I mess up? Absolutely. But in those moments, God teaches me to humble myself, apologize and ask for forgiveness. The added benefit to these refining moments, is that our kids see me modeling what repentance should look like.
How do you push through on the hard days?
On the hard days, I step back and evaluate what is the priority that day. Is it my job to just get the bookwork done? Or is it more important for me to focus on my children’s hearts? Is their behavior a reflection of a need for some focused time from mom?
Some days, we just push through by checking off the boxes. Some days, we dangle a carrot… “Let’s work through this list and then we’ll do _____.” But more often than not, we take a step back from the books and spend time doing something fun or getting some things done around the farm.
How do you homeschool with infants/toddlers in tow?
Some days just look chaotic and thats just the reality of homeschooling with toddlers and infants in the home. Many days, I have a baby on my lap and a toddler on the table, but you know what? They are benefiting from being in the room, listening to what we are discussing.
Also, snacks. Snacks help a ton. When a toddler’s hands are busy and her mouth is full, she won’t be making as much noise or getting into trouble.
Favorite curriculum and why?
We have been using Gather Round, which is a Charlotte Mason inspired unit study. I love that this curriculum is written for all age levels, so I can cover the same topic but have workbooks that are appropriate for all of my learners.
We also pull our reading from Ambleside Online. We highly value good quality books (nothing fluffy, please!) and the list provided by Ambleside is an excellent resource.
Homeschooling on the Farm
If I had to label our homeschooling style, I would call it “Farm Schooling”. We highly value all of the core classes, but we also recognize the beauty in learning beyond what can be covered in a book.
Many aspects of farming can be turned into a lesson. Have you ever tried to count dozens of wandering chickens? Easier said then done!
Each animal we raise, provides an opportunity for learning – anatomy, what food it can and should eat, behaviors, life cycle, purpose, etc.
Our kids have have been able to watch chicks hatching and a calf being born. Both of these events have prompted discussions about reproduction and the growth and gestation of each animal. These moments are priceless and ones that will be engrained in their memories for a lifetime.
In addition to learning these things, farming teaches our kids about responsibility. They participate in the care of our animals each day and have learned that even on days that we “just don’t feel like doing it”, we still need to go outside and feed and care for the animals.
They have also learned about working diligently. We work together as a team and our kids know that if they work diligently, our work can get done faster and then we can relax and play.
We also focus a lot on teaching our kids life skills. That looks like including our kids in the daily activities that are necessary for maintaining a home – laundry, cleaning, dishes, baking and cooking.
Each of our kids help us prepare and preserve food via canning, dehydrating or freezing. They also help with some of the cooking and baking – learning how to make simple meals or snacks, as well as baking bread.
We have also introduced them to basic finances that are involved in farming. As our kids get older, we will include farm finances (budgeting, expenses, profit/loss) in their schooling.
Benefits of Farm Life for Kids
Our kids also get to reap the benefits of farming. We all enjoy a highly nutritious diet that tastes even better because we grew it in the garden or raised it on our pastures.
Our kids also have had opportunities to earn money. They have been paid for the eggs that they sell or the animals that they helped us raise. This teaches them money management skills and they recognize that hard work is not only satisfying, but it literally pays off.
Farming is not for everyone, but I do believe that everyone can enjoy some element of this lifestyle and include it in their homeschooling.
Here are some ideas:
1. Start by having a garden. Teach your kids about how plants start from a seed. Keep records about how your plants are growing.
2. Conduct experiments and “water” some plants with various liquids, then hypothesize about which plant will thrive.
3. Have a taste testing day, where you try out the vegetables that you are growing and write a journal entry about it.
4. Get some backyard chickens. Have your little ones draw pictures of chickens while you read to them about how a chicken lives and what it likes to eat.
5. Visit a local farm and learn about what it takes to properly raise the animals that fill your freezer.
Want to see more from Leah? You can find her on Instagram (@littlefarmhouseonfelton) to follow along with their life on the farm.
If you like Leah’s story, comment below to let her know how her story encouraged you!
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Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!