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Harvesting and Homeschooling

Today I plan to freeze tomatoes, pick raspberries, and dry lemon balm—in the car of all places(!), something I learned from Traditional Cooking’s Dehydrating course.  We also need to clean up windfall apples in our little apple orchard and, on top of that, there is schoolwork to do.

This is a problem, because it is just too much for one day.

Harvesting is important, homeschooling is important, and a day has only 24 hours.  As I said, this is a problem, a big one that I addressed recently at the Curriculum Choice:

We have gardened seriously for about fifteen years, and serious gardening leads to serious harvesting, something that usually happens during the first weeks of the traditional school year.

Each year this bothers me.  I hate to interrupt the beginning of formal learning just to make sauerkraut or salsa, or to dry herbs, or to freeze produce

So each year I remind myself that harvesting is a learning activity, too.  Our children need to know how to gather food, ideally for themselves and their future families, but also for a knowledge of where food comes from and how people in history lived.  As a culture we are distancing ourselves from the very basics of life—like food production, useful physical activity, and an awareness of nature— and as homeschoolers we can address that by participating in the harvest, whether from our own gardens, from local orchards, from farmers’ markets, or from seasonal produce in the grocery store.  

Over the years I’ve learned that the harvesting is itself the curriculum.  It involves learning, skills, and even creativity, such as when my daughter discovered a better way to pit plums for jam and sauce.  Of course, we start the year’s math, science, Bible, and literature as well, but by changing my mindset and acknowledging the educational value of this hands-on work, I can be at peace in the midst of the flurry.

So, school is not closed for the harvest.  The harvest is part of school.

With both girls nearing the end of high school, there is a lot of schoolwork to be done.  This year I try to minimize their harvest involvement to just enough for learning, but that is not always possible.  So they pick and peel and dry and slice. What’s more, they watch me try to juggle it all gratefully and calmly, accepting that there is enough time to do what God has given me to do, asking for his help, and thanking him for his bountiful goodness.

And perhaps these lessons are more important than things in books.

For more ideas about homeschooling in harvest season, including field trip ideas and resources, check out “The Harvest Homeschool” at the Curriculum Choice.

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This article may be linked to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

One Comment

  1. WOOOOWWW!!!! That is a glorious amount of tomatoes.

    I pray that I can also “juggle gratefully.” If that is all I can model for my kids – thankful willingness in whatever circumstance – it will be enough.

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