If you follow a September through June school schedule like our family does, then you are getting ready to finish your school year. As things wind down in our home, other things wind up. Time in the garden replaces time in the “classroom,” and days become more carefree. Speaking of gardening, we have used this activity several times in our homeschool over the years. It has always been a passion of mine, sparked by my mother. She is an avid gardener, and has always chatted with me about plants and gardening. It has become a common interest and a way to bond. I can remember walking with her through garden departments at stores when I was young, and looking at the plants that were for sale there. She would quiz me about the common names of the plants and whether they required sun or shade. It was a fun little game that may have been intended to just keep me busy while she browsed.
When my children were young, I had hoped to spark the same interest in them about gardening my mom sparked in me. That didn’t happen, but I tried. We planted peas in pots and measured their growth. We kept track of the growth by creating a table and then plotted the results on a graph. When we studied early American history and Native Americans, we completed another gardening project; it was a “three sisters” garden. We planted corn, beans, and squash in mounds. Just getting the kids outside to clear an area and make the mounds of dirt was fun. They were not super interested in the gardening aspect, but they did like to see the growth and seemed to appreciate the fact they had created something. We have harvested potatoes, picked strawberries and blueberries, and traveled to an orchard several times to pick apples and cherries. Each time, I tried to instill a sense of enthusiasm about the wonders of gardening.
As my children have grown, they have become less interested in gardening, although my oldest son chose to study botany a few years back as his science course. This was a nice surprise to me, and I tried my best to control my enthusiasm so as not to dissuade him. I don’t think the course resulted in any new gardening interest for him, but he did learn some things. I continue to garden and make sure to tell the kids all about what I’m doing, even if they don’t seem the least bit interested. Gardening is just part of who I am, and by sharing my interests I am encouraging my children to share their own. I am blessed that they do share them, too. Sometimes, I honestly have absolutely no idea what they are talking about! However, I try my best to understand, and all the while I thank God they are sharing with me. I love that they share their interests, and that I can share my interests with them. Maybe gardening isn’t your thing. Whatever your interests are, share them with your children and create that atmosphere of sharing. Your kids are important, and by listening to what is important to them, you show them you care. Whether you take the summer off or not, I wish you a season full of growth, love, and lots of sharing in your homeschool.
Heidi Kinney is a freelance writer and editor. Her background includes professional teaching in the area of mathematics, as well as writing and editing for several educational publishers. She has been homeschooling her children since 2007. She shares homeschool resources and lessons on her website, SharedLessons.org.