Little Learners

Sometimes learning comes easy to us, and other times learning is hard work.  Why is that?  Blame it on our brain structure.  We need some place to anchor our learning - a place to “hang” it in the walk-in-closet of our brain, otherwise it becomes one of those long-forgotten items that fall behind the dresser.  I have experienced this in my own farm learning… Marcel has explained put options and call options in marketing to me at least a half-dozen times.  However, because this isn’t part of my usual farm function it gets lost "behind the dresser".  As a trained teacher and farmer extender, one of my key roles around our farm is education and training for our kids.  There is a lot to learn about a farm operation.

Farming 101:  I love it that the girls recognize all sorts of farm equipment and can talk about soybeans and scratchy stubble.  And, I think this makes Marcel equally happy and proud to be raising two farm girls.  But they didn’t turn into farm girls by accident; I am constantly teaching.  Every time we take a meal to the field, drive to school or play in the yard we are talking about what we see and hear.  So, here are five easy ways to bring the farm to conversation with your kids:

  •  Make a meal together.  Talk about what you are eating and what it is made of. 
  • Read fiction and non-fiction books about farms and farm-life. 
  • Attend local small-town fairs and festivals – many Manitoba festivals are named after fruits, veggies and farm products and have strong ties to agriculture.
  •  Attend a free ag event, like Open Farm Day http://www.openfarmday.ca/
  • Participate in contests, like SAFE Farms Drawing Contest
  •   BONUS ACTIVITY: Watch fun videos! 
    • Peterson Farm Bros for fun music parody videos
      • My favorite – Frieling Farms Harvest 2016.  It’s about the people, not just the equipment…

Back to the closet – hopefully for each of these activities you and your kids can talk about the “hangers”.  How can we connect this farm learning to what we already know?  Clearly, this depends on the age, experience and interest of your kids (or young adults).  Some easy ways to increase connections are:

  • Talk about similarities and differences to your own experiences or situation
  • Connect with more than one sense (smell, texture, sounds)
  • Connect to an emotion, either through memory or empathy

New learning isn’t so much about specifically what we connect new information to, or even how we connect it.  Rather, the key thing is that information gets connected - it needs a rack to hang on.