The Amish traditionally have large families with lots of children under foot. They work as a family unit while keeping up their farms, livelihoods, and homes. Children learn from a young age how to do household and farm chores and are expected to help.
Their children don’t have video games, televisions, or iPods to keep them occupied. They’re busy tending their home, crops, and livestock. And I believe that they might have the better childhood when comparing most of mainstream society’s children.
As far back as I can remember, every spring we hauled out the rototiller and began preparing the garden for planting. I grew up learning from both my parents the ins and outs of gardening, each year taking on new tasks and responsibilities. When my own children were born, I passed on this tradition.
Depending upon the age of your children, I’ve gleaned a few tips to make your time with them in the garden productive and meaningful.
- Mark the rows. Mark your rows clearly when you’re planting so little feet (and big) don’t step on the newly-planted seed. A great indoor project is to have the kids make the row markers ahead of time. It can be as simple as writing in permanent marker on wooden stakes or have them color and write out cards that you then have laminated. My parents used to put the empty seed packet upside down on the stake.
- Create an assembly line. We plant our garden in one day, so to keep things orderly and manage our time, we create an assembly line. My husband maps out the rows. He uses a long piece of pipe and presses it into the dirt, leaving an indent for the seeds and a straight line. I poke holes the appropriate deepness for each seed and have each child drop a seed into the hole (on their own row). I go behind them and cover the seed as they’re planting. Older children can cover the seeds as well.
- Give toddlers their own section. When my daughter was one and two years old, we gave her a small corner of the garden as her own. We let her plant her seeds in this section by herself. During weeding, she was free to weed her own plot. (I didn’t have to worry about her weeding my vegetables by mistake.) At harvest time, she picked her own beans, and I didn’t worry about her pulling the plant off the pole or uprooting it.
- Bible lessons. Use this time to explain some of the parables in the Bible. Children learn best from visual and hands on. My favorite is the parable of the sower in Mark 4:3. “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plant, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.”
We chose the very best place for our garden; we water it, weed it, and help the plants grow. And just like we take care of our plants, God takes care of us.
Jesus placed us in our family and it’s our job to make sure we help one another to grow. http://clicktotweet.me/q5IC6bxN
For more tips on gardening, Melissa has a free ebook Heirloom Gardening Guide—Plant to Save Money, for her newsletter subscribers.
About the Author
Melissa K. Norris—inspiring your faith and pioneer roots. Melissa is a Christian novelist, newspaper columnist, and non-fiction writer. Her new book, Pioneering Today-Faith and Home the Old Fashioned Way, explains practical and easy methods to cook from scratch, garden, preserve your own food, and see God’s fingerprint in your everyday busy life. Her blog offers tutorials and articles on the Amish lifestyle for those of us in the modern world.