For most children, an introduction to the world of agriculture begins and ends with classic nursery rhymes or stories about farm animals and the occasional trip to the local farm to see, feed or pet them.
But, whilst these kinds of learning opportunities are undoubtedly great fun for kids and their families, they tend to give children a mere snapshot of the many activities, challenges and rewards that a life in agriculture really has to offer.
For some years now, the number of young people aspiring to lead an agricultural lifestyle has been in decline for all sorts of different social and economic reasons, but developing the farmers of the future is vital to this traditional and necessary industry and that begins in childhood.
So how can we teach kids about agriculture in fun and engaging ways that inspire them to want to actively participate in it? Here’s a few ideas:
Modern living disconnects children from the origins of their food, but that can be overcome by helping them to grow their own.
Whether this is done as a school project, in the home garden or at a local allotment, growing anything from root vegetables to seasonal fruits or simple herbs can help children understand where their food comes from.
As part of an initiative to help ‘inspire and introduce children to the joys & benefits of gardening’, Heirloom & Perennial are currently offering three packets of easy-to-grow flower, herb and vegetable seeds to children for free! Simply order yours online.
Reading stories to children or, if they’re old enough, helping them make up their own to tell others is a great way to bring the agricultural world to life.
Amazon currently provide a list of the ‘Top 100 Children’s Farming and Agriculture Books’ as ranked by sales and user reviews, which go way beyond the typical stories about tractors and animals.
You’ll find books about the seasons, dairy farming, bees and insects, farm machinery, horticulture and many other topics that are suitable for children of all ages.
Children learn most effectively through play, so toys are an ideal way to introduce them not only to animals and tractors, but other kinds of heavy machinery that are essential for all sorts of modern agricultural practices.
The Bruder range of farm toys includes a wide range of colourful and most importantly, authentic playthings such as the Bruder tractor, that can teach children about everything from transporting farm materials and livestock, to harvesting crops and baling hay.
Go and See!
Most children live in busy urban areas, but regardless of which city or town they call home, the great British countryside is never that far away.
Pack a picnic and take a trip out of the city to explore some of the countryside on foot. There are thousands of miles of walking routes around farm and woodland to explore, and Natural England has built up a national network of working farms that are open to everyone for educational visits.
Simply visit the Natural England website, find a farm in your area and call the farmer to arrange a visit.
Apart from a picnic, make sure you take a camera, wellies, some bug catching nets, and pens and paper to record your agricultural adventures.
There’s a whole agricultural world for little ones to explore, so get out there and have fun learning!