Don’t let school get in the way

A couple years ago, I was helping hold horses while the horseshoer worked on our horse’s feet. He had his 3 kids with him and I asked if they were missing school since it was the middle of the week, late afternoon. What he said next stuck with me.

"I don’t let school get in the way of their learning."

The comment, at first struck me. I wasn’t expecting to hear it honestly. But to me, his statement meant so much more. Kids can learn by actually doing. Learn by being in the real world. They can learn by experience. His kids were learning time management. They had to be at our place at a certain time. They had to be done at a certain time to make the next appointment. They can learn people skills while helping their Dad with customer horses.

I totally get it. Plus they were getting to spend time with their Dad. And coming from a girl who lost her Dad a few years go, I’d give my left arm to get to spend an afternoon with mine.

I wasn’t living by his example until just recently. When the state of Kansas closed all the school buildings on March 17 because of the COVID-19 outbreak—while we were on spring break—I began to realize their school year was essentially over and I was going to be in charge of helping them finish their schoolwork for the 2019-2020 school year.

On March 18 after I finished all my work, I took the boys out in the pasture for what I call a photo walk. I helped the oldest with his photography skills while the other was just content to take a million photos with an old iPhone. It was nice to get out of the house and away from my computer and teach them something, no matter how small it may have been.

In order to save some of my sanity and to get some actual work done, I told my husband he needed to take one of them with him to work. Well I wasn’t nearly that nice, but you get the idea! He takes care of cows for a local farmer in addition to our own cows. He rides every single day and can show them what it truly means to be a caretaker for livestock.

At the end of our oldest’s first day with his dad, both were tired, dirty and wore out—kind of like I’d felt the days before my request for my husband to take one of them with him. But after he sent me a couple photos of Shaun riding, I knew it was a good choice. Not only for my sanity, but for the boys to have the opportunity to spend more quality time with their Dad, and for Shaun to get over his fear of riding.

So if your job is like my husband’s and allows the kids to tag along, find a way to make it work—maybe even when we’re not social distancing. School and learning is still very important, but it’s also important to learn how to work and be productive in the real world. How to get up, get ready and accomplish all the tasks in one day. And how all the things they learn in school apply to real life. Hopefully we can apply more real life experiences to the boys’ education after this pandemic curve flattens out and we find a new normal.

Shaun even came home from his latest day of work with his Dad telling me his Dad’s boss is going to pay him a bonus at the end of the summer if he keeps working. I’m just happy he’s got a better attitude and so do I!

What real life learning are your kids getting to do?