Farms often require every member of the family to help out in order to sustain them. Helping out on a farm also helps every member of the family feel like they are a vital part of the family business and can help them develop responsibility and a strong work ethic.
Just as kids can help feed the family dog or cat, farm kids can help out by feeding farm animals. They can give feed, straw, oats or leftovers to a variety of animals, when appropriate. They can also provide water to them.
According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, children raised around animals may be more likely to be healthy, compared to kids not raised around animals. Kids may receive a boost to their immune system when they complete tasks in close proximity to animals, such as combing a horse, washing the animals or shearing a sheep's wool.
Children are often full of energy and farm families may want to tap into this resource by having children go from stall to stall or field to field to collect and gather farm resources. They can collect eggs from the chicken house, pick fruit from trees and collect herbs from the garden.
Even young children can help out in the farm by completing small tasks. For example, they can use plastic gardening tools to dig in dirt and to plant seeds. They can water plants and move them to different areas to get proper shading. Older kids can remove weeds and cut weeds with hoes.
Although farms provide a sustainable lifestyle for the family, at the heart of the matter farms are businesses. Literate kids can help keep records pertinent to the farm. For example, kids may be able to keep barn records or record an inventory of supplies. They can also keep records pertaining to any bartering done with neighboring farms.
Farms can be dangerous to kids if the proper precautions are not taken. Young kids should not be permitted to operate motorized vehicles or power tools without adult supervision. Miguel Saviroff, an agent with Penn State Extension in Somerset, says that children should only be given tasks that match their age and capabilities. If kids will be working around animals, teach them not to approach them when they are eating or when they may act aggressive in an attempt to protect their young. Be sure to properly label any chemicals that kids will be in contact with and keep poisonous substances out of young kids' reach. Frank Gasperini of the National Council of Agricultural Employers warns parents to be watchful of kids who are working in the heat because they can be more susceptible to developing heat-related conditions than adults.
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