Are you aware of the educational and developmental benefits of taking your pre-prep child on a farm stay? Farm stays provide the perfect link between play and learning in a natural environment. Taking advantage of this innovative family experience may just provide your child with the boost they need to start school ahead of the herd!
What is a farm stay?
A farm stay is a place where families can live, work and enjoy an authentic rural farm experience. Many farm stays, such as Hosanna Farmstay in Northern NSW, offer a wide range of exciting and challenging activities for all ages to promote the ideals of family togetherness, community and a sense of ‘getting back to basics’.
At any farm stay worth its weight in chicken feed, you’ll find all the authentic farm activities you’d expect – milking cows, tending to animals and learning about paddock to table processes. You’ll also come across a range of tasks available for multiple age and ability levels like swimming, kayaking and cooking.
Why is a farm stay an ideal choice for pre-prep children?
Your child will soon be walking the corridors of their primary school and be called upon to learn in a range of new environments. Selecting a farm stay as an educational family holiday destination means that your child will be exposed to a range of early years’ curriculum areas without even knowing it!
The curriculum areas that farm stays link to are…
1. Children have a strong sense of identity
One of the most elemental parts of the early years learning framework is the idea that, through trial and error and experimentation, children will develop confidence in their learning which will promote a real sense of self. A farm stay is perfect to enhance this area. Your child will be asked and trusted to complete a range of tasks in order to care for animals. Children will have the freedom to roam and move in a safe and natural environment that still involves a certain level of ‘risk,’ which also promotes problem-solving skills.
2. Children are connected with and contribute to their world
We often bemoan the fact that our children seem to be living very indoor lifestyles. A farm stay, therefore, gives them the opportunity to move away from screens and towards nature. At farm stays your little one will get up close and personal with animals, investigate herbs and vegetables from their source, splash in natural waterways and help move cattle down cow tracks. Watch as your child marvels at the impact they can have on the world around them!
3. Children have a strong sense of well-being
Your child will be running, jumping, climbing, rolling and tumbling their way around a beautiful natural environment. They will be responding to instructions from a variety of farm workers, making a difference and contributing to the preparation of meals. These are all experiences that foster confidence, sense of self, sense of community and a strong sense of identity. Plus, think of how delicious those tired cuddles will be at the end of the day in front of a roaring fire! This is a place where your family will be able to renew their connectivity.
4. Children are confident and involved learners
This is the learning outcome where many prep students struggle. Our kids can become very used to having everything done for them. A farm stay is the perfect experience to try and gain back a little of that independence and resilience. We want kids who are willing to try, get involved and to not give up if things don’t work the first time.
5. Children are effective communicators
Communication is not just about speech. It’s also about listening, non-verbal cues and about remembering and being able to interact. A practical environment like a farm stay is the perfect place to hone these skills to help your little one get school-ready. After the farmstay is completed you can ask your child to retell their experience, draw it or re-enact their favourite part – the possibilities are endless!
Farm stay – a healthy, innovative and productive link between home and school
Holidays don’t always have to be the same old unit at the same old beach with the same old activities. Now is the time to start thinking outside the box – how can you engage your pre-school child in educational, exciting activities that will have a lasting impact? Farmstays are the way forward for the thinking parents’ family holiday.
Hosanna is a 100-acre family and dog friendly farm stay just behind the busy coastal strip of Northern NSW, offering accommodation, activities and functions for individuals, families, groups, and schools. For more information visit Hosanna Farm Stay.
This article was published in Issue 21 of our print magazine, April/May 2017.