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Back to School on the Farm

August 2015 | Nebraska | 0 comments

Engelman Family

Living on a farm is a busy lifestyle. Typical days begin before sun-up and end shortly after sun-down. Summer offers flexibility in this 24-7 schedule for dairy farm families. Days are still lengthy, but families enjoy more time for outdoor activities, working together to care for their animals, and family dinners at dinnertime (at least, more often). When August rolls around though, farmers begin preparing their family for a new routine and going back to school.

The Engelman family of Jansen, Neb. have 12-year-old daughter Allison, 9-year-old son Preston, and 6-year-old daughter Sidney to get ready for the school year, along with taking care of their 1,000 dairy cows. Right before school starts, Brooke and her husband squeeze in time to take the kids back-to-school shopping and to doctors’ appointments.

The biggest transition from summer to the school year is how the Engelman family spends their time. During the summer, the kids help out with farm chores. They are in charge of feeding the calves, and participate in 4-H showing calves at the county fair. Transitioning to the school year, the kids rarely get that time to spend outside helping with chores and being with their cows.

“Most of our summer activities happen after 8 p.m. During the school year, the kids have to be in bed by 8 p.m. Bed time is the hardest transition,” says Brooke.

Around the time school starts, the family harvests their corn for silage; a crop large enough to last all year. Brooke knows this means working longer hours. She and her husband coordinate with the farm’s employees, as well as the children’s grandparents and the school, to give equal time to the farm and the kids.

Still, a busy farm schedule doesn’t stop the family from supporting their children’s extracurricular activities. Allison is involved in volleyball, basketball, and Wednesday night youth group; Preston plays football, basketball, and wrestling; and Sidney wants to start gymnastics this year.

Being a parent while helping your child transition between a summer and school year routine can be challenging. Brooke shares her tips for making a smooth transition back to school:

  • Begin a bedtime routine early. About two weeks before school starts, have your child go to bed and wake up as if they are going to school.
  • Start the day with breakfast. “I feel like breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I have breakfast on the table every morning. Some parents don’t have this opportunity. If you’re pressed for time, take advantage of School Breakfast; it’s a cost-effective, nutritious and convenient option for kids,” says Brooke.
  • Be a role model for your child. Eat a nutrient-rich breakfast and snack smart. If you don’t make healthy eating a priority, they won’t either.
  • Stock a mom-approved bowl in the fridge with grab and go nutritious foods, like fresh fruit, yogurt or string cheese. Kids can help themselves in the morning or when they get home.

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