My third season, holding Farm School on our sheep farm at Orton Bradley Park has come to a close. This spring term was rewritten by Katie and me – it was important to us to keep the variety of ages, and being aware of differing needs from returning versus new participating children.
This term we focused on a very flexible order of Farm School sessions to create as many opportunities where the children can meet and learn from our farming men as well. Each of them presenting their passion, strength or skill to spark the children’s interest in learning: Tom had shorn the sheep, Tim drilled the paddocks with the tractor, Bruce taught how to repair a fence and Durk connected new waterpipes for sheep to drink from troughs.
As I returned to learning full-time this year, I enjoy the opportunity to be a student at ARA while being the mentor at Bush Farm School. It allows me to compare myself to other tutors and grows my understanding of a thriving learning environment. I strongly believe that we learn better from people who we have a connection with. Knowing a little about the personality of the student or teacher supports the feeling of belonging and strengthens the will to give your best. Therefore, at Bush Farm School we started encouraging children to share something of their week during gratitude circle; and we continue answering any questions about us personally that the young curious minds ponder about.
With the greater number of children in this term, it became more obvious to me how some children prefer sharing their lows and highs with Katie while others are feeling safe through my company. I enjoyed this term observing and guiding the younger six children’s conversations while facing the weekly challenge of drawing on a shared journal.
My highlight about the children in this term was their bonding day with the farm dogs while learning about the dogs’ personalities and how to train them.
My highlight of the program is the engagement of the parents – feeling the commitment to giving something back to us, the farmers, by shovelling sheep poo underneath the woolshed despite the smell of dust. This team atmosphere will shape the next generation. I look forward to the next Bush Farm School program on our farm.
Written by Stella Bauer (December 2020)