Kim Baldwin, McPherson County farmer and rancher
It’s that time of the year again when summertime store displays change, and parents begin filling shopping carts with glue bottles, wide-ruled paper, crayon boxes, flashy backpacks, trendy lunch boxes and a variety of specific items on school supply shopping lists.
In a nutshell, it’s back-to-school time!
For the past few weeks my husband and I have been planting little messages into our conversations with our kiddos to begin building excitement for the new school year.
Statements like, “I’m so excited you already know some of the kids in your class,” and, “I bet they’re going to have chocolate milk as an option during lunch again this year,” are ways we try to hype up the kids for a new school year.
We know that preparing our kids for a change in their schedules is ultimately helpful for the entire family.
While driving home from swim lessons recently, my son and I were reflecting on all of the fun this summer brought. From visiting local libraries and museums with the babysitter, road trips taken out of the state with grandparents, eating meals in the field with our harvest crew, swim time at the community pool, and freedom to do kid things on the farm, both of my children have had a memorable summer.
It was during this drive that my son said, “I don’t want to go back to school!”
It wasn’t one of those statements that sometimes falls out of a child’s mouth before fully thinking things through. This was delivered in a clear, matter-of-fact manner.
He repeated, “I DO NOT want to go back to school!”
As a former teacher, I was a bit taken aback.
Upon further questioning, my son confessed he didn’t want to go back to school because he didn’t want to miss anything going on at the farm.
Don’t get me wrong, my boy loves school. He loves learning and crafts and friends and lunch and recess and PE and chocolate milk and his teachers.
He also loves being home on the farm. He loves helping his daddy with irrigation duties, eating meals with everyone in the field, riding in tractors, playing with his pups and digging in the dirt.
It was clearly a difficult situation he had found himself in. It is this summer where my son’s understanding of the world has matured enough to know that when he heads back to school later this month, the day-to-day operations on the farm will not stop while he’s gone.
Although I’m a bit sad my boy is experiencing this internal turmoil, I’m also proud to know he takes his place on the farm seriously, and he feels like he has an important role within our family’s operation.
My husband and I have now had to modify our messaging approach to build the excitement for returning to school. And while we still mention the probability of chocolate milk as an option that will be served at lunch, we’re now also mentioning that going to school and getting a good education will ultimately help the farm — especially if our boy wants to farm full-time someday.
Time will tell if our family’s transition back to school will be a smooth one this year. Either way, we’ll continue to build excitement and support the value of learning which will ultimately benefit our family and our farm.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service