The third grade is often called the turning point of childhood. A time when the age of dream is passing and a new age of realism is beginning to dawn. The nine/ten year old threshold represents a very significant step in self-awareness. Children realize they are separate from their surroundings and meet the world as individuals, often resulting in increased questions, self-doubt and wonder.
At this age, children are very interested in the origin of things. They want to discover new ways of doing things in the world and imagine themselves in very primitive conditions. The practical life is taken up in studies of house building, farming, gardening, cooking and finding out about the jobs people do.
Why Farming in Grade 3
During first and second grades the children are told a series of detailed nature stories that embody the science that they will later be directly exposed to. These nature stories are vivid, illustrative pictures of the processes of plants, animals, and the natural world.
In the third grade, this process is expanded out into an exploration of the natural world of gardening and farming. The children learn to identify grains; become aware of natural cycles, especially in relation to the seasons; make compost; and plant and care for a garden. The farm experience deeply connects the child to the third grade science and geography curriculum. The realization that all we enjoy is derived from the work of others cultivates gratitude and a true understanding of the interconnectedness of our world.
Importance of the overnight farming trip
The farm trip meets the developing nine-year old in many important ways.
For most of the students it was their first extended time away from their family. The nine-year old is developing an individual interior world; for the first time they realize they can have thoughts and experiences that are theirs alone. The experience of farm trip although shared with familiar classmates and teacher, is an individual, personal life experience outside of the family circle. Many of the students expressed surprise at how little they missed their families; they almost felt a little guilty at first, as if their self-sufficiency denied their affection for their families.
When the families arrived to pick up their happy children at the end of the trip, the students were thrilled to reconnect and share their experiences with their parents and siblings. They experienced that separation is not a severing, and that they are able to have individual experiences and still remain connected, even over distance and time, to their loved ones. This foundational experience gives the child the confidence to move out into the ever widening arcs as they mature.
The experience of being at the farm planted seeds of understanding in the hearts and minds of my students. I look forward to watching these seeds sprouts and blossom in the years to come.
Class Teacher for Grade 3, 2018/19