The ABCs of Homeschooling - Letter F

   Today's blog is about more than a letter.It is also about a number.  4H is the subject; specifically how 4H can be advantageous to homeschoolers. 4H is a program of the cooperative extension program.  The letter H  stands for head, heart, hands, and health, thus, 4H. It is not a Christian program, but it is very family friendly, allowing you to attend any and all meetings.
   4H offers a diverse array of possibilities.  While animal husbandry is at the core of many of the electives, even those who don't have, or can't have, animals, have other options.
   My oldest daughter, Tabitha, learned how to decorate cakes in 4H.  Two of my other kids did, as well, but it only "stuck" with her.  She is very crafty.  Just this past month we attended a birthday party at her house for my grandson. As usual, she made a cake that rivals a professionally made one.
  Four of our kids took ceramics.  My son, Benjamin, has a cowboy that he made, sitting on the hutch in their dining room.  My neighbor, Bonnie, has a ceramic cat made by one of my kids.  We have Pilgrims and a frog, here. I think my parents have a piece or two. In addition to enjoying their handiwork at home, my kids sometimes used their efforts as presents.
  Tabitha and Rachel learned macrame.  Rachel was actually too young to start, but Tabitha's teacher was kind enough to include her as well; something I never expected.  She had just gone along to watch.  But Rachel is very gifted at learning, and so she was able to start early.  One thing that sticks out in my mind is a flag rug that she made.  It was never used as such, but it was very attractive.
  Benjamin, Rachel, Andrew, Elizabeth, and Rebekah were in Beefmasters.  Every year, they would buy a newborn calf from a local farmer.  Then they would raise it until September, when they would show them at the Beaver Fair.  The week of the fair, they would have to travel to the fair grounds morning and evening  - quite a hike.  A tradition was started of stopping for cappuccino at a nearby quick stop market during the morning trip.
   One year, poor Rachel lost two calves.  The third one was the charm, but I doubt it made weight. And speaking of weight, Elizabeth once earned a large blue ribbon for the most weight gain and then was unable to sell it at the 4H sale because it was overweight.  I never did understand that!
   Andrew became rather the expert at our house for judging calves. One year, he traveled to Penn State to enter a competition for judging.  He did quite well.  He also became the resident expert on rabbits, as he, Elizabeth, and Rebekah joined the rabbit club.  Rebekah was only old enough to be a Cloverbud, something that is an "extra" not all clubs have.  For awhile, the three raised meat rabbits for sale, but their buyer lost connections or something and they eventually became pets. For me, the rabbit club became a nuisance.  Apparently, for some of the members, it was the center of their world, but it was low on our totem pole, and I had to tell them so. We just didn't mesh very well with this club.
   Another popular activity at our house was shooting sports.  Two of our sons took 22 and even some of the girls joined in for air rifle (a separate group).  When shooting air rifle, the kids seemed to do better when shooting at balloons or "little animals" than bullseye targets.
   All of the various projects required bookwork, a speech, posters, and such.  When our kids became high school age and a speech was required for their diploma programs, this came in handy.  They also learned protocol in regards to Robert's Rule of Orders.
   4H greatly enriched our children's education.  Some became officers of clubs and got to practice leadership.  All of them were exposed to teachers other than myself and Sunday School teachers.  I believe we do our kids a disservice if we are the only teachers in their lives.  4H gave an opportunity to stretch and grow, explore beyond academics, and learn life skills. It was time and money well spent.


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