Learning How To Learn

Consider 4-H as a place for disabled youth to flourish

I was introduced to 4-H three years ago. My youngest son had a classmate who was in the local 4-H poultry club and he was very interested in checking it out. At first I was concerned that this was going to be my headache. His friend gave him 10 eggs and let us borrow an incubator. He told us not to get our hopes up as it would be very likely that less than half of the eggs will be fertilized and hatch. And I have to say in the beginning I was hoping that this would be the case.

I watched as my son became the caretaker for these eggs. Rotating them daily. Using the candle method (with a flashlight) to see if indeed there was growth inside. And to my surprise, 9 of the 10 eggs hatched. Even his friend was surprised.

Then I watched as my son built a brooder box out of cardboard; set it up with a heat lamp and took care of 9 chicks to prepare them for the chicken coop he and I built together to house these chickens in.

As this was all taking place, my son then began his involvement in 4-H. He attended meetings and wanted to attend them. He wanted attend lectures and really began to get involved. He participated in outings with the club and made acquaintances with peers that I know he would not otherwise have been involved with.

The club is was very welcoming. The 4-H project that has to be done by the end of the 4-H fair season is a “go at your own pace” kind of affair. The work is all hands on. As I watched my son thrive in this environment, I realized that this is the kind of classroom that my son needs to succeed. This is the learning environment that my son can achieve goals in. I think without trying, 4-H is a place that youth with disabilities can flourish.

Perhaps extra-curricular activities at school are not something that your child has been able to find a niche in. 4-H may be the answer. And if this is a child that is headed to a post-secondary setting, then 4-H may be just the addition needed to add a littler diversity to that college application. This is worth looking into. It made a world of difference to my son and there are many different types of 4-H clubs to join and many types of animals to explore. Click here to find out more about the 4-H Club.


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