On-the-Job Schooling Example: Kids at a Cement Pour

"Floating" the New Cement Pour

Construction Related Field Trips Are a Regular Part of Our Schooling

My husband and I have worked in sheet metal construction together for seven years. This meant that our children have been raised in an atmosphere of hard work, and also that a combination of homeschooling and unschooling works very well for us. For those of you who may be contemplating such a move, I thought a peek into our lives would be helpful. I took some snapshots of the kids at a cement pour jobsite a couple of years ago (2009), and will be sharing these in this article.

Our goal is to create a sense of confidence and a can-do attitude in our children, so that no matter what they face in life, or what field they wind up working in, they'll have a better-than-average chance of success. Hard work won't solve everything, but knowing how to do many kinds of things can mean the difference between a ho-hum job and a life full of aspirations and worthwhile goals and dreams. I know you want this same confidence for your children, and we would love to hear your success stories (Comments Section is open, below).

We know there are many good ways of supplying children with an excellent education; this, mixed with consistent - and more formal - periods of intellectual learning, is what fits our lifestyle best.

About the Featured Jobsite

This was a fairly typical spring day for the kids. That is, my husband and I had been working on a site on an old farmstead for a few weeks. An older couple had bought the farm, with plans to run it hand-in-hand with their new son-in-law, who made his living raising Black Angus cattle. The place had been empty for some years, and, while the fields for growing crops were fine, the yards and windbreak were a mess. The first thing the couple did was to clear away all the dead brush and the fallen-down outbuildings, and construct a lovely new brick house. Then they planned the shop, and corrals. The shop/storage building is the one featured in this article. We built it from the ground up, and were on the tail-end of the job when I took these photos.

The kids have been accustomed from infancy to heavy machinery, heavy jobs, and discipline, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. They know how to mind, and how to either keep out of the way, or help on a jobsite, according to the needs.

Pouring the Cement

For starters, the kids were instructed to stay on the sidelines, and just observe. That is a power cement trowel next to them. The building had been partially floored on a previous day.
For starters, the kids were instructed to stay on the sidelines, and just observe. That is a power cement trowel next to them. The building had been partially floored on a previous day.
They see how the chute sections are put in place, and how the truck is backed toward the far interior of the building. They know that a good truck driver is worth a lot, and have seen the messy results of some poor ones.
They see how the chute sections are put in place, and how the truck is backed toward the far interior of the building. They know that a good truck driver is worth a lot, and have seen the messy results of some poor ones.
The pour is started in the back of the building. My husband helps direct the flow of cement, keeping it well within the appropriate section.
The pour is started in the back of the building. My husband helps direct the flow of cement, keeping it well within the appropriate section.
we had covered over the window nearest the chute with a piece of sheet metal, in case of accidents. That is a power screed lying across the section.
we had covered over the window nearest the chute with a piece of sheet metal, in case of accidents. That is a power screed lying across the section.
My husband and his co-worker use drags to help apportion and smooth out the cement.
My husband and his co-worker use drags to help apportion and smooth out the cement.

Using the Power Screed

The men don't have to use a whole lot of their own power with this screed, as it is a power screed. But they do need to be watchful and consistent, or the cement may wind up slightly humpy.
The men don't have to use a whole lot of their own power with this screed, as it is a power screed. But they do need to be watchful and consistent, or the cement may wind up slightly humpy.
They go over the pad several times, giving more attention to some places than others. Holes or dips are filled in with shovels or a drag.
They go over the pad several times, giving more attention to some places than others. Holes or dips are filled in with shovels or a drag.

Cleaning the Equipment

Billy enjoyes watching how everything is hosed clean...
Billy enjoyes watching how everything is hosed clean...
...then each of the chute sections is put in its appropriate place on the sides of the truck.
...then each of the chute sections is put in its appropriate place on the sides of the truck.
Attention to detail is very important, and this truck driver is very thorough in his cleaning method.
Attention to detail is very important, and this truck driver is very thorough in his cleaning method.

Hands-On Work Builds Confidence, Which Spreads to Other Jobs and Opportunities

The children didn't learn everything there is to know about pouring cement, nor did they get to get their hands dirty on this job. But they did learn a fair amount. Billy still talks about this pour, and the good time he had watching the truck and learning about the different parts. Dennis, the driver, was willing to answer his questions and show him how things worked.

On another day, Billy got to try his hand at troweling cement, and learned how careful he must be while washing the tools. My daughter just enjoyed running the length of the building, jumping the forms and shrieking...after this section of the pour was done. She will most likely have other opportunities to "help" with cement, and at that time will probably want to do all she can. In fact, she has helped her daddy do a couple small pours around the home, and is very proud of her skills.

Even if neither of the kids gets into construction as adults, they will have the confidence that they can learn, and do things well...whatever they choose to do.

Please Add Your Experience About Hands-On Schooling (Comments Section Below is Always Open)

What is Your Experience with Unschooling?

  • Unschooling is our primary "method".
  • Our homeschooling ideals are more structured.
  • I don't know much about unschooling or homeschooling.
See results without voting

Extra-Curricular LEGO Truck Activity

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Comments 7 comments

WildIris 5 years ago

Aw...no hand prints in the concrete? My kids loved concrete day. With the left-over mud from a pour we made stepping stones with hand prints, names and dates. 20 years later it is kinda cool to look down at one of these stones. When my sons got older we taught them how to mix stucco by hand in a concrete boat, then haul buckets up scaffolding.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States Author

WildIris,

We do not let the kids leave handprints and dates in customers' concrete. However, they have left their marks in several other, less "professional" pours around our area. The leftover concrete (of which there wasn't much) went for other little projects around the farmstead in the article.

I think it's neat that you taught your boys how to work. We, too, have done several projects "the hard way", with buckets, wheelbarrow, etc. Memories get made either way.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

I loved every stage and every photo! Wonderful stuff and you are obviously such good parents to teach in such a practical and enjoyable manner :-)


De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

I wrote such a long comment on this and then it disappeared for some reason - anyway, I loved this :-))


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States Author

De Greek,

Thanks for reading! You are one of my favorite HP people.

Contrary to your compliment, I often feel like a cruddy parent, but all things taken together, I wouldn't trade parenting for the world.


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 5 years ago from Northern California

CUTE/loved the photos!


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

This is a great way to teach. My husband used to take our Jason, who was old enough to work along with him, to our condos to learn to lay floors, do minor repairs, etc. We were homeschooling him, and he was in the midst of a project where he was drawing what he observed at the construction sites near us, and would have then written the explanations, had he lived long enough. He used to visit one site about three blocks away almost every morning around 6 so he could talk to the workers as they gathered for coffee before they started their work day. Some even let him hammer a few nails with them before the foreman found out and put a stop to it. He was 14 when he took a jet ski ride to heaven, but that's another story I've told elsewhere.

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