The topic of education is near and dear to my heart. I am a father to three children, and I feel that parents should be, and usually are, the most dedicated and passionate individuals when it comes to the education of their children. I’ve made a career out of being an educator. I’ve taught students at varying levels (from elementary all the way up to the graduate level), and I’ve taught numerous children, including my own. It is something I take very seriously, and I think at minimum should be a mental exercise for all readers of this blog.
When I think about what parents need to know in laying the educational foundation for their children in a SHTF scenario, I think that with a few recommendations, it can be done with little financial cost and some pre-planning. I’m not sure how many people have logically thought through what they would do in such a difficult situation, but the good news is that there is still time to do so! Don’t let this critical area be passed by when looking at your whole preparation plan.
Disclaimer: It is no secret to those that know me– I’m a huge advocate for homeschooling and favor it over a public school education. Nationally, there are roughly two million children that are educated at home currently, and the numbers are quickly rising. I think that for many children, home education is the best type of education they can receive. If you look at the research on the topic, it is amazing how well these students, as a whole, perform! Do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes to search the Internet tonight with the keywords “homeschooling research”.
Now, on to the task at hand. How do you educate your children in a SHTF scenario? I think it is best to begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself this question: What is it that you want to accomplish in educating your children? I think a mission statement will clarify your goals and give you a reminder of why you chose to educate your children.
Here is our mission statement for our home education program:
We believe that our faith in Christ permeates every aspect of our life. We believe the bible calls us to be the first educators of our children and our way of fulfilling that calling is through home education. We believe that we are life-long learners, as it is written in Proverbs 16:16, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” We believe that as parents, we should always have the heart of an educator and learning should be interesting and engaging. We believe that our children have been equipped by their Creator with unique talents, skills and abilities. We believe by homeschooling we have the wonderful opportunity to daily support and guide our children towards a more full understanding of God’s call in their life.
Once you have taken time as a family to formulate a mission statement with your goals, you can begin building your home library. A home library for your children does not have to be large, extravagant, new, or even pricey. Most of the books I purchase are at least 50 years old. I would begin by setting aside $25 to fund your home library. The vast majority of my purchases for our home library come from garage/estate/rummage sales. It is amazing what people sell inexpensively at these sales. Often times, at the sale, I have found a box with some old books priced around “4 for $1” or even at times they can be found in a box labeled “free”. Make it a goal to see how many books you can acquire for $25. See if you can get to 100 books for that price!
So, what items do I recommend for the home library? There are some books that you probably have in your house. As a Christian family, we use the bible as a teaching tool. There is so much you can learn in this book, as it is filled with practical wisdom, age-old advice, and guidance on so many areas of our lives. In addition, I have found a concordance greatly helpful. From there, you may want to pick up a dictionary, an older encyclopedia set, and some maps. Our family loves all sorts of maps (world, national, state, et cetera). We put maps and other educational materials under a clear, plastic table protector, so we can look at them on the table during mealtimes. Our state even offers a free state-wide atlas (through our Game, Fish, and Parks Service) that shows the whole state. It had 98 pages filled with lots of useful information, including every road, lake, city, and more.
The rest of the home library would be books tailored to your children, based upon their age, gender, interest, and so forth. I will include a general reading list for both boys and girls. The two lists have a focus on the main character being a boy/girl who is smart, adventurous, and fearless. In addition, these books are great for your children’s imagination. I think fostering a child’s imagination is priceless. A child’s imagination can take them from their reality (sometimes sad, difficult, and worrisome) and transport them into the story that is very different (often exciting, intriguing, and filled with wonder). Especially in a SHTF scenario, having your children be able to take time each day to use their imagination and be transported to a safe, fun, and exciting place can be invaluable. Plus, this daily exercise can really do wonders for a child’s emotional well-being.
My general reading list for girls would include:
- The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett;
- The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum;
- The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes;
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery;
- Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin;
- The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder;
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White;
- Ramona by Beverly Cleary;
- Matilda by Rolad Dahl;
- Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers;
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri; and
- Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren.
My general reading list for boys would include:
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson;
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain;
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen;
- Boy Scout Handbook, 1st Edition;
- Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis;
- Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder;
- Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling;
- The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B White;
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl;
- Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon;
- The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo;
- The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien;
- Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry;
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson; and
- Call of the Wild by Jack London.
Once you have a good start with your home library, what can you do now to begin educating your children? In a true SHTF scenario, most likely you won’t have all the technological distractions of today to compete with. So in a very small way, you can create the scenario. Every night for 20-30 minutes have a rule that there is no tv, cell phone, computer, et cetera, and as a family make time for reading. As a parent read to all your children, or let them each read their own book during this time.
Second, take time to help your children further their interests. Help them find out what topics they enjoy learning. As readers of this blog, we know how important it is to continue to learn new skills and abilities. When we as parents show interest and excitement in an area a child wants to learn about, it shows them that the topic is important and that they should continue to learn more about the subject. Maybe they want to learn how to repair an engine, fish, make candles, bake, or construct a tree fort. Maybe they enjoy learning about chemical reactions, identifying different types of birds, or making cheese. Any of those areas and so much more can be helpful in a SHTF scenario. Whatever the topic they are interested in, try to find a way to incorporate that learning into your daily activities. It makes learning a lot more fun.
In closing, there is still time to create an educational mission statement and to stock your own personal library. Begin taking time each day to read to your children. Have the heart of teach, and as you go throughout the day, teach your children as you do various activities. Once you have that foundation down (fostering a love of learning, creating opportunities for imagination through literature, and promoting an environment in which “everything” is learning, as seen by example from their parent), you may even choose to look at homeschooling. It was the next logical step for us. It has been two years now that we have homeschooled, and it has been a huge blessing for our entire family. Take control of what your children are learning. Don’t settle of mediocre standards. Give your family’s schedule some flexibility, and enjoy the extra time that you have together. I promise you won’t regret it! Know that if a true SHTF scenario happens, you can be prepared to educate your children and to do it well.