Educating Your Children At Home & Morale Boosters
Homeschooling families will definitely have a head start when preparing to run a classroom after a doomsday scenario occurs. Those folks who do not have an educational background or homeschooling experience should find a local group to network with and ask for tips for home education during a long-term disaster scenario.
Homeschooling families are typically a very helpful group, and yes they will likely try to “convert” you, but it is unlikely that they will turn down an opportunity to help parents learn how to educate their children.
When there’s a crisis or disaster and you are anchored at your bugout or bugin location, your children’s education will become your sole responsibility. Many homesteading and prepper families have already opted to teach their children in a home classroom and will have at least some materials stockpiled for standard use.
Online homeschool opportunities thankfully abound, but access to the Internet will not be possible during a grid down scenario. Maintaining some sense of normalcy and making sure that children in a post-doomsday America can still read and possess the math skills necessary to tackle life-saving tasks, is important.
Educational Options For Prepping Families
Raising a self-reliant child is a priority for prepping families, as it should be for all American families. There are multiple educational choices open to parents in most states. Prepper parents are typically focused on the same academic goals as non-survivalist parents — we just also want out children to learn self-reliant skills, and garner a greater sense of independence and responsibility in the process. The number of homeschooling families has increased exponentially in recent years. The amount of charter schools across the country have also grown at a surprising rate. Parents opt out of mainstream schools for a vast array of reasons: safety, academic quality and concern about indoctrination are usually near the top of the list.
There is the traditional public school, or government school, as those us who have grown disgruntled with the institution often call it. Nearly my entire family worked in public education, both in paid and elected positions. I worked in a rural public school for a decade and left once I began to feel like a factory worker and saw the joy of learning evaporating from the academic process.
Charter schools and private schools
Private schools and charter schools are both good alternatives to government schools, but both types of educational facilities have drawbacks from a self-reliance and prepper family perspective.
Few charter or public schools exist in rural areas, making geographic limitations the first checkmark in the negative column for those education options. Cost is also a drawback as both charter school and private school tuition can come with a hefty price tag.
Online charter schools
Online charter schools offer a taste of homeschooling freedom but still relies upon a curriculum guided by advisers from outside the family.
Online charter schools do exist tuition-free in some states, but such educational choices are still not commonplace. In Ohio, taxpayers’ dollars follow the student when parents choose to enroll their child into an online charter school like TRECA Digital Academy. From my personal experience, the online charter school my daughter was enrolled in did offer a better education and stiffer graduation requirements than any public school in the region. The online charter school offered student-guided (or parent-guided) educational hours that allowed us to incorporate hands-on learning and field trips, as is typical of a homeschool environment.
Taking post-secondary courses for free, either online or a local brick-and-mortar college for dual credit, were also allowed via the online charter school. This aspect of the program was a definite plus from both a self-reliance and future career choice aspect. My daughter Brea was interested in working with horses and took several classes in equine science at a local community college in addition to online course to complete academic requirements for her college degree. She also took a leatherwork course to learn how to work with leather and gained the skills necessary to make and repair various types of leather items.
The college course offerings, which would allow a teenager to garner self-reliance skills through the online charter school program, were nearly limitless.
The rural community college, which was within a short driving distance, offered professional certificates and degrees for firefighters, paramedics, police sciences, nursing, natural resources, mechanics, engineering, timber harvesting, fish management, forest management, wildlife resources, physical therapy, heavy equipment management, carpentry, advanced energy and baking. Any one of those degree fields offers an abundance of preparedness skills, which would prove extremely handy during a long-term disaster.
Create hands-on learning experiences for your children is free post-secondary courses are not an option in your state.
We moved Brea from a government school to an online charter school in January of her junior year. Working at her own pace, she was able to complete all of the state’s high school requirements by March and began taking college courses, earning credits toward a degree and, perhaps, most importantly, learning skills which would make her a vital part of our preparedness group before she was even old enough to vote.
Unfortunately, free post-secondary classes are not currently offered in all states, but that does not mean a self-reliance focused family cannot find free or affordable training to occupy a child’s afternoon hours after spending the morning online taking classes via the online charter school’s program. Going old-school and setting up an apprenticeship with local skilled craftsman or even spending more time out in the woods or working on the farm with friends and relatives increases your child’s essential skill set.
Parents are a child’s first teacher. The idea of homeschooling can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. Mommy and daddy begin teaching their little bundles of joy from the very moment they are born. A myriad of educational resources, curriculum supplies, social activities and support for homeschooling parents exist in all states where the at-home learning model is legal.
When there’s a crisis or disaster and you are anchored at your bug out/bug in location, your children’s education will become your sole responsibility. Many homesteading and off-grid families have already opted to teach their children in a home classroom and will have at least some materials stockpiled for standard use. Online homeschool opportunities thankfully abound, but access to the Internet will not be possible during a grid-down scenario. Depending upon the severity of a civil unrest, economic collapse, or natural disaster, cyber learning may also be interrupted for an extended period of time.
Hands-on technical learning will be a big part of any crisis classroom education process. Networking with a local homeschool league may also enable prepper parents with the skills and resources necessary to help educate their children when the school buses stop running and the Internet no longer works. Dollar stores are excellent sources for educational
There is no need to purchase expensive workbooks and stacks of paper. Make a chalkboard on a wall or door and allow the children to do their spelling and math lessons with a bit of Little House on the Prairie flair. Brea is now grown and she and her husband have started a family of their own. Although little Colt Remington Miller (Brea and James love both horses and guns) is only 5 months old, plans are already being made for his education.
Brea is considering a homeschool group-style of education for her children. Such a scenario would be ideal for any mutual assistance group. Several of her close friends have children around the same age as her son Colt. She has envisioned a team teaching environment where the children learn together in one home and work on self-reliance and preparedness projects together, while gearing their field trips to match what the kiddos are learning during their morning seatwork. Learning how to grow seeds, harvest the crops, can and dehydrate produce, and prepare meals will involve reading, math and science skills — and cost very little money in the process.
Unschooling is a form of homeschooling that places the motivation and responsibility of learning into the hands of the students themselves. The process is created through interdependency between parent (along with other adults offering an opportunity for learning) and the student. Children are given the freedom to navigate toward their own interests and to discover what roles and responsibilities they actually play in their own lives and in the lives of those around them.
The Unschooling website describes the non-traditional form of education this way:
“Unschooling children are supported to pursue, or self-direct, the myriad of things that are of interest to them, eat foods they enjoy and in quantities that are satisfying, sleep and rest according to their individual needs, choose friends of all ages or none at all, engage in the world in unique and powerful and self-directed ways.”
Unschooling students learn based on their own interests. Activities such as “free play, inventing, experimenting scientifically, video gaming, role modeling through friendship, spiritual development through inquiry of self and others, athletics,” are commonplace.
Morale Boosters and Education Supplies
Morale boosters and school materials are definitely not at the top of the prepping list, but such items can make the spare time after chores enjoyable and productive at the same time. Hands-on technical learning will be a big part of any crisis classroom education process.
Although little Susie might be good at helping Mommy measure sugar for cupcakes, she will need to learn how to read, follow package instructions, and garner basic math skills to understand fractions when cooking or helping with water disinfecting and filtration on her own.
After a doomsday scenario, little Suzie could become the “woman of the house” at a very young age, all tasks she helps with should be viewed as an apprenticeship.
· All the standard paper, pens, crayons, school supplies – but in bulk. Once the materials you have stored are gone, you may not be able to replenish your supplies.
· Chalkboards, chalk, or chalkboard paint. The chalkboard paint comes in a variety of colors and can be applied to scrap wood or $1 metal baking sheets from Dollar Tree to be used for math and spelling practice.
· Manipulatives are extremely handy teaching aids when working with preschool through second grade children. The colorful visual aids help children with their counting, hand-eye-coordination, color recognition, and shape-sorting skills.
· You could spent rather a lot of money buying little plastic bear figures or shiny plastic stars from a teacher resource store – or go the economical route and make your own educational manipulatives. Craft stores like Hobby Lobby have all sorts or cute little wood and thick cardboard cutouts the children could paint themselves and be used as visual aids during math lessons.
· Reading books at all grade levels. Check yard sales and library book sales for cheap deals that will allow you to create a substantial library for the children. I recently purchased a set of adult encyclopedias and a child set for just $3 each at a library used book sale. When the power grid is down, children will no longer be able to use Google to research.
· Brown lunch sacks for “book report in a bag” activities. The homeschooling students put items in the bag that represent the story and give a verbal report on the book. Save your toilet and paper towel rolls and print of storybook puppet sheets from DLTK-Kids so the younger students can use them to give a book report or write their own stories and act the out.
· Child-sized gardening tools and work gloves so the little ones can learn about science as it relates to the growing and raising of food. The practical and agricultural science lessons can also incorporate lessons about the changing seasons, weather observation, and foraging for edible plants.
· Aprons the children can decorate as an art project. The clothing will make learning “cooking math” and safe food handling skills a bit more festive while helping prepare meals. The cooking, baking, freezing, thawing, and dehydrating processes also offer the opportunity to incorporate science lessons into kitchen chores.
· Index cards for use in making flash cards to teach math facts, vocabulary, colors, and shapes.
Homeschooling Resources & Printable Lessons
These homeschooling resource websites offer preschool through high school grade level lesson plans, activity sheets, and curriculum guidance. Many also provide links to additional resource materials and companion paperback books. There is no fee or membership required to view or print any of the resources.
· Donna Young.org
· Compassion.com – Christian Homeschooling Resources
While budgeting for potentially life-saving staples and engaging in self-defense and survival training, don’t forget about the important role morale boosters play during a long-term natural or man-made emergency.
Board games, cards, candy, and flavored drink mixes are commonly purchased preparedness morale boosters. Advanced planning by the designated family or mutual assistance group “morale officer” allows for the organization of activities and storage of items that go far beyond the routine – and all on a shoestring budget.
Finding ways to give children and teens a sense of normality should involve input from the youngsters themselves. Remember, the recovery time for a power grid failure could take a decade, so plan for babies that could be joining the group along the way as well.
· Seasonal Crafts - Holidays could cause morale to slip significantly if not planned for long in advance. Filling plastic tubs with items specific to each major holiday will delight not just the youngsters, but offer a brief escape from the new reality for everyone in the family or mutual assistance group. Craft supplies for children, teens, and elderly members of the group to make reusable decorations will keep hands and minds busy and offer a chance for storytelling, Bible reading, and singing while the art task is being completed. In the days following Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Thanksgiving, themed art kits are typically offered at 75 percent off, a great time to snag some foam art kits, ornament kits, egg decorating kits, and the like, for next to nothing. Pick some pine cones and store to add to the holiday decorations and ornament-making supply kit as well.
Hand-made accessories like the headbands the little ones are wearing will make delightful gifts during a long-term disaster.
· Gifts with a Purpose - Even the children will need to learn or enhance their skill sets to survive and thrive after a disaster scenario. A craft class geared to gift-making can teach such skills and provide lovingly hand-made useful items as well. Put together kits which teach leather-making, basket weaving, candle making, soap making, and macramé items. The youngsters and those who are physically unable to complete manual labor tasks can still be contributing members of the group and will take great pride in the items the produce. A little plastic loom which makes potholders is a great inexpensive kit to buy for young girls. A macramé plant holder would make an attractive herb or vegetable planter. The leather-making kit would make a multitude of gifts while teaching the user the skills necessary to repair or make a host of leather items which are needed around the homestead. Girls can also learn how to sew with a kit or a manual sewing machine which are often found at yard and estate sales. Grab clothes form yard sales to use for material for the beginning sewing projects.
· Movies - Start looking for DVD movies in big box store bargain bins and at yard sales. A movie night once a week for the adults and a separate viewing tie for children would be a welcome reprieve from chores. The frequency of movie watching would depend on the availability of power, of course, but would be the highlight of the week for many. A solar generator does not need store-bought fuel and can work even during cloudy and chilly weather, and definitely should be added to the top of the prepping essentials list.
· Special Events - Birthdays and holidays are always highly anticipated times of year, not just for children, but for loving moms who typically plan months in advance of the annual celebrations. The Dollar Tree and similar $1 outlets are great places to stock on up birthday plates, gift wrap, reusable decorations, and tablecloths. Don’t forget to grab some treat bags which can be re-used and dozen-for-a-dollar goodies to put inside the bags for other children. Watch for sales on toys (or clothes and jewelry for teens) in shopping circulars or at yard sales to buy gift items to store away until disaster strikes. Don’t forget to plan ahead for anniversaries as well.
If we were forced into an 1800s existence after a power grid failure, your children or grandchildren’s’ spirits will surely be lifted when you dig out the clearance rack Halloween costumes and boxes of Valentine’s Day party favors you scooped up for pennies on the dollar.
· Snacks – A sweet treat or drink would also lift spirits for at least a few delightful minutes. Freeze some soda pop in ice cube trays and put them in your icehouse and store until either frowns abound or a special occasion. Long-term food storage manufacturers do include dessert items such as freeze-dried ice cream, cookies, and cake mixes. Bubble gum is cheap and has an amazingly long shelf life. Store cake in a jar or muffin in a jar recipes in Mason jars for tasty morale boosters in the future.
Music – Relaxing to some live music played by your loved ones – when sound discipline is not a factor of course, can be a great morale booster for the entire family. Toy instruments for the little ones can be found at the Dollar Tree and tucked away for these special occasions, so they can join in as well. Purchase some music and song books or print lyrics to songs everyone enjoys in preparation for the family sing-a-longs - with or without a piano or guitar setting the beat.
Senior Citizen Preparedness
Senior citizen preparedness is a concern not only for those preppers who have reached their golden years, but for those of us in the self-reliance community who love and cherish and elderly person. If a parent, grandparent, or favorite aunt happens to live far away or in a nursing home, concerns about the relatives surviving even a short-term disaster are heightened.
My husband Bobby’s fire page woke me up around 3:00 a.m. on an incredibly chilly late October morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but our dogs and my ducks weren’t about to have it.
I rubbed my sleepy eyes and went downstairs to start critter chores early (which totally messed up their morning routine for several days) flip on the news, and get some ideas about writing topics for the day.
It was too early for fresh news, still replays from the evening before. So, I decided to start browsing online for homemade present ideas for an upcoming family gathering.
Being the perfect prepper wife, I immediately noticed a duel preparedness purpose for many of the homemade gift ideas I was finding online. Although it was not yet light outside, the cobwebs were clearing from my still-tired mind. I began recalling countless conversations with my favorite prepper chick pals, the momma of all things self-reliance Survivor Jane, Jen E. from Thrive, Cindy Thompson from Life Changes Be Ready, homesteading expert Melissa K. Norris, Heritage Press preparedness-minded publisher Hanne Moon, renowned author Granny Pam, and childhood pal and homeschooling mom Jenny W.
The self-reliant sisterhood gals and I had all discussed the varying ways to introduce preparedness concepts to our family, friends, and children. Handing a loved one a gas mask and telling them they will need it one day soon to protect them from a deadly pandemic tends to flip them all the way out.
The prepping ladies and I have chosen to opt for a more subtle and inch-by-inch approach to self-reliance education. Survivor Jane once told me a story about enticing friends and relatives with a delicious pie which was made with fruit she had grown in her very own backyard. Planting the seeds of survival can be just that simple. As loved ones enjoy a slice of sweet berry deliciousness, the conversation can be steered toward the cost-effectiveness of growing your own produce, then onward to the healthy nature of non-GMO fruits and veggies, and forward once again to how simple it is to dehydrate and can what you grow.
Once you can see visions of berry bushes and tomato vines dancing in the heads of your captive audience, you have an opening to discuss how quickly food will disappear from store shelves during even a short-term disaster. Going full on prepper with birthday, anniversary, bridal shower, wedding, and Christmas presents might not be entirely possible, but a multitude of self-reliance style gifts under the tree, even for the kiddos, is most definitely feasible. Some of the preparedness items I plan on turning into self-reliance gifts are homemade, others store bought, and some involve a little bit of both infused with a related “survival field trip” follow-up.
I surely cannot be the only one who looks around in disbelief upon realizing that all of the hours of shopping and wrapping devolved into a colorful pile of discarded paper on the floor in mere minutes after Christmas and birthday parties. Plastic toy pieces are lost before the Christmas ham is served, some toys remain in their boxes for weeks after being carelessly tossed into a closet – even as chants of “I’m bored” roll of the lips of the youngsters. And grandma really does not need another pair of slippers.
When it comes time to give a gift this year, stray from the consumer herd just a bit and achieve a sense of greater fulfillment with prepper-approved presents that will keep on giving long after you sweep a wayward pine needle out from behind the couch come June.
Preparedness Gift Ideas for Senior Citizens
Grandmas and grandpas come in all shapes, sizes, and age groups. Some grandpas and grandmas are fairly young and enjoy physical and outdoor activities, others are older and far less mobile and agile. This post is focused upon preparedness gifts for senior citizen grandparents who no longer go out hunting, work the livestock on the farm on a regular basis, or are often tasked with cooking for a small army.
Both of my grandmothers and probably had a dozen pairs of house slippers, several bathrobes for each season, and scores of dusty knick-knacks when they passed away. I loved them immensely and still miss them every single day. When grandparents are in their late 70s, 80s, and 90s, gift-giving can become rather difficult. Framed photos of the grandkids and great grandkids are always popular, but granny and paps only have so much shelf space – especially if they are residing in an assistive care facility.
Emergency Photo Album
Put a new twist on the cute kids in a framed photo gift idea and help emergency responders and nursing facility staff know who the loved ones of the elderly individual are in case SHTF and you cannot get to their sides in the short term. If the power grid goes down, or there is a fire, or an evacuation has taken place, the contact information for the grandparent will no longer be available. If the loved one struggles with memory, even the most familiar faces might not be recognized after a traumatic situation.
Purchase an attractive yet small and easily portable photo album and put a photo of a loved one or a small group of loved ones on each page. On the back of the follow or following page, list the names of everyone in order and all necessary contact information. A personal message from each loved one will make the gift an even more cherished keepsake and may help to keep the elderly loved on calm during an emergency or evacuation.
A printout of the grandparents’ medical history and current medications could be added in the back pages of the book. If possible, buy a mail organizer rack and hang it near a door and add a label to either the book or the shelf (or both) noting that the keepsake album contains emergency information. First responders will likely notice such a label more quickly if it is typed in bold red letters. Remind staff or the grandparents that the book is hanging by the door and should always be grabbed in case of an emergency.
Long-Term Food Storage and Water
My husband gives a long-term food storage bucket as a gift to our children and parents every year at Christmas. A case of water and a food bucket, or even just a few food packets if space is an issue, will increase the likelihood of survival for your grandparents during an emergency. Reminding grandma and grandpa about where the emergency long-term food and water are stored may be necessary and could be added to the emergency photo album as well.
If the grandparents live in a nursing facility, it will be especially important to hide the food and water and make sure your loved ones have a safe and simple way to prepare and eat the food without aid. A pair of kitchen scissors should also be added to the food and water kit just to make sure the elderly loved one can open the packets easily. If vision is an issue, make your own labels with the directions printed in large text and adhere to the food bucket or plastic tub filled with bottled water and food packets.
Reading and Learning are Fun at any Age!
Reading is both pleasurable and educational. Our vision tends to deteriorate as we age, but that is no reason to miss out on a great book – especially ones which enhance self-reliance skills. Audiobooks are a great alternative to even large print books. I downloaded the Audiobooks app on my iPhone specifically to “read” William Forestchen’s One Second After with my husband. Bobby had never read the book and with his work schedule and preparedness tasks, I figured it would just sit on shelf with the other “one of these days” book titles and gather dust, if I bought it for him. I did not think I would like Audiobooks at first, but now I love them. Each time I download a title it reminds me of when my dad would tell me bedtime stories as a child.
Tablets are relatively cheap these days, and nearly all of them are compatible with the Audiobooks app.
Buy gram and gramps a tablet and load it with a couple of preparedness titles, and perhaps a book from their favorite other or a focused on a topic they already enjoy as well. Many elderly loved ones spend a lot of their day alone, the sound of another voice could be very welcomed and comforting.
Whether you go with Audiobooks or a traditional paperback book as a gift, the experience can be a great learning and sharing experience for both the loved one and yourself. If you and grandpa share a love of gardening, get him Rick Austin’s Secret Garden of Survival book so he can get his thumb green once again by learning the organic techniques Austin explains simply and in great detail.
The next time you visit the senior citizen in person, Skype, or call on the phone, discuss what is going on in the book, take notes until you have learned enough to attempt the gardening techniques on your own. Old family stories about life on the farm, canning the annual harvest, or cooking what the family grew will not only help keep the family history alive but perhaps teach the younger generations some valuable sustainability techniques as well.
The joy of sharing knowledge definitely does not fade as we grow older. Grandma and Grandpa will surely enjoy contributing to your gardening endeavors and look forward to seeing the photos of your progress. If possible, tie in your loved ones former career expertise with the book topic. If you want to build an off the grid power source, perhaps grandpa can aid in the project when pulling from their vast amount of knowledge and new ideas learned in the book. All the conversations had while the loved one is enjoying a preparedness Audiobook, paperback, or Kindle book open the door to further discussions about the importance of self-reliance.
If gram and gramps are online, store bookmarks for preparedness radio shows and podcasts on their tablet, cell phone, or computer for their listening and learning pleasure as well.
Senior Citizens Bugout Bag
The prepping needs of senior citizens will likely vary just a bit from those of younger and more mobile loved ones. Grandma and grandpa might “bugout” via an organized evacuation by caregivers or be bugging in until help, or you, can arrive.
In addition to all the essential emergency survival and first aid items you have in your own bugout or get me home bag, consider including the following:
• Adult diapers
• Natural remedies and aids that may help the loved one stay health once their prescribed medication run out.
• Extra hand warmers
• Non-prescription glasses and a magnifying class
• Some type of personal protection item, this will vary dependent upon the loved ones mental and physical abilities, as well as possibly nursing home rules. Consider mace, Taser, knife, brass knuckles, even a screwdriver offers some type of self-defense option.
• Extra Mylar emergency blankets, the elderly tend to get cold far easier than younger folks.
Flashlights are great, but batteries eventually run out and removing the battery compartment and replacing batteries could prove difficult for some elderly loved ones. The Dollar Tree solar lights work just as well as their more-expensive counterparts.
The solar lights could be placed inside a nice planter and kept in a window area or be used to create attractive Mason jar lights and decorative items which blend in with the rest of the décor in the home. Garden metal art and similar decorations could also be placed on a stand or on the floor by a window area indoors and used for additional and safe lighting during an emergency.
Even if the grandparents are in a rest home with a generator, the fuel necessary to create power would run out during a long-term disaster. A slip and fall injury is not something any of us would want during a disaster, but healing from such an injury while potentially left to the mercy of others in a care facility, is not a situation we want our elderly loved ones to find themselves in.