I’ve been saying for quite awhile now how people should be prepared for hard times in seven core areas: food, water, heating, lighting, medicine, sanitation, and protection. But it didn’t dawn on me – duh – to consider the importance of education as a core area. I’m not talking about educating one’s self in preparedness issues (though that is, of course, critically important); I’m talking about educating children. I suppose this is because the List of Seven addresses physical needs, and education is more intellectual or psychological.
For those without kids or for those whose kids are grown, addressing and preparing for educational needs is not a big deal. But anyone who has a Preparedness mindset and who also has kids must question what might happen if those kids were unable to attend school for whatever reason.
Homeschooling is clearly the answer.
It’s funny – after umpteen years of educating our children, I never really thought about the connection between homeschooling and Preparedness; yet the two are entwined to a surprising degree.
I’ll use our story as an example. Preparedness wasn’t really on our radar when we started homeschooling; it was just what we always knew we would do. Nor was Preparedness on our radar when we decided to leave Oregon. Since we’re self-employed, we had the freedom to move anywhere we wished. We looked at properties in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The homeschooling laws in Idaho were by far the least restrictive, so that’s where we concentrated our search.
About a year ago I read a book called The Two-Income Trap. While often spouting a leftist perspective, the author made some interesting observations about parents and school districts. It seems quite often parents choose to purchase a home in a school district with better schools so their children will have better educational opportunities. Makes sense, right? Trouble is, these districts often have higher home prices (no doubt because of the better schools), necessitating both parents working to pay the mortgage and other bills. This is the two-income trap. It’s a pity these parents don’t recognize how homeschooling their kids means they can live far more cheaply because they’re not tied to a particular school district.
We purchased our twenty-acre farm with home and outbuilding at a very low price (read: affordable mortgage payments) in a rural area where property values were low (at the time – they’ve gone up since). Until we moved here we also didn’t realize we were in one of the worst school districts in the State of Idaho. And I mean this district is BAD. Concerned parents frequently enroll their children in neighboring districts, driving long distances under sometimes extremely challenging weather conditions simply to make sure their children receive an adequate education.
Or – they homeschool. One of the side blessings of a bad school district is the number of homeschooled kids in this area.
The reason we didn’t inquire about the quality of the school district prior to purchasing our farm is because we didn’t care. Our choice of location was totally independent of the quality of the local school district. We were not held hostage to home prices because of our children’s educational needs.
And now that we’re “Preppers,” we find ourselves living in a place many people consider to be a wonderful “bug-out” location. This can be indirectly linked to our education choices. Chalk up one for homeschooling.
Now let’s suppose the bleep were to hit the fan. If the economy crashes, or if an EMP or solar flare takes out the grid, there’s going to be a lot of distress and hardship for a lot of people. It goes without saying that schools – both public and private – are not likely to be running under these conditions.
But homeschooling families can continue their children’s education un-interrupted. They may be scrambling to cope with the “List of Seven” core areas in which they may or may not be prepared; but at least their children will not be deprived of an education.
To this end, I’ve tried to think ahead and anticipate what my girls will need to learn between now and their adulthood. In other words, we’re “stocking up” on educational resources in addition to beans, bullets, and bandaids. Whether or not the girls choose to attend college, my job is to equip them with the very best K-12 education I can. Obviously if my kids were in kindergarten it would be more challenging to anticipate what they might be studying at 17, but at their current ages (12 and almost 15) it’s not so difficult.
I should point out that we don’t follow a pre-planned curriculum. The educational options available for homeschoolers these days are rich and varied, ranging from (cough) “unschooling” to rigid packaged curricula. We’re strictly middle-of-the-road in our approach. I often call our method the “wing-it” school of learning because we just pick up and select materials as we need them, rather than following someone else’s pre-packaged ideas of what the kids should be learning, and when.
To this end I seldom turn down any homeschool-related books or materials that someone is getting rid of, because after all we never know when we may want or need it. We have a whole cabinet stuffed with books and reference materials that were given to us over the years by various people cleaning out their unneeded homeschooling materials. Sometimes we dip into these resources and they become part of our curriculum; but most of the time these resources just sit there.
But that’s okay. It gives us additional breadth should we need them. Or it means we have things to share with others if they need them.
Anyway, back to the planning-ahead stuff. I’ll use science as an example. Since my husband and I both have master’s degrees in the sciences (him, geology; me, biology), we consider a sound science education to be important. We certainly don’t lack for resources and materials! We have books galore on the subject. Yet I found myself floundering in science. Why? Because I didn’t have much by way of a logical and progressive guide.
Most of the science resources we had seen were either too young for my girls, or too shallow (meaning, it didn’t delve deeply into a particular subject). We have plenty of “depth” resources for science learning, but what I lacked was a comprehensive overview of what should be taught.
A friend introduced me to a catalog called Classical Conversations. This company offers a bewildering wealth of foundational material, nearly all of which we can’t afford. I was drooling over the history and grammar aids but they’re priced beyond our budget. Besides history, being linear, is not hard to teach.
Recently this company came out with a series of science “flashcards” that comprehensively cover the subjects of biology, geology, ecology, astronomy, physics, anatomy, chemistry, and famous scientists. Each flashcard is merely a summary of a particular topic and is not meant for shallow review. They’re meant as a guide for a much more in-depth study of that particular topic. We have the in-depth resources to delve into each topic, and now I have a structure that will guide me through these core science areas through the girls’ high school years. These cards were expensive but, I believe, well worth it. Whoo-hoo!
This is the kind of thinking in which we are trying to engage. We’re trying to “prepare” for our girls’ educational needs as well as physical needs if the bleep ever hits the fan. The whole idea of Prepping is to transition ourselves into hard times with as little disruption or inconvenience as possible under the circumstances. For most children, schooling is a major part of their lives, and for us schooling doesn’t have to be interrupted at all.
There are other, less tangible but just as important benefits to homeschooling. Our girls are growing up with an education that does not dilute the values we hold dear. If they spent half or more of their waking hours among peers of questionable values, they would begin to drift away from their upbringing and embrace easy sex, skanky fashions, and a snarky attitude in a desperate bid to “fit in” with their peers.
Instead, they spend the majority of their waking hours with family and friends of similar values, just like children have done through 5000+ years of civilization. The whole public-school peer-pressure culture is such a recent invention that it baffles me when critics claim we’re depriving our kids of that kind of horrible pressure, or that peer pressure is necessary to raise well-adjusted children into adulthood. Wrong-O.
In addition, despite the efforts of a minority of battle-scarred teachers, the public school curricula in most areas emphasize things that are completely antithetical to our values and political suasions. (Read the “Update” on my Women Against Women post to see what I mean.) I don’t want my girls attending classes where they learn to put condoms on bananas or how to write their own gravesite epitaphs or why capitalism is evil and our Founding Fathers were idiots. I want my girls learning non-politically-correct history, the true foundations of our country, and how to write like educated humans instead of texting monkeys.
For anyone who is serious about Prepping, please consider homeschooling your kids. Like anything else, homeschooling takes practice and adjustments. There are always kinks to work out, there are always problems that arise and must be solved. All children learn differently, and it takes a patient parent to adjust a subject and teaching method to a particular child’s abilities and interest.
But once a family gets into the homeschooling swing of things, the blessings and benefits are innumerable. – and that includes Preparedness as well.