By Tara Dodrill
If you do not homeschool your children, include a basic first aid kit, a map with the route home highlighted, directions to survival caches along the route, several nutritional bars and a survival straw in their school backpack. The child, regardless of age, must be taught how to respond if at school or on a field trip when disaster strikes. A teacher will not allow a student to simply ignore the shelter in place and wait for help – rules that the district likely has in place.
Children cannot even take toy guns to play with at recess like we could as youngsters, so placing any type of self-defense item in a backpack is not an option. Survival caches buried between home and school offer not only additional food, water, and first aid supplies, but age appropriate self-defense items as well. Several bottles of mace and a knife will not offer much help when faced with an armed individual, but possessing such items would at least give your child some small way to defend himself.
A teenage girl would be an easy and enticing target to seedy male characters she could encounter on the walk home from school during a disaster, even if the trek is only a short distance. Teaching your child both when and how to defy authority and head for home could be key to their survival. If you have multiple children in different school buildings, they should know where to meet and how long to wait for each other before going it alone. Message threads will prevent children from aimlessly searching for one another or wasting valuable time and possibly encountering danger waiting in the designated spot, not realizing their sibling had already left the area.
Young children without an older sibling to guide them will be left at the mercy of others and possibly not be able to leave the school and travel home, or to a meeting point, alone.
If the power grid attack destroys the computer systems in cars, the 10 mile walk to reach your child’s school will surely feel like it is taking an excruciatingly long time. Imagine how long it would take you to reach your child’s kindergarten classroom if you happened to be on crutches with a broken ankle when disaster strikes? As you limp along the highway to the school, placing yourself in extreme danger since it would be difficult to pull, aim, and fire a gun while on crutches, your little girl is huddled in fear crying out for mommy or daddy in her classroom.
Long before I became aware of the need to prepare beyond the typical fully-stocked “mom purse” level, I chaperoned a kindergarten class field trip to a zoo about 80-miles away from the school. Yes, a two-hour bus ride with young children is something you will never forget. At the time I was working in the education field, running several youth sports leagues, and was a Girl Scout leader – so I was well aware of the stress the day would bring.
Although the dedicated teachers and well-intentioned parents thought the group was well prepared for every possible contingency, we would have found ourselves woefully lacking if the power grid failed while touring the gorilla habitat with the kiddos. Just imagine attempting to walk 125 5-year-olds about 80 miles during a disaster.
If the field trip had been for middle or high school students, the excursion home would have been extremely difficult without adequate provisions, no means of self-defense, and a host of youths who likely spent more time playing on the smart phones than learning any self-reliance skills. Even a well-trained teen would be so far away from the emergency caches buried between the school and home that he or she would surely struggle along the journey.
Homeschooling is truly the best option for both safety and educational reasons. A host of homeschool programs, support and activity groups, and even free online course are readily available. Treca Digital Academy offers a comprehensive curriculum and includes the options to take dual-credit courses for college at no cost and is just one of many quality homeschool programs offered in the United States.
Even if you opt for an online homeschooling program, an adult must still be in the home with the children when they participate in the learning process. If a stay at home mom or work from home parent situation is not currently an option, perhaps a grandparent or a hired “babysitter” could assume the supervisory duties until a permanent solution can be figured out. Prepper parents that are part of a mutual assistance group could perhaps educate children in a central location and rotate the homeschooling responsibilities.
Living a self-reliant lifestyle or being a prepper does not mean that you are constantly huddled together and never enjoy a family trip or excursions away from town. Before you or your children leave for an activity pack the car and backpacks as if it is a given the return trip would be on foot, lengthy, and full of obstacles. Hiding caches along a vacation route or between your son’s girlfriend’s house and your own will take a bit of extra time and money – but the health and well-being of your loved ones is priceless.
Although children may complain about getting up for school, they will miss the experience when it becomes no longer available. 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 homeschool should find a local group to network 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 bug-out or bug-in 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.