Schooling in a Post-SHTF World

It is the goal of many of us is to prepare not only for the collapse of society as we know it, but to prepare to rebuild and move on after that collapse has run its course.

We have ensured we have enough tools, food, and weaponry to make it through the worst of the collapse and we have built skills and made plans to see us through to our new way of life. However, there is one thing that is often overlooked when planning for a new era of human existence – the education of our children and grandchildren.

What we have to remember is that although the world as we know it might change drastically, we still have a responsibility as parents and as a community to raise the next generation of people who will take over for us when we get old. There are many questions that pop up when we think about this monumental task. Who will teach them? What will we teach them? How will we teach them? Now is the time to prepare for this aspect of survival.

Plan Now to Educate Later

Make the education of your children part of your preps. Period. Plan it out now and set aside the supplies, books, and information you will need when it matters, just in case there is no school to send them to later.

Many prepping families already homeschool their kids, which probably makes them more prepared than other prepping families. Am I saying you should all pull your kids out of school and start homeschooling them? Not at all!

What I am saying is that if you haven’t already given education some thought, now’s the time to do it. Once the SHTF, all hell will break loose and chaos will reign supreme.

Family vs. Community

While it is important to think of educating your children post-SHTF in a homeschool setting, it is important to also consider it in terms of the broader community.

It all depends on the magnitude of the SHTF event and you should be ready for anything. If the event is something that will be short-term or will not drastically change living conditions or a community over a long period of time (such as a severe weather event), then you will probably still be very connected to your local community.

If it’s more catastrophic, such as a massive economic collapse, nuclear war, or pandemic, you might rely more on yourselves and any other preppers with whom you have formed a connection. But if you still have a community after the SHTF, make use of it!

Here is an example. After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, one community built their own school. They had learned that it would be as much as six months before the government would be able to get schools up and running again in the area and some people, including the local school superintendent, took it upon themselves to create their own community school.

Their primary goal was to keep their first responders in the area so the community would continue to have their help. The end result was hundreds of children coming to the school from nearby neighborhoods. The reason for this was that it re-established a sense of normalcy for the children and adults of the area.

This is a lesson to us all. When the world falls apart, we need to re-establish that sense of normalcy and a community school is a good way to do that. It becomes a rallying point for the community. Whether it is your prepper community or the community in which you live, if you have other people to work with, you can create an alternative school for the community kids.

In any SHTF situation it is ideal to be part of a larger group or community. The information I cover below is relevant to post-SHTF education, whether you are on your own or part of a group of community.

Who Will Teach?

Not a teacher? Not a problem. Sure, if you aren’t a teacher and you don’t have someone in your family or prepper group who is, then you will need to do a little more work to prepare for it. The point is you can. I really think people get freaked out about teaching young kids, but I don’t know why. Sure, high school stuff is a bit more advanced, but elementary subjects are basic. Besides, you have been teaching your kids and nurturing their need to learn since the day they were born.

If you belong to a survival group or a MAG (mutual assistance group), then you might already have one or two teachers in the mix. Or you might have family members or close friends who are teachers. If so, then it might be best to give the task of preparing for post-SHTF education to them.

That doesn’t mean others can’t help or learn the ropes, but if you already have experts on hand, make use of them. If you create a post-SHTF community school and there are teachers in the community that can help out, that’s ideal, but if not, then parents can organize themselves to teach the different classes.

If you’re on your own, don’t sweat it. Just pretend you are going to homeschool your kids and do what you would to prepare for that. Research the topic thoroughly. Collect the needed materials, books, curriculum, and supplies you will need to teach them what they need to learn, which brings us to…

What Should They Learn?

This is a very good question and one that deserves a lot of consideration. There are two categories of learning that are paramount in SHTF: the normal school curriculum (reading, writing, math, history, etc.) and basic life skills.

School Curriculum

Yes, despite the fact that it’s the TEOTWAWKI your children still need to learn how to read, write, and do basic arithmetic. They should also learn other academic basics, such as science, health, and history. History might be particularly important because, well you know, the world just fell apart and they should have a solid understanding of why that happened.

Essentially, the basics won’t have changed. Math is the same. The basic laws of physics are the same. Language is the same. The anatomy of the human body is the same. All children need to learn these things. As society rebuilds, older children will likely move on to learning more advanced curriculum that can help them become a contributing member of society. This includes college- or trade-level learning, but I’ll that in more detail below.

Life Skills

Learning life skills is where the education of children takes a radical change. Sure, in our current society kids need to know some basics. They need to learn how to cook and clean and maintain a home and yard. But these aren’t really “life” skills.

Real life skills involve staying alive, being able to meet the basic needs of survival, including the production/acquisition of water, food, clothing, shelter, and warmth. How many people in our current society could really produce their own food? How many know how to find and purify water that doesn’t come out of the tap? How many can create their own clothing? After the SHTF, kids need to learn this stuff (heck, so do we!). Life skills that should be part of their education after the SHTF include:

  • Farming and agriculture
  • Foraging (for both food and medicinal plants)
  • Hunting
  • Animal care
  • Water collection and purification
  • Security
  • First Aid and Medical skills
  • Building various types of shelters
  • Starting a fire
  • Bush craft
  • Self-defense
  • Communication and negotiation
  • Reasoning and critical thinking

Honestly, this list is just a beginning. I encourage you to add to it based on the critical life skills you feel your children need to know.

How Will They Learn?

With these two categories of learning in mind, we get to the “how” of it. There are many learning styles and many ways to accommodate those learning styles. There are also different ways of teaching school curriculum and life skills. Feel free to mix and match as you see fit.

Traditional By-the-Book

Traditional curriculum is definitely a good place to start when considering educating children after SHTF, regardless of whether you are on your own or part of a community. You can easily Google the curriculum used in your kids’ school. Find it, print it off, and get to know it.

Once you have done this, you can begin to collect the necessary textbooks and supplies your kids will need and store them away. And any old textbooks and encyclopedias you have laying around are like gold. Keep them, even if they are from your college days.

If your kids don’t need any of this educational material in the end (i.e. the S doesn’t HTF for a few years), then you’ll have it on hand for your grandchildren or other children in your survival community.

Now, the question remains, what if you didn’t prepare beforehand and you don’t have any books?

Learning-by-Doing

If you find yourself post-SHTF and you didn’t build up a library of textbooks and a stash of school supplies, don’t sweat it! Human beings were learning long before textbooks were invented. Y

ou can teach math without a textbook. In fact, it’s better that way. Use stones to learning basic counting and grouping. Practice skip-counting while tossing a ball back and forth. Learn measuring on the fly while building the shelters and other structures you will need for your continued survival.

Reading and writing can be taught like this, too. If you have any books at all, use them. As long as you have a pen and paper, or heck, even dirt and a stick, you can teach a child their alphabet and how to read.

What I’m trying to say here is that you don’t need textbooks to teach a child. We learn every single day just by living life! Take advantage of the curious nature of a child and you will be a great teacher. Even in a community school setting, teachers can be creative in how they teach kids without the basics of a normal classroom.

Apprenticeship

As I mentioned above, kids will need more advanced learning as they get older (high school- and college-age). When the SHTF our kids won’t likely be going off to college to become a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant, or a computer programmer. The things they will do when they grow up will be a lot more trade-based in most cases. Construction, farming and agriculture, engineering, teaching, and medicine are all examples of the types of things the adults of the community will need to know.

As kids get older in a post-SHTF society and as their talents, personality, and preferences show themselves, they can be given positions as apprentices in one or two specific fields of interest. Now, this is likely to be the case after things really start settling down and it is time to really rebuild, when you are part of a larger community. What I’m talking about here is when we are truly building a new society.

In the early days after SHTF and when a family unit or a small group of people find themselves on their own for an extended period of time, everyone will have to contribute in numerous ways to ensure survival. It will be a combination of learning-by-doing and apprenticeship and it will apply to everyone, children and adults alike.

Learning How to Teach

A lot of you might be worried about educating your children post-SHTF. I get that, but like I said above, you have been teaching your children since they were born and you continue to teach them various things even when they are in school. In fact, many of you often help them with their schoolwork and teach them on the side!

We just have it in our heads that we can’t go beyond what we teach them in their early years, that we have to hand their education over to someone else, a qualified teacher, when they are four or five years old. While this is a convenience in our current society so that we can maintain a career and a certain way of life, it does not mean you are incapable of teaching your children.

If you are truly concerned about learning how to teach, it wouldn’t hurt to research teaching methods online. There is so much information out there about how to teach kids and now is the time to gather all the information you can. Just know that you can do it.

Final Thoughts

Considering the education of children after the SHTF is something that shouldn’t be shoved aside in favor of “more important things.” Other than immediate and desperate survival needs, there is nothing more important than educating our children because that ensures our continued survival.

Now, I’ll leave you with these last three things to consider. They might be the most important things you need to know when it comes to educating children. The first is to familiarize yourself with different learning styles and how to teach to them. Everyone learns differently, and if you focus on their learning strengths, you will come out on top.

Second, teach kids based on their individual talents and interests, rather than the way they would be taught in an institutional setting. This way, you will raise kids who will turn into fully functional adults who can contribute to the needs of a newly developing society.

Third and most important, have fun! Teaching your kids is a rewarding experience, even if the world has fallen apart. Enjoy every moment of it and make it fun and exciting for your kids. Everyone will grow and learn together!

About Karen Hendry

Karen Hendry
An urban prepper and rural wannabe, Karen has been working as a freelance writer for a decade and prepping for about half that time. She has gathered a wealth of knowledge on preparing for SHTF, but there is always more to learn and she has a passion for gathering and sharing that knowledge with other like-minded folk. Karen lives in London, Canada with her two children and plethora of cats. In her spare time she is writing the next great apocalyptic novel of our time, full of government conspiracy and betrayal at every level.

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