Educating Our Children When the SHTF

This guest post is by Encourager and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

We have paid attention to putting by food, water, tools,weapons, medical supplies and clothing. We have prepared the best we can,learned new skills, practiced them, and took classes on first aid and EMT training, taken firearm lessons and practiced, practiced, practiced. We are saving seed for future gardens, buying chickens, ducks, rabbits, cows to feed us and even horses for transportation or farm work.

There is one area that needs to be addressed – the education of our children. I am not writing this article to convert those reading it to become homeschoolers. I am writing it to get you to think about a child’s education when it is the end of the world as we know it. Unless you are content to having a generation or two that cannot read, write or do simple math, you will need to step up and figure out how you are going to educate your children when there are no schools to send them to. Right now there is so much information on the internet on homeschooling which can help you plan for the future – even if currently you have no need or desire to home educate.

There are various methods of teaching at home. Many advocate testing your children to find out what type of learner they are and designing teaching around that. There are Visual Learners (those who learn best by seeing), auditory (those who learn best by hearing), and kinesthetic (those who learn best by doing). A good book to help you determine what type each child is a good idea. (check the internet).

Various methods of teaching at home:

Eclectic Homeschooling

“Eclectic means ‘selecting and using what seems best from various sources, systems or schools of thought.’ Eclectic homeschoolers might say they un-school most things, but use curriculum for math. You will also find eclectic homeschoolers that use a variety of different curriculum that they adjust to fit the needs of their families. Most eclectic homeschoolers can’t take a product and just use it. Just as a mechanic likes to tweak the engine in his car to get just a bit better performance, so eclectic homeschoolers tweak the curriculum they use. Then you find the eclectic homeschoolers that use no curriculum at all relying on good books and hands on resources to help their children learn.” ( Beverly S. Krueger.

This is pretty much the method I used to home school my son. We used various curriculum that I tweaked to fit my son’s needs and interests.

The Un-schooling Method

“Un-schooling is not how we do something,but why. Un-schooling is the belief that all people, no matter how old or young, have a built-in desire to learn (unless that desire has been crushed by outside forces). It is a belief that if you allow a person of any age to pursue their own interests throughout life they will end up gaining the knowledge they will need in order to pursue the life they want. Un-schooling has nothing to do with tools that one may use to learn something, it is pure technique.

Assuming the person wants to learn this way, it allows for structure or no structure,textbooks or no textbooks, workbooks or no workbooks. It includes the taking of classes. It allows for correspondence courses and private lessons. It allows for field trips, mentorships, jobs and volunteerism. It also allows for months of just playing with LEGOS or street hockey or endless computer games or taking apart the old car, if that is what the child needs then. It allows the person,no matter what age, to pursue their own goals and their own interests without guilt. It allows for educational freedom. (

Unit Study Method

“With the unit study method, we choose one topic and combine different subjects to revolve around and tie into that topic. First of all, the unit study approach is different from the traditional textbook approach (which is to read a portion of text, usually full of facts and not very interesting and then answer some questions at the end).” (

One of the best examples I can think of for Unit Study is cooking. I used this approach with my son in the kitchen. Cooking involves many areas of homeschooling: reading, math, planning ahead, grocery list/shopping, measuring,hands-on doing, cleaning up and eating the final product!

Classical Study Method

“The ‘classical’ method began in the Middle Ages and was the approach used by some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are reason, record, research, relate,and rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study, and research take place.” (

I used some of this approach by using a list of books for my son to read. I also used Classical reading comprehension books. I used a bit of all the methods to teach my son. At first I had lists and lists and a time-table and schedule…whichwere tossed in the garbage on day three. It took a while to develop “Our Method”of homeschooling. If it was a beautiful spring day, we set aside the “plans”for the day and went on an impromptu field trip which might have been a museum,the zoo, or just to the closest wetland with a net, boots and jars for specimens (which were examined under a microscope at home). Upon returning home, my son would do a writing assignment describing what we did and what he learned. Many times something we encountered sparked his interest and we would study that area for a few days.

When he was a teenager, his older brother blew the engine on his car. My husband quickly developed a mechanical study and taught our son how to rebuild an engine. Our son learned to drywall and tape,make household repairs, sew, do laundry, and myriads of other useful things that expanded his education. He also took years of violin (his request), guitar(he chose classical guitar) and piano (my insistence since it was sitting in the dining room…)

What will you need?

Think of what you now buy your children before school starts: notepaper, construction paper, scrap paper, pencils,pens, crayons, colored pencils, finger paints, watercolors, aprons to protect clothing during art projects, stuff like beads, cotton balls, foam pieces to make crafts with, theme books, erasers, scissors, pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, glue bottles…whew, you get the picture. For preschoolers you will need coloring books or coloring pages to use when learning numbers and the alphabet. Do an internet search for ‘alphabetcoloring pages’. One good site I found is

You will also need what is referred to as “kindergarten paper” that has lines on it to teach printing the alphabet.(Download many different ‘papers’ from

You will need books, lots of books.Begin with the Bible. Read to your children every day. You will need simple books for beginning readers. You will need classics for older readers. This site has a good reading list – will need books to teach math, from basic adding and subtracting to multiplication and division, (you can download math pages from the internet, just put what type of math such as multiplication in the search box) to more advanced books that teach algebra, trigonometry and calculus.

You may have to go back to teaching using a slide rule as electronic helpers may not be available. In my opinion, buying a series of math books that includes a teacher’sinstruction book, answer book, test book and of course, the student book is agood way to go. We used Saxon Math ( to Algebra. For some reason, neither my husband (an engineer) nor my son could understand Saxon Math Algebra. So we switched to Math U See ( uses videos and instruction books. It also had the teacher’s manual, answer book and a textbook.

Don’tforget books to teach science, biology, geology, geography, astronomy, languages,art, music, reading comprehension “7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It” is good and can be found on Amazon.

Then there is history. BE VERY CAREFUL WHERE YOU GET YOUR HISTORY BOOKS (especially when it comes to American History)! Many current history books, and even those that go back 15-20 years, have had the history “altered’to be politically correct or to teach children false information for whatever reason. An Encyclopedia set from 30 years ago would be very valuable. We used a timeline from creation through present day. It was very similar to what is available on this site – We also covered the downfall of past civilizations and what led up to their demise.

You may also want to include books on first aid and emergency treatments (anatomy anyone?), animal husbandry, woodworking, ‘how itworks’ (great series of books on that subject) or what interests you and your family. Of course, some subjects need no book, such as gardening or cooking.Children learn working by our side and learn skills from us.

There are home school fairs every spring and fall where you can buy used curriculum and supplies.Check with a larger Baptist church for a home school group near you (for some reason, many Baptists home school). The contact person will be able to direct you to where to buy used books near you.

You will need a place to store your supplies (all together as much as possible!). It could be a room dedicated to schooling, with desks, bins, drawers, tables for crafts, etc. Or it could be a big bin or two to hold your books and supplies and your children work at the kitchen table. Book shelves are a necessity, in my opinion.

And you DO need a plan. There are homes chool planners out there that are fantastic and some that will make you pull your hair out. You could use a calendar that has lots of writing room. I used a daily planner for a few years that worked well for us. Some use a diary for each child, writing down what has been learned and accomplished. The more children, the more you need to plan! Some classes can be combined such as music and art or even history. You expect more from the older children, such as extra reading, book reports, or even having them write a paper.

If you think those of us who are past child-bearing age are off the hook, think again. Do you have grandchildren now or the possibility of grandchildren in the future? If your adult children are not prepping yet and you KNOW they will be on your doorstep when SHTF, what will you do to educate the grandkids? Is there a chance you may take in a child or children who have lost their parents? I believe that when hoards of people flee the cities, children,the elderly and the sick will be the first to die (those dependent on medications to keep them alive, those in nursing homes, those who are confined to wheelchairs or walkers).

I believe it will reach a point where children who cannot keep up will just be left behind. I have read stories of refugees in war-torn countries begging others to take their children to keep them safe.During the Holocaust, many Jewish children were given away by their parents to keep them from the concentration camps.

They found safety with local families and even in monasteries. After the war, many children were never re-united with their parents as they had perished in the concentration camps. Some were adopted by the families that gave them shelter; some went to the new Israel Nation as orphans; some were placed in orphanages in whatever country they were. Will we ever be in that position? Would we turn away an orphaned child? These are hard questions, but they need to be thought about and we need to know the answer in our hearts.

I know that I have barely skimmed the surface regarding homeschooling. I am sure there are folks out there that are better experts than me. Oh, and I am sure I will hear from those who are opposed to home-schooling! Ask yourselves this – when civilization as we know it stops,should we stop educating our children? We may be very busy at first just surviving; but there will come a time when we will need to do this.

Be prepared. Be ready.

This contest will end on August 7 2012 – prizes include:

First Place : 1 Year Subscription to AlertsUSA, 1 Radiation Safety Package consisting of the following;  (1) NukAlert Radiation Monitor and Alarm (5) Radsticker Peel and Stick Dosimeters (1) Box Thyro Safe Potassium Iodide. All courtesy of AlertsUSA. A $150 gift certificate for Federal Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo. And a British Berkefeld water fillter system courtesy of  LPC Survival. A total prize value of over $700.

Second Place : A six pack Entrée Assortment courtesy of Augason Farms, a Nukalert courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply and a WonderMill Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $550.

Third Place : A copy of each of my books “31 Days to Survival” and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of The Survivalist Blog dot Net and “Kelly McCann’s Inside the Crucible Set” courtesy of Paladin Press. A total prize value of over $200.

Contest ends on August 7 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Homeinsteader says:

    Thoughtfully written practical advice, Encourager. When the SHTF, do you REALLY want bored kids who think life is ONLY about the physical work required to live self-sustainably? They’re going to WANT to have “school”. And you’re going to want them to have it! It will be of the utmost importance to have as much “normalcy” as possible, until the “new normal” becomes the accepted pattern of life. This will keep people, pets, everyone – calmer.

    These same principles will hold true for adults, in many ways. You need to NOW collect HARD-COPY books on whatever may interest you for the future; you will not be able to get them much longer. Electronics are not the answer for a long-term grid down. You also need books you can “share”, and that will be difficult if they are all on a Kindle.

    Well done, Encourager, and thank you!

    • Encourager says:

      You are welcome, Homeinsteader! Seriously, I type better than the above! Don’t know what happened to all my spacing! Sorry folks!!

  2. JP in MT says:

    Even though we don’t have children at the house, we may have grandchildren or others with us. My wife and I are big readers so we have a large collection of books. Over the years we have picked up a few primers in reading and math. ALso the Bible was a mainstay of education in this country for 350+ years, and we have one or two copies of that here.

  3. Well done Encourager!
    In many cultures the grandparents were left with the children while the parents worked. So we are NOT off the hook!
    My children are fortunate to a have a great school system, fantastic caring teachers and they adore going to school.
    However, I would not hesitate to home school them if needed, and I did for my oldest for a short time.
    I have been collecting home school books and supplies for years, and have at times used them for references to help my own kids with their homework.

    I remember making payments for 2 years on a beautiful set of Encylopedias. The month I made the last payment the internet came to our area. Well shucks. I kept them anyway, and made the kids learn to use them. Time Life books are fabulous learning tools and I see them constantly at thrift stores and garage sales. Library’s often sell educational books by the pound.

    I can’t believe the home school debates/public school debates I have heard!
    Why do some folks have to be so condesending and ridged!
    That could fill up an entire article in itself.

    • Homeinsteader says:

      Those encyclopedias you spent two years paying for may one day be worth a brick of gold per book, Mama J! Well done!

  4. Grimreefer says:

    do not forget that the current schooling we put kids into .. public and privet is ment to make them sheep. prushian schooling iirc. look it up and learn what schools do to kids in making them blindly follow orders.

    • Grimreefer,
      I would be interested to know where and what kind of schools you are referring to. So we can all stear clear of those. It sounds like some of the fundie religious schools that some of my family and friends survived.
      I volunteer and occasionally sub in our school district because I like to be involved in what my kids are particpating in.
      Our teachers and admin encourage kids to be respectful free thinkers who are responsible (along with their parents) to contribute to their own education. Do they need to be on time, participate and do the work? Indeed. Does that make them sheepole factories. NO.

      The Prussian compulsory concept is not really valid as it once was. But, let’s face it. Most children need and like structure, with some fun free wheeling time in between.
      Teachers do not want to teach children to be be submissive robots. Not the ones I have worked with.

      Parents make or allow their children sheep. Not the school system.

  5. tommy2rs says:

    Excellent article. My mother was a teacher so I have teachers edition textbooks from as far back as the fifties up through the seventies as well as two sets of Encyclopedias sitting in boxes waiting in case I need them for my grandkids. Even have some really old textbooks (20’s and 30’s) from my mother’s family.

    Might also consider teaching critical thinking courses and the abacus as well as the slide rule. The abacus can replace 10 key adding machines and cash registers in a grid down situation. And it’s easy enough to build. Beads, wire and a wooden frame.

    • Encourager says:

      We have a very old set of encyclopedias that my husband used as a child. I agree the abacus is a great idea. Make it the first ‘art’ project and let each child make their own. And yes, critical thinking is a must.

  6. Great job! As a secondary teacher for 24 years, education is not what it was when I started teaching (took a couple of years off for the kids when young). I would also suggest journaling and foldables. Students enjoy creating a project with what they have learned. There are also lap books for younger students to make.

    I have kept my old college books, good science books that I have used in the past, and others that I can get when they get ready to discontinue the adoption.

    I also buy lots of dollar store books for the grandkids to work out of when they come to visit. Many of our students in regular school have lost the creativity they had when younger. Learning should be a joy and not boring and regurgitation of facts.

    Great article and I know you are a great teacher to your children.

    • Encourager says:

      Thanks, Maji ! My teaching days are over (at least for now!) Said son is 25, just graduated from college this spring and has moved three states away with Lake Michigan between us because it was the only place he could find a job. I woke up this morning dreaming of him…sure do miss that man! I need to see his happy, smiling face…and soon!

      • Encourager says:

        LOL. Guess who called last night and spent almost an hour on the phone with me! It was wonderful ~~ and he is going to try and fly home for a long weekend, maybe Labor Day. Can’t wait!!!!

  7. Interesting thing is that depending on how severe the SHTF is , what is considered important to learn will change dramatically in a worse case situation . Yuppie skills will fall away in favor of manufacturing and agriculture . Not much use for a stock broker when the number one needed profession is in food production . People will have to learn to get their hands dirty again as the TV remote will no longer work and sitting on the couch all day is a distant memory .

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Some truth to that T.R., but my son the Marine was raised preparing to be a good citizen and possibly to serve in the military (which he chose to do). I and others him trained in the martial arts including Shorin-Ryu karate, shinkendo, combatives and firearms. The Japanese samurai traditions stressed the importance of also training up one’s intellect and to find an interest in fine arts as important to being a well balanced warrior. Though by vocation my son is a warrior and would likely have a security/military function in a post Apocalyptic society, he will always appreciate having and continuing to develop a knowledge base beyond that required for his job.
      Whether a blacksmith, farrier, farmer, soldier, etc,additional knowledge and an appreciation for the arts makes a more rounded and versatile citizen. And in terms of society as a whole, continuing education and passing on the torch of accumulated knowledge is very important.
      Though T.R. does has a point about things like courses of study involving subjects such as the relationship of breast feeding versus bottle feeding to one’s future potential in major league baseball or gender orientation {I just hate baseball, sorry}.
      Some fields of study may have to lie dormant ’till society rebuilds to its current screwed up level. And some may just have to fade away…..

      • SurvivorDan says:

        Oh!…..and nice article Encourager. You put a lot of thought and effort into it. Sounds like you did a fine job with your boy.
        I never thought about having to take in an orphan. Maybe I should consider some educational materials. Even a box of such combined with my ridiculous number of books would be helpful.

        • Homeinsteader says:

          Taking in orphans was so common in WWII, why wouldn’t it be necessary in the coming war? And it IS coming. Soon and very soon – to a “theater” near you! : )

      • Homeinsteader says:

        SD: ” ’till society builds to its current screwed up level.” – now there’s something to look forward to! (And we would, given the opportunity; no doubt!).

      • Survivor Dan, what was the last two paragraphs of your post about? Jeff

    • Homeinsteader says:

      TR: Yup!

  8. Wow; a very thoughtful and intuitive article. There is mention for A LOT of supplies that many people do not have. As mentioned before, the level of impact in a SHTF scenario would also have a lot to do with the education of children. I cannot see parents hauling a microscope, slides, or other academia products along with items for continued “survival” day-to-day.

    I believe the level of planning outlined in the article, while a great topic and well thought out, it would only be realistic after some form or balance of normalcy and community has been attained. Based on the methods determined for teaching, any adult that is an expert in some task or skill can be a “teacher” for that subject of the day or week, but until this consistent balance has been reached, where it takes a village to raise a child, “the school of hard knocks” may be the best, if not only method of learning.

    Once a ‘community’ has been established, then resources can be pooled, scavenged, and otherwise acquired from abandoned buildings, schools and libraries (if they even exist) and begin with a viable program, this would be a great preparation item.

  9. Prepping Preacher says:

    my wife and i homeschooled the younger 3 of our 5 children… with that said, we are gathering(preppping) materials to be used for homeschooling should the impending disaster strike down our nation’s infrastructure to the point of needful long-term(potentially decades) recovery… we won’t out-live the “down time” but hope to help prepare those younger than ourselves to properly do the job of educating the children with HEAVY influence on our English KJV Bible, Constitution and Bill of Rights…

  10. Homeinsteader says:

    Well done, PP!

  11. Homeinsteader says:

    Some headlines you may want to look at: July 31, 2012

    India hit by second grid collapse in two days: 620 million without power in larger outage

    Storms cause widespread power failure across Pakistan: protests against outages turn violent

    Study says western North America faces 21st Century ‘Mega-drought’

    Severe heatwave: drought and wildfires destroy Russian harvest – yes, this will affect our grain prices!

    Russia is currently in the grips of an extremely strong heat wave. City and town residents are suffocating from the sweltering heat. For example, it is about 30 degrees in Moscow with prospects of the thermometer going up in the next few days. The heat wave situation is aggravated by wild fires producing clods of poisonous smoke. The wood rich Siberian taiga near Krasnoyarsk is fighting 83 fires on the territory of 12.130 hectares. As for rural Russia, that only last year was the world’s third-biggest grain producer, it suffers colossal damages. It threats to destroy a significant part of the crops. If last year’s harvest amounted to 94 million tons, this year it is a predicted at 80 to 85 million. Given the situation, earlier in July the Agriculture Ministry had to revise its harvest predictions. As Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes, the hardest hit are the important grain-producing areas (read rest of article at site)

    Europe wrestles with searing high temperatures (30 deg C = 86 deg. F)

    This, too, will affect food prices:

    Italy battles heat wave: The heat wave affecting much of Italy has resulted in an average 10% reduction in national milk output, according to the Italian agricultural union Coldiretti. In some regions, more severely affected, this is as high as 50% down. Dairy farmers are taking steps to cool their cows, including the use of fans in barns and sprinkling the animals with light jets of water, it said. Corn, tomato, beet and sunflower crops have been damaged across the country and some areas have received no rain for months, the Rome-based agricultural union said in an e-mailed statement today. –Agra Net, Bloomberg

    Romania is also experiencing a severe heat wave and drought.

    Little Rock, Ar. hits third highest temperature ever recorded: 111 F (our mountain BOL hit 109!)

    Mysterious blood rain falls again from skies over Kerala, India (not the first time)

    That “2 or 3%” food price increase our gubment published? Don’t count it. Count on more like 20-30%, and maybe even higher. Just be ready….

  12. Homeinsteader says:
  13. Homeinsteader says:

    WOO-HOO! No more junk mail?! We should be so lucky…

    Post Office Nears Historic Default on $5B Payment

  14. Homeinsteader says:

    From Arutz Sheva 7/31/2012:

    Don’t be surprised if fuel prices skyrocket immediately, “bluffing” or not.

    1. Ahmadinejad Threatens – or Bluffs – To Halt Oil Exports
    by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Bluff or Threat? Ahmadinejad To Halt Oil Exports

    Whether bluff or bluster, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for a total halt to cure oil exports, a move that could be economic suicide but also could cause a worldwide depression. Iran relies on oil for approximately 80 percent of its foreign income, which Ahmadinejad needs to continue his race for nuclear capability.

    Iranian media, controlled by the government, reported Tuesday that he accused world powers of manipulating the oil industry and that halting exports of crude oil would put pressure on oil producers. ”The real price of oil should have been very much higher in the market than what it is presently,” he said.

    Ahmadinejad made his remarks at a dedication of two large projects at Tehran’s Shahid Tondgoyan oil refinery. He added that the Shahid Tondgoyan oil refinery was the first refinery being fully completed by Iranian experts and is an “indication of the complete nationalization of Iran’s oil industry.”

    “Enemies of Iran could not tolerate the country has found access to the knowledge of producing and meeting all its demand,” he added.

    For all of his threats, Ahmadinejad’s comments may reflect both a growing concern that the sanctions are working and the need to win over doubters at home, where the economy is suffering from sanctions despite his mocking the United States and its allies.

    Iranian crude exports have fallen sharply because of U.S. and European Union sanctions aimed at starving Tehran of vital oil revenues for its disputed nuclear program by banning imports of both Iranian crude and refined products, Reuters reported.

    Washington has prohibited U.S. companies from trading in all Iranian oil products for years, while the EU banned its companies from importing crude and refined products from July 1.

    Until 2007, Iran’s inadequate refinery infrastructure and rising demand made it increasingly dependent on imported gasoline – a vulnerability Western powers have targeted by banning fuel sales to the country, the news agency added.

    Ahmadinejad said at the refinery that the Western sanctions are “ridiculous,” bragging that Western countries “use oil as a political weapon against a country that is an oil producer itself.”

    The U.S. Congress last week approved a new set of sanctions on Iran’s energy and shipping industry.

  15. Encourager says:

    Our gas prices went up nearly 30 cents overnight. WTH????
    Any excuse, any tiny storm, (oh, yeah, it rained last night…) up goes the gas prices.

  16. Southern Belle says:

    Great article. I have been collecting educational material for my children for a while now. It is very important to be able to continue educating our kids in case something happens. I have had great success at thrift stores, second hand book shops, and garage sales as well. When looking to purchase school supplies, look for deals right after public school starts. There will be great sales on these items so you can stock up. I have bought crayons for as little as 10 cents a box and glue sticks for 1 cent each. Best of luck to you!

  17. I can home school my children. But the Fun stuff is getting prepped. They have a Ton of Fun!

    Check the little hobbits out on my blog if you have time.

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