Training Children, Part 2

June 15, 2011

Book Reviews, Children

As preppers, we probably have a broader definition of “useful skills” than many people.  Certainly our children are learning how to cook, spend wisely, and help with household tasks, but we try to provide many other learning opportunities as well.

Homesteading Skills

Many of these times are provided at home where they may help with a plumbing project, learn how to ground an electric fence, or build a coop with us.  The children receive training in the importance of keeping up with and putting away tools, the necessity of doing your best job (not a “got it done” job), and following a project to completion.  (As Joe likes to say, “A fence 95% finished is 0% effective”).

Great Organizations

We also participate in Scouts and 4-H.  Those organizations provide fantastic opportunities to camp outdoors, craft things by hand, read maps, raise animals, organize thoughts and speak in front of peers, and so on.

Noteworthy Literature

We often listen to audio books as we run errands (especially since everywhere we go is a minimum 20 minute drive).   Sometimes they are just-for-fun things, but most often they tie into our homeschool study and have life lessons also.

Recently, we listened to Call It Courage, a classic story about a boy who must overcome his fears to become a man worthy of respect and honor in his culture.  It had several survival and problem-solving aspects to it that we discussed often, sometimes at the dinner table in the evenings.  The children wanted to listen to it again immediately after we finished it.

Another non-fiction story we recently heard was Richard of Jamestown.  It chronicled the attempt of English noblemen trying to set up a colony in the New World.   Most of them refused to do any work, insisting it was beneath them.  They thought they should have the liberty to search for gold for their own profit while reaping the benefits of others’ labors without cost to themselves.  We had good long conversations about the foolhardy government they set up that gave everyone equal access to the products of the colony no matter how hard they worked.  As we predicted along the way in the story, the lazy colonists quickly realized they could do nothing and eat well while the hard workers quit working because they had to give away the proceeds of their efforts to the sluggards.

There are lots of good books out there that I may give more info about in the future, but I do want to mention one more here.  Our family often reads aloud before bed.  One of the books that we enjoyed very much was Hatchet by Gary Paulson.  It is a survival story of a boy who finds himself in the Canadian wilderness.  It takes bravery and ingenuity to make it alone.

His successes and mistakes provide fodder for good discussions, but a key skill Brian finally masters is catching, cleaning, and cooking a ptarmigan (bird).  This prompted our oldest son to decide for himself (to our surprise) that he was ready to learn how to process chickens with us because that was a skill worth having.  He was only about 8 at the time.

I hope to expand on this more topic in a future piece, but for now, suffice it to say that you need to identify the skills your children may need to operate in a world different than the one we enjoy now and then look for opportunities to learn those skills for themselves.

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9 Comments on “Training Children, Part 2”

  1. Beck Says:

    Your son really seemed to enjoy “reading” the map the last time I took him to meet you half way between our homes. We picked up a map along the way and he guided us all the way. I told him that I had done the same thing with his cousin when he was younger. Your son said that it really made the trip go faster and there were no “How much further?” comments from him either.

    I’ll leave the chicken processing skills to you’ll since you’ll are a lot better qualified than I am in that area.


  2. Meagan Says:

    I recently came across your site and have enjoyed reading your book reviews (lots of new stuff for my reading list). Since this one mentioned some books for children I thought I would mention two that I read as a child. First was “My Side of The Mountain”. It sounds like it may be similar to hatchet, but as a child it instantly turned me into a fan of survival fiction. I recently found a copy at a thrift store and will be re-reading it again. 🙂 Another that I loved was “The Island of the Blue Dolphins”, which I read multiple times I loved it so much. Definitely worth checking out! Thanks and keep up the great reviews!



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