Ask any survival-minded adult why they’re into preparedness, and they’ll likely offer at least a half-dozen reasons. Ask a child why there’s a closet filled with cans of tuna and buckets of wheat, and there’s no telling what answer they’ll give. Depending on what they’ve been taught, those supplies may be a constant reminder of a foreboding future, full of threats and uncertainty. On the other hand, stored food, stockpiled ammo, and 55 gallon water containers may be accepted as a natural part of life, along with the understanding that these supplies exist to help out in an emergency.
Children fear what they don’t understand. When a difficult concept such as preparedness is presented in a creative way, at their level, it helps them feel reassured and satisfied. Here are five creative ways to teach this concept to your children in ways that will reinforce important concepts and include a lot of fun along the way.
- When you explain your preparedness efforts, use examples from children’s literature that children of all ages can relate to. The story of Joseph from the Bible is an excellent example of preparing for difficult times and then being able to provide for others in need. The Little House on the Prairie book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder follows a pioneer family through good times and bad. Each book is a great source of information about practical skills from hand-stitching to making homemade butter to smoking wild game as well as great examples of self-sufficiency. If your children are very young, Little House picture books are available at the library and in bookstores.
- Teach practical skills. Kids should know how to cook, clean, and scrub the kitchen floor! Learning how to mend ripped jeans or do laundry isn’t child abuse. They’re real life skills that teach independence and instill a healthy work ethic. Older children can be taught target shooting, how to put up a tent and how to start a campfire. I’m all in favor plentiful play time, but children also need to learn skills and knowledge that are truly worth learning.
- Children naturally love learning about animals and there’s no better source for examples of preparedness than the animals they’re already familiar with. Bears, squirrels and other forest animals get ready for the winter. Geese begin a long trek south when they sense that cold weather is near. Did you know that prairie dogs purposely mound up the earth around the entrances to their homes so rain doesn’t flood their burrows? My own children love The Burgess Book of Animals, which uses entertaining stories to teach facts about dozens of animals.
- Keep an eye on current events. Don’t focus on details that might terrify your kids, but if the Weather Channel is reporting on an approaching hurricane, for example, talk about the steps families in those areas should be taking.
- Participate in activities that teach or reinforce preparedness. Scout programs and 4-H are ideal for children to learn some terrific practical skills and socialize with other like-minded kids. You just can’t beat that combination.
Everyone loves learning something new, especially when there’s fun involved. Keep your lessons about preparedness casual, creative, and fun. Your kids will discover the future isn’t something to be feared and will figure that everyone in the neighborhood must also have boxes of freeze-dried food under every bed!