Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Does Prepping = Homeschooling? And vice versa?

I was a homeschooler long before I was a prepper. Our family chooses to homeschool our children mainly for academic reasons. We seek to provide our children with an excellent, individualized education. Our desire for family togetherness and flexibility follows in close second. We also seek to develop our children's relationship with the Lord. I've never seen a formal poll, but it seems to me that a lot of preppers/survivalists homeschool their children. I know at least three of the blogs that I read regularly are headed up by homeschoolin' mamas.

If you prep, does that automatically mean you should homeschool?

Reasons to homeschool if you're a prepper:

  1. Preppers are independent by nature. 
Preppers know that they cannot rely on others for the essentials of life. They have found that anything the government is involved in is going to get messed up. Most parents can do a much better job teaching their children than any brick and mortar school. Keep in mind that I used to teach at one of the top high schools in the country, so I'm not slamming those educators out there that are doing their best with a tough job. It is honestly a lot easier to teach your own children, catering to their own abilities and learning styles than it is to pound education into the heads of a class of 39 hormonal teenagers. Or so I've found.

   2.  You can design your family's curriculum to teach your children the skills
        you deem essential.

The SurvivalMom takes advantage of her flexible homeschooling schedule to fit in   target practice with her youngsters. Organized Prepper's family engages in "Family Fun" activities like building a box oven. My own darling offspring are learning how to cook and garden. These are not only essential survival and life skills but they also have the side benefit of teaching math and science. As our lifestyle becomes more self-reliant, our children will learn many new skills at our side. If you are always at the beck and call of the school schedule, you may find your children's lives are more filled with homework than homesteading.

  3.   Your children more likely to be near you during an emergency.

This is probably not a super important reason to homeschool, but it is a benefit. As a preparedness-minded person, you are much more likely to be able to keep your children safe in an emergency than some poor overworked soul in a run-down school building. Contrary to popular opinion, homeschooled children aren't cloistered at home with mom all day, every day, but you do have a higher likelihood with being with your children than most parents of school-age children.

Reasons to NOT homeschool:

1. You need two incomes to support your family.

Some people manage to both work full time and homeschool. All it takes is a little ingenuity and flexibility. Others think the sacrifice of one income is well worth the benefits of homeschooling. But perhaps you are barely making ends meet. Or maybe you're a single parent already spread too thin. Those are cases where it would be most challenging to introduce homeschooling into the mix.

2. You don't want to spend time with your children.

OK, so I could have worded that better. The truth is that homeschooling parents are no better or worse than other parents. We all have days when we fantasize about putting our children on the big yellow bus and merrily waving goodbye. I often lack every single one of the nine fruits of the spirit, particularly patience and self-control. I always manage to pull it back together some how, though. When it comes down to it, I am always glad I homeschool.

And if you do homeschool, how should prepping affect it?

Things to think about:
  • Consider buying your curriculum ahead of time. If TEOTWAWKI  happens, obtaining curriculum will be the least of your worries, but if you already have it on hand your children will be able to get an education. An education will always be worthwhile.
  • You might also think about the kind of curriculum you invest in. We use Sonlight for our primary curriculum needs. The vast majority of it is non-consumable, which means it can be used for multiple children. We have shelves of wonderful literature that all of my children will get to enjoy as they go through their education.
  • A lot of homeschoolers use computerized curriculums. If you have no power, you will be unable to do school. That's something to think about. The Thinker's math curriculum is computerized and if we were without power for a long time, we'd have to come up with an alternative.
  • Approach electives with preparedness in mind. We encourage our children to pursue things that are of special interest to them. In addition to the sports and music they are already involved in, we are going to join 4-H. This will give them valuable skills in many preparedness-related areas.
  • Think about life insurance. The current recommendation is that you have 10x your annual salary in life insurance. Would you have enough money to continue homeschooling and maintain your current standard of living if your spouse should pass away? 
Obviously, homeschooling, like prepping, is not "normal" or "average". Both, however, are getting to be a bit more mainstream. For our family, both are part of our way of life.


  1. I love this point of view! Having the kids at home is a lifestyle for us now, and anything else seems strange. I would add to your list that homeschooling makes transitions and crises easier to handle in the sense that kids are never uprooted from one school and placed in a new setting. In the case of an epidemic or local disaster, school can continue merrily along without any worries about missed work or extra days extended into the summer months.

    Thanks for such a great post!

  2. What a thought-provoking post this is! I have been mulling it over since you wrote and have come to realize just how seamlessly prepping fits into our homeschool lifestyle. Prepping provides a perfect venue for discussing the economy, government, self-reliance, budgets, and home finance, in addition to the home arts. I can only imagine that knowing how to cook and garden will be skills that will last my kids a lifetime.