Growing up I was definitely a woodland child.
I grew up running around in the dirt, exploring the woods, the child of a poultry farmer. I grew up knowing how to slaughter a chicken or a turkey, and by the second grade I could detail every part of the process for someone. This was not often a skill set that most adults or other children in our area thought was useful, or something that a child my age should know.
I learned quickly from the reactions of other children, from the reactions of other adults besides my father that I was STRANGE.
It is funny that people would cast judgement on a child for knowing valuable life skills as far as survival is concerned, but I suppose that if you were to look at the generation that I am part of, it is certainly no surprise. Most of the people in my generation have NO life skills.
So if I knew that I was judged as a child for knowing these things, why would I want to teach children these same skills.
The answer is simple, BECAUSE no matter what anyone thinks, no matter what anyone says, these skills are valuable life skills, skills of survival.
Where do I begin?
Teaching them to love the outdoors. I take my boys out on nature walks at least once a week. I take them out and just ask them questions about what they see, what they hear. I use our walks to spark the curiosity inside of them, get their minds thinking about all of the other things that could be out there, that maybe are out there.
We try to find things, when the two older boys Jonah and Asher were small, and now with Joshua who is small, we start with acorns, pine cones, pebbles. As they started growing we began looking for animal tracks. Wild Turkeys are extremely prevalent in this area, and small children aren’t typically very scared of turkey, so they are a good animal to start with. As they have grown we’ve increased the number of animal tracks that we have taught them. They now know coyote, white tail deer, and raccoon as well.
More recently we’ve been teaching the older boys how to build basic shelters in the woods. Making sure that we continue to re-enforce with them skills that they should know if they are to ever get lost or separated from us in the woods. Teaching them that if that were to ever happen they should stay as close as they can to where they are. Set themselves up under the base of a tree as they can. Teaching them how to make a simple lean-to.
Program them for the outside NOT the inside!
It would be a lie if I told you that our children have never played a video game, it would be a lie if I told you my children don’t know how to use a smart phone, or have a tablet. But the trick to raising woodland children is teaching them that these items are simply that.
Items, NOT necessities, or our entire life.
They ask all the time if they can play video games, but the trick is that when they ask, we offer OUTSIDE! The moment that I offer them the outdoors they immediately forget that they even wanted to play video games in the first place. We set clear boundaries and limits when it comes to electronics.
As they continue to grow their skill sets will continue to grow. They too will learn more about growing their own food. They already know that the food at the store comes from a farm, they even know that we can go to our own garden and get food. But as they continue to learn they will learn how to grow that food. They will also learn to harvest their own meat through hunting. These children will grow up being more than just outdoorsy children, they will grow up to be the next generation of farmers and hunters and carry on traditions that have been handed down.
It is our RESPONSIBILITY…
as their parents to set them up to be able to take care of themselves as adults, and to be able to take care of those around them. To teach them the responsibilities of being adults. We could teach them that they can go to a store and get food, but what good would that do if for some reason there were no more stores? Now we are certainly not preppers by any means but it is something to think about.
“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”
– Lao Tzu
What are your thoughts readers?
Do you raise woodland children?