SnoMan over at Survival News Online has a list of five things children should know before they are twelve years old, which he says he based on a survey of survival experts. SnoMan makes some really good points about how our society doesn't expect enough out of our children. His video at the end of the post has the list of five things children should know before they are twelve as he explains each skill. I don't often take posts from other bloggers and tear them down. That's really not what my blog is about, however, I felt it was important to offer an alternative. Mostly because I don't want moms out there feeling guilty because their kids don't know these things or spooked out of the preparedness community because their kids don't know these things. Here is his list and the reasons I disagree with the majority of skills he listed. Many of these skills depend on the child and where they live. It's not going to be exactly the same for every child.
SnoMan's List of Five Things Kids Should Know Before They Are 12:
- Fish and Hunt: This is SnoMan's number five skill a child should know before he's twelve years old. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that a twelve year old children should not know these things. I'm saying it should not be on a list of top five skills. If you were going to choose to teach a child to fish and hunt over other skills that's where I have the problem. If a child knows the other five skills and also knows how to fish and hunt then good for him. The idea behind this skill is that a child can feed himself if he can fish and hunt. Well, that means he's got to make a fire. Some kids under twelve are responsible enough to do this on their own and some are not. I have one of each in my family. Also, depending on the circumstances a fire might call unwanted attention to your child.
- First Aid: I totally agree with SnoMan on this skill. See below.
- How to Swim: Knowing how to swim is a good skill to have but I would not put it in the top five skills in a general list. This skill is important depending on where you live. If you have a pool in your backyard or live near water then yes, it should be in the top three. Some defining of terms is in order here. All my boys can swim enough to get themselves out of a pool. Would I call that swimming? No! I consider swimming a skill in which a person could rescue themselves and others under harsh conditions. I think SnoMan would agree with me since in his video he talks about getting out of freezing water.
- How to Get Home: Again, I totally agree with SnoMan on this. See below.
- Gun Safety: This is the number one skill on SnoMan's list. In his video he even goes through all his gun safety tips explaining that by the time a child is five or six years old they should be shooting a gun. Really?? Before I go any further let me say that I am pro-gun and a gun owner. However, there are no circumstances under which a five or six year old child should handle a gun! SnoMan does explain that this skill could be as simple as the child knowing they should not touch a gun. He did say his one and two year old children know not to touch a gun. Well, that's not a skill. When my children were one and two years old they knew not to go in the street, and I did not consider that a skill. All children should know not to touch a gun unless they know gun safety. I'm not saying you have to wait until you're twelve years old to shoot a gun. It really depends on the child. Not all ten year old children are ready to handle a gun. All three of my boys have shot a gun and know basic gun safety but that is not the number one skill to teach a child before they are twelve.
My General List of Five Skills a Child Should Know by the Time They Are 12:
- How to forage for food: My kids are vegetarians so hunting for wild game is not going to help them much. If children know which plants they can eat and which ones are poisonous they can stay alive. You might also have a circle of life conversation about what bugs can be eaten. We do not eat bugs but we do have conversations about which bugs can be eaten and which ones will hurt you. If I were hungry enough, grasshoppers would look appetizing. Letting my kids know that gives them the information and the "permission" to eat grasshoppers if they are starving.
- How To Stay Warm Without a Fire: Fire can be dangerous for even the most mature kids and might not always be available, just because a child knows how to start a fire does not mean he will have all the necessary materials when he needs to stay warm. Teaching a child to bury themselves under leaves or how to make shelter is more important than teaching a child how to make a fire. I'd also like to mention the opposite of staying warm which is staying cool. Here in Texas a child can die of heat stroke or exhaustion. Knowing how to get out of severe weather for the area you live in falls under this skill.
- First Aid: As soon as kids are old enough to understand the concepts of basic first aid they should be taught, and even more they should be the "medic" in the family for bandaging up anyone who needs first aid. We've always done this with our boys. My older son administers first aid to everyone. Now, my middle son is beginning to take over and soon my youngest son will take over. This gives them the skill and the practice.
- How to get water: If children know how to get water from a spring, collect it from tree leaves with a plastic bag or find another resource they are more likely to stay alive. Remember you can go two to three weeks without food but only three days without water.
- How to Get Home: A child knowing their address and phone number and where to go to get help is a skill all children should have as soon as they are able to understand the concepts. My children learned my phone number and our address early because they were always around when I gave it out to people (an advantage to homeschooling). Since they were always around I started letting them give it to the person who was asking me. This gave them repeated practice with the information. Also, knowing how to get in touch with authorities is a part of this skill if they are lost in a city or other public place. They should have a basic understanding of direction and how the sun moves in the sky. Most experts will say that if anyone is lost in a wilderness the best thing to do is hug a tree and stay put. I tend to agree but you still have to get water and forage for food. Basic directional skill will help a child get back to the tree they are suppose to be hugging. Or if they are like a lot of children and think they've waited long enough and that no one is coming to rescue them, knowing basic direction gives them a fighting chance.
What do you think? What are the top five skills a child should know before they are 12? Click over to Mom with a Prep and Palmetto Prepper to see what they have to say on this subject. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think! I would love to hear your side of the conversation.