By Jenny Underwood, Crosswalk.com
Homeschooling and Self-Sufficiency Go Hand in Hand
Many people these days are reconsidering an age-old lifestyle called self-sufficiency. This has led some back to the land, others off-grid, and some to open small businesses. But it has also led many to pursue homeschooling. Why? Because homeschooling and self-sufficiency are two parts of the same puzzle. What is that puzzle? It's simply the desire to become more self-reliant, resilient, and independent.
First, let's define self-sufficient. The dictionary defines it as needing no outside help in satisfying one's basic needs, especially with regard to the production of food.1 Now, I don't actually know anyone who is completely self-sufficient, though I'm sure there are a few, but I do know many people working towards that goal. Most people will need some outside assistance from a community to survive, but the more independent we can be as individuals, the better off everyone is. This leads us to homeschooling.
Homeschooling is inherently independent and self-reliant. While you may utilize many resources for your schooling, the job of training and teaching your children is ultimately in your hands. It's similar to buying seed or fertilizers from others for the purpose of growing your own fruits and vegetables. There is some outside input, but the labor and rewards belong to you and your family.
Training your children to become more self-reliant starts with your lifestyle. Do you depend on someone else for everything you need? Do you allow your children to always depend on others or encourage them to try and succeed or fail on their own? Taking small steps to develop an independent spirit in your children is well worth the trouble.
A good area to start with both you and your children is food production. While it might not be possible for you to grow all your own food, there are areas we can control. What does this teach children? It helps return their connection to the land and provides practical skills such as gardening, foraging, butchering, food preservation, and of course, cooking. It can provide a buffer in tight months and help conserve money. Everyone can benefit from these skills.
We don't want to overlook God's provision. In fact, that is the backbone of self-sufficiency. While some may feel that self-sufficiency takes away from relying on God's provision, in fact, the opposite is true. God has laid out specific ground rules in the Bible for successful living. And contrary to some, it doesn't necessarily produce riches, but it does produce sufficiency. And while God "could" miraculously bless individuals with all of their needs through no work of their own, it's rarely His way. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 clearly says if one does not work, he shouldn't eat. (This obviously doesn't apply to individuals who are incapable of work.) Proverbs reiterates the differences between a sluggard and a diligent man, and we are encouraged to consider the ant who prepares for the next season.
It's just as important to teach our children to prepare for the future in areas such as food independence as it is for financial independence. Train your children in a wide range of skills that they can use to reduce their need for outside help. A few areas you might consider are small-scale (or large-scale) farming, livestock, gardening, mechanic work, carpentry, electrician work, and basic maintenance around the home.
Remember, if you have a problem and can't fix it, you'll have to pay someone to do it and depend on their timeline. Perhaps instead of constantly trying to figure out how we can make more money, the goal should be how can we reduce the amount of money we need!
Ultimately, we are all individuals, and how you view self-reliance might be completely different from how I do. And that's all right! Long ago, pioneers took a wagon train across our huge country and carved out a new life in the Rockies or Dakotas. And others, like my family, settled in the Ozark mountains and procured a living from the rocky hills there. It looked different in some ways but produced hardy, resilient people regardless. My dad said his family never knew there was a Great Depression, as they lived basically the same as before. They provided for almost all their simple needs on their small farm. They supported their local businesses and lived a work ethic that was enviable.
Let us each strive to become more self-reliant and bless our children with that mindset and lifestyle. I have no doubt it will benefit them far more than the latest gadgets, clothes, and toys!
Copyright 2022, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the author. Originally appeared in the Winter 2022-23 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.
Jenny Underwood is a homeschool mom to four lively blessings. She enjoys reading, gardening, and learning new things. She and her husband have been married for over twenty years and live on a fifth-generation homestead in the rural Missouri Ozark foothills. You can find her at www.inconvenientfamily.com, blogging about homeschooling and parenting.