If your child were lost in the wilderness, can they survive? Would they have the skills to keep themselves safe until help has arrived? Take this quiz with your child to find out if they have the survival skills for the wild!
Having basic survival skills makes the world a much less scary place for our children! Many parents or educators may be wondering about the need for our children to learn these skills as children will always be supervised by adults and never be placed in the forest alone. Learning basic survival skills, even if our children may never need them, will increase their self-confidence, becoming empowered people who will excel in life; no matter what life throws their way Top 5 essential survival skills that OSS thinks that it is important for young children.
1) Risk Assessment
Risk assessment is the most basic yet important survival skill for our young children. Many times, we took it for granted that risk assessment falls under the category of ‘common sense’. This is the biggest misconception that many people have. Let's think about it, if the children have not been taught this skill and practiced it before, how would that be "common sense" for them? As educators, start by creating more opportunities for children to be engaged in risk assessment exercises. Example, during your walk with your children in the park, invite them to point out the hazards and risks around, and encourage them to share with you what the mitigating actions needed are (if any). You may also want to assure them that there is no right or wrong answer and what matters is their explanations.
Through this experience, children have the opportunity to apply and hone their safe judgement skills. When they are engaged in these experiences regularly, they become more self aware of their own abilities (what i can do and what i can't do), as well as the environment around them. This in turn develops their self and situational awareness. It may not be easy in the beginning, but trust us, after a few rounds of exercises, your children will surprise you! We were pretty surprised by our young explorers in Outdoor School Singapore!
2) Knot tying
Never underestimate the power of knot tying! Knot tying is deemed as one of the important survival skills in the wild as it can be used in so many life-saving situations. Example, in shelter building, food hunting, creating equipment and traps, etc. In addition, it is a core skill that not only builds capacity and competence which allows more elaborate play to happen, but also contributes to the development of the foundations required for so many other important skills (like reading, writing, spelling and problem solving). A simple knot tying activity enhances children fine and gross motor skills such as eye-hand coordination and asymmetrical bilateral integration. Children can start this at home through simple activities such as tying shoelaces and ribbons, using rubber bands to tie up long hair, or participating in any rope adventure. We have observed that many young children enjoy tying different types of ropes to create an image or roping the furniture to create a ‘special’ space or shelter at home. In Outdoor School Singapore, we introduce knots such as overhand knots, reef knots, figure of eight, clove hitch and simple lashing to our young explorers through simple stories such as 'Sammy the Snake' and 'Bunny the Rabbit'. These stories help children to understand and remember the knots easily. Try this strategy with your children!
3) Shelter Building
Shelter building can be a lot of fun for children, especially if we make it fun for them. It can be much simpler if the children are able to do simple essential knots such as overhand knots, reef knots, figure of eight and clove hitch. These are essential knots we intoduced to our young explorers in Outdoor School Singapore. Understanding the basic knot concepts, enables children to build a shelter with ropes and tarps on tree trunks. If not, simple leaf huts and lean-tos are easy to build too, and the kids can use it as a fort. Remember to mark the shelter for visibility so as not to scare the animals and at the same time, to attract attention from rescuers when needed.
4) Outdoor Cooking
Building fire, managing it and learning the safety of it may often be deemed as dangerous and inappropriate skills to impart to our children. At Outdoor School Singapore, we strongly believe that instead of underestimating our children’s abilities and limiting these learning opportunities from them, it will be more meaningful to engage them safely under the supervision of adults. Children can always start this journey by learning about safety management of fire when cooking at home before engaging them in outdoor cooking. If you are ready to start outdoor cooking with your children, start by inviting them to think about ways to collect firewood responsibly, types of trees and lengths of wood to look for, several age-appropriate ways to light fires safely, and how to correctly put the fire out afterwards! Once they can build and put out a fire safely, they are ready to do the cooking outdoors! This is the best opportunity to teach children about the usage of knives and food safety such as internal cooking temperatures, food storage, etc too!
5) First Aid
As much as we want to equip children with the skills and good judgement to keep themselves safe, we need to understand that injuries may still happen during children's exploration of the environment. Thus, it is essential to educate them on prevention as well as the preparedness so that they are able to take care of themselves and others. When we do that, we are letting them know that we trust them to care for us and empowering them with the ability to keep our families safer. You may be wondering what kind of first aid should or can a young child learn? In Outdoor School Singapore, we introduced common outdoor injuries to our young explorers such as animals' bites, heat stroke, cuts, burns, etc and the treatment for these injuries. For young children, we would recommend you to introduce something that they can relate to. Example, for mosquitoes' bite, most of the children may have experienced that. Simple discussions with them on how they can treat the mosquitoes that bite on their bodies can be a good start!
You may be wondering, do children really need to learn how to read a map when we are living in a “GPS’ world? While many skills have become obsolete in the digital age, map reading remains an important skill for building children’s spatial reasoning skills and helping them make sense of our world. Many assume that map reading is easy for our young explorers. Unfortunately, you may be wrong on this. The ability to “read” a map, even a very simple one, is a skill that can require considerable time and effort especially for our young explorers. In Outdoor School Singapore, we start this learning journey with our young explorers by ensuring that they understood the directional language such as left, right, centre, up and down through games. Once they have showed their capabilites of understanding and using these directional words, we then continue our inquiry on maps!