12 Basic Survival Skills To Teach Your Kids

12 Basic Survival Skills To Teach Your Kids

by Brandon Hunt


It’s ever more apparent, day-by-day, that you will have to rely upon survival preparation and skills. A glimpse at the stories out there reveals a lot of uncertainty regarding the future and direction of our nation.

When I consider such calamitous news, I often look at my two boys, both of them so young and dependent upon us, their dad and mom. If you’re like me, perhaps you’re just as concerned about your kids’ future.

Even though we don’t like the idea of something happening, or possibly becoming separated from our kids, we have to consider what is of most worth to our kids.

In building up supplies and preparations, are we also building our skills, and are we teaching those skills to our kids?

Education of most value to our kids

I’m not saying that learning math and science, history and English are not of equal worth to our kids. Though, I am advocating the need to help our kids learn survival, or essential living skills, as a necessary part of their education.

You may not feel skilled or qualified with teaching math (I sure don’t), and that’s okay. On the other hand, you are qualified to dispense your lifetime of experience and knowledge, and pass it on to your kids. Plus, as you teach your kids survival, and practical skills, they might actually enjoy the learning process — as opposed to worksheets and a classroom.

So, as you go about imparting your skills, consider what they are capable of, and what skills and knowledge are appropriate for their ages. What skills do you want them to obtain? What do you want them to learn?

Remember that kids learn best by doing and practicing, which pretty much applies to all of us. I have to practice over and over before I really learn something new. But that’s the key, right? Continued practice builds skills and knowledge.

No matter where you’re at or what you’re doing, look for teaching moments, because an opportunity for learning always exists.

And as you teach your kids survival skills, you may end up learning right along with your kids. 

The Skills

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather skills I thought necessary, and they are offered only as suggestions. Really, there is no order of importance, and you may find your kids respond differently to certain skills.

The suggested skills are not strictly for surviving in the wild. You have to account for your living environment as well for developing survival skills.

Build a fire: I know it’s questionable putting fire and kids together, but with your supervision and instruction (and if you determine their age is appropriate), fire starting is an essential skill. You can teach your kids different methods of fire starting, as well as methods for laying wood. This skill will also apply to others, such as cooking and boiling water. 


Use a pocket knife: When they’re old enough, let them carry a pocketknife of their own. Obviously teach your kids safe handling and how to cut away from themselves. Carrying a pocket knife allows your kids to become familiar and comfortable with one. A little knife is useful for fishing, peeling fruit, opening bottles, and has a lot of applications.


Finding and boiling water: Another top priority, given that you only last a few days without water. So, teach your kids how to locate water, and how to boil it as one method for purifying. It's good to go over other purification methods as well, and explain why they need clean water.


Find or build shelter: If you’ve helped your kids build blanket forts or cardboard castles, then they already have a good start on shelter construction. Kids will likely take to this skill enthusiastically.


Situational awareness: You can practice this skill everyday by teaching simple observation techniques wherever you are. Ask them if they notice anything out of place or something different. You can easily turn observation skills into a game.



Identify if food is safe to eat: We understand why you shouldn’t eat spoiled food, but do your kids? Teach them how to identify bad food, especially meats and canned food.



How, when and why to hide: There may come a time when your kids need to hide. Although they may already be good at this, explain under what conditions they’ll want to hide from people.


Fishing (cleaning and preparing as well): I had a hard time enjoying fishing as a kid — I never caught anything. But knowing how to fish, clean and cook is another of those survival essentials.


Cooking over a fire: More fun with fire. Everything tastes better cooked over a fire, right? If your kids have a few basic cooking skills and recipes, you’ll have hope they can at least prevent starvation.


Foraging and identifying edible plants: Any time you're out for a hike or camping, do your own research beforehand, and then teach them what little berries are okay to eat. 


Self-defense: Granted they’re just kids, but they should also know some self-defense in case of a personal assault. Even adults have vulnerable areas, and pointing them out to your kids will give them better chances of escape. Encourage them to take a little boxing or martial arts.


Using a compass and map (determining direction): Kids will love to learn how to use a compass. Until they're older, map reading might be too advanced, but some basic understanding will go a long way. Also teach them to identify landmarks, the course of the sun, how to locate the North Star, and some natural land navigation. Whatever you can impart to your kids will help them find their way.

In Conclusion

The list of skills you could teach your kids could go on-and-on, but I’ll stop here and let you decide on the rest. Whatever you deem important for your kids to learn will help them develop greater confidence in themselves. You’re also teaching them how to cope with emergencies and difficult circumstances.

I imagine that teaching kids survival skills is something they’ll be excited about. They’ll likely complain less about learning those skills than they do over their homework. 

With so many chaotic events happening in the world, I often think about the future in terms of my children. What can I give them to make their futures better? I can teach them and try to give them skills they can use to improve their lives or even survive. I know it’s kind of a bleak topic, because we all want our kids to have it better than we did, but giving them skills is essential.

If you’re like me and worry about the future your kids will have, then work on teaching them everything you can.

So, include your kids in all things preparation, and keep preparing.

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