Home Ec skills aren’t being taught or learned by kids………

There was an interesting article on Slate today that spoke of home economics classes and the skills learned there, and how today’s young adults and children don’t know them. The specific skills mentioned were: budgeting, chores, and cooking. 

I think the point of the article was to say that people could benefit from a Home Ec class, or a Family and Consumer Science class – whatever it is called. The author made the point that with food prices being expensive, obesity being high, and children being expected to help out around the house; learning how to cook simple, healthy foods for less that prepackaged foods would be helpful to families. Teaching children how to work a budget, use a measuring cup, bake a cake, do laundry, and sew on their own buttons are all things the author thinks are valuable. Additionally, the good point is made that simply because someone doesn’t know how to read, spending more time on those exact skills won’t help. They might need a break, an alternate approach, or another reason to read (like they want to learn to read directions for sewing or cooking). 

I whole-heartedly agree that those skills should be taught. At home. By families ideally. At school if they have to be. In our school district those types of electives are being dropped for classes with more academic focuses: AP classes, computer science. Even classes that help kids prepare for careers – auto repair, EMT training, and other career tech classes – are being dropped in favor of forcing kids onto the college preparatory path.

It is a shame that kids can graduate from school without knowing how to put on a button, do laundry, run a budget, or cook a meal. Those skills will, as the article’s author points out, make a bigger impact on their life than pre-calculus ever will (as a disclaimer, I not only took pre-calc but AP Calculus and have never, ever, used them since).

But in a world of standardized tests, these skills aren’t testable. They are simply skills. While the students might be able to talk over cooking about how much milk to use in comparison to flour (and thereby be discussing ratios and math without even knowing it), or how to use vinegar as a substitute cleaning solution (chemistry), or how to follow the directions on a sewing pattern (reading), these aren’t testable.

And it is one more reason I homeschool. My 4 year old can fend for himself if he has to. He gets to pick one meal, once a week, where he’s responsible for himself. I make sure to always have chopped up fruits and veggies in the fridge, and we have talked about meals needing to always have fruits and veggies, but other than that he can choose for himself. He tends to use the toaster and make himself toast with strawberry jam and carrot sticks. Recently he has also started doing this for his sister. If you mean to tell me I can teach a 4 year old to do this, but a high school graduate cannot….well I am sticking to my homeschooling intentions.

We learn math with measuring cups some days – and we all know that 2 halves make a whole – and what’s wrong with using cooking to teach that? Nothing.

Until the schools learn that standardized testing doesn’t help teach everything, and that sometimes alternate, integrated approaches work better than a strict subject based approach, I’ll stick to homeschooling. It’s more adaptable and I know that when my kids leave home they will have the skills they need to do what they want.

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