Home Economics is way for homeschool children to learn about how to run a house properly, efficiently and economically. Many of the lessons we teach for homeschool home Economics consist of the things we need to do each day. These practical lessons are invaluable in teaching the children homemaking skills and responsibility. We also have some scheduled, formal lessons that we make sure to cover but the reality is that homeschool home economics occurs almost every day. If you start when they are young, the children will be thrilled to help you. As they grow, they may not enjoy helping nearly as much but they will have the process down so they can get it completed quickly and thoroughly. Either way, they have learned valuable skills necessary for when they are on their own and they will understand the importance of getting it done quickly, efficiently and for the least amount of money possible.
In order to run a home efficiently you need to have a neat and organized home. This does not mean living in a bubble with nothing out of place but children need to learn at an early age that some things need to be done regularly to live the nice life they do. They need to learn the practical lessons in how to do them as well as the responsibility of doing them. Chores are a must in our home. Each child has certain responsibilities and we try to allow them to take care of them at their pace and not to constantly tell them to do it. If it goes too long, though, reminders are given. The oldest has the most responsibility (and the most privileges) followed by the middle child and youngest. But all the children are expected to help out with the cleaning on a regular basis.
- Doing dishes – clearing the table, loading the dishes, putting clean dishes away
- Helping with laundry – sorting, transferring to dryer, putting folded clothes away, sorting socks, etc.
- Wiping down tables
- Picking up their rooms and play room
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Taking out the trash and recycling
- Making homemade laundry detergent
Each of the kids can do portions of these chores. Some parts need supervision and other parts they are not quite ready for but they still watch and learn how and why it is done. They also learn that the faster everything gets done, the more time they have to do whatever they wish.
Cooking is a favorite activity and we have helpers for most every meal. Each of the kids has their own custom made apron, thanks to Grandma, and they love putting it on and helping out. We have a stool that is in the kitchen to help the kids reach the counter tops. During the process we have kids fetch things from the refrigerator, throw away trash, prepare food, mix, stir, etc. They love contributing to the meal and learning about how and why we do certain things. We discuss the tastes of foods, what goes together, spices, techniques and kitchen and food safety. We also take this opportunity to discuss healthy eating habits and the use of fresh foods. Often, the kids help plan meals too. As the kids get older and more coordinated their ability to help expands. Both older kids crack eggs and the oldest is starting to learn some knife skills.
Speaking of eating fresh foods, we also have a small garden. Right now it is not enough to sustain us completely but we do have our fair share of herbs and a few vegetables. The children love every part of the process of gardening and each can help to a certain extent. The biggest cost savings to us is in herbs. We use fresh herbs a lot and when we do a grocery run we check the prices of the herbs we would use and do a rough calculation of what we saved that week. We plan on expanding our garden this year.
Gardening also helps with some of the landscaping process, another part of home ec curriculum. All the kids have some input into shrubs and flowers and each gets to take care of their chosen ones.
From mending a hem and replacing a button to full clothing design, sewing can be an incredibly useful skill and a great money saver. Here at our home, Grandma is the expert sewer and she has helped the oldest get started on sewing basics. She has used these skills mostly to help her make blankets for her charity, Project Linus. However, she has made a few accessories for her room and also plans on making a few costumes for dress up in the near future. We have talked a lot about home décor and how sewing allows us to get exactly what we want without having to buy it. It not only saves money in most cases but it also allows us to be unique.
One of the other interests shared between several members of the family is woodworking. Parents and grandparents have a fondness for this and we have saved a lot of money by refinishing some pieces instead of buying new. Our oldest’s dresser, for example, was a thrift store find many years ago when Dad was still a bachelor. It was made of solid wood and while he outgrew it long ago, a good sanding and a coat of paint made it the ideal addition to the room. We are working on a custom desk chair for the middle child’s room and a refurbished desk for the youngest’s room. Grandpa is making custom toy chests from scratch for all three children. This is a fun activity that ultimately saves money and gives us one-of-a-kind pieces.
We do a lot of crafts at home. Some of them are seasonal and just for fun and others are intended for home décor. We recently made a series of tutus for the girls you can see at Homeschool Pool. We have made window decorations, wreaths, wall art, table centerpieces, place cards, napkin rings and more. They give a personalized and often elegant feel to a room without having to spend a fortune. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! We have a great time decorating for each season and holiday that comes around and we typically have several craft projects centered around a holiday theme.
Of course, everyone wants to have a home that looks like it came from a home design magazine. The reality, though, is that most people don’t – at least not all the time. But, it is important to discuss how certain things go together. We often discuss how furniture is arranged, how to group items for display to look attractive, what colors go together, etc. Holiday decorating is often, at least in part, left to the kids. They pay particular attention to making things look nice and more times than not do a good job. An eye for what looks good and creativity for ideas to enhance the attractiveness and usefulness of a home is a great way to start. Then, you can incorporate some of the DIY fun to pull it all together.
Landscaping is a big deal this year. Fortunately, the kids love getting out in the yard and doing these chores from the fun planting to the more mundane weeding. It is a great time to discuss the environment and the social responsibilities of keeping your yard attractive. We have driven through neighborhoods to get ideas and we discuss differences in landscaping. We have even started discussing why certain landscaping methods are used. For example, we want to reduce the amount of grass in our front yard so we have talked about tricks to do so without making the yard look ugly. The kids have come up with some great ideas.
Sometimes you just cannot do it yourself so you need to call an expert. But, if you can repair those odd things that break occasionally, you will save a lot of money. When something breaks at our house and we can fix it, we typically have three riveted helpers. During the process we discuss what the item is used for (if an explanation is necessary), what broke and why, how we are fixing it and how much money is being saved. It also instills in the kids a sense of accomplishment when you fix something yourself. We see this carried through in their toys when something breaks. Their first thought is, “Can it be fixed?” as opposed to, “I need a new one” or, “I guess it needs to be thrown away.”
Along with home improvement is vehicle maintenance. We discuss the importance of keeping the vehicles on regularly scheduled maintenance to expand the life of the vehicles. When we have occasion to change oil, replace brakes or something of that sort, we typically have a few helpers who are very interested in the process. The middle child especially has shown an interest in cars (Dad is thrilled!) and is always excited to help work on them when needed. They also all frequently help with cleaning them.
Don’t forget that learning does not stop at formal homeschool lessons. Get your kids involved in all aspects of running your home and you will find you have a built in homeshcool home economics curriculum with no trouble!