We all have heard of Home Economics. While the classes are slowly dying in our school systems, everyone uses one or more areas daily. When you think of Home Economics, do you simply think of cooking and sewing? Most people do. But there are 7 principles in home economics. Let’s talk about them all today.
Before I begin, I want to say that Modern Homemaking is not gender-biased in any way. No matter who you are, home economics skills are important to your role in your home. For the sake of education, however, the stereotyped roles of women played a huge role in the development of the educational side of home economics. We no longer depend on the ideal of the “Perfect Family” to rule our lives. However, the principles that home economics encompassed are still vital to anyone taking care of a home and/or family.
Home Ec Principle #1: Cooking
Since food preparation is central to homemaking, cooking is one of the first principles in home economics. Early home economics programs taught women how to cook a balanced meal, and included food safety and preservation. Additionally, they studied how to properly set a table and learned how to host meals. Not only for their immediate families but for larger groups as well. This part of traditional economics still exists today for both men and women in culinary schools, culinary programs for family and consumer sciences students, and nutrition degrees.
Cooking today seems to have become a dying art as we push toward faster meals vs more balanced ones. The nutritional value of the foods we eat has lessened over the years. In my opinion, the loss of this part of home economics has a huge part in the obesity epidemic of today’s society. Our foods fuel us less but we eat more of it. Taking the time to learn proper nutrition, including the simple act of reading a food label, can greatly impact the health and wellness of our society.
Home Ec Principle #2: Sewing and Textiles
Another of the earliest skills taught to home economics students, sewing was significant to the lesson plans because many women sewed not only their own clothes, but clothes for their children. Additionally, this skill came in handy when clothing needed mending.
Because patterns require certain types of materials, an understanding of textiles was useful. This element of the traditional areas of home economics is still relevant today. Today’s family and consumer science majors enter and thrive in fashion design and merchandising fields.
As sad as it is, 60% of Americans do not know how to sew. Even less own a sewing machine. We rely on large corporations for our textiles and clothing. Learning to sew or simply mend our clothing instead of purchasing new each time something gets a tear could save us tons of money over time.
Home Economics Principle #3: Education and Community Awareness
Historically, women were the first educators for their children, teaching them basic reading and math skills before they entered school. It was significant for them to understand how best to teach these skills.
Education and community awareness, which included moral and ethical lessons, was originally a part of the home economics education, it has become so significant today that elementary education has branched into its own field of study — but one that is still dominated by women. According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, 77.9% of elementary and middle school teachers in 2017 were women. For preschool and kindergarten teachers, that figure was 97.2%.
Home Ec Principle #4: Home Management and Design
Early women who studied home economics learned the elements of design in order to better decorate and care for their homes. This area of study also included cleaning and organization, which was significant because homemakers were expected to keep the house clean and organized.
For most of us, hiring painters or interior designers are not in our budget. All of the design and color in my home I have done myself. Being able to know exactly what you like, what storage and organizational needs you have, plus learning how to do some of these things yourself is magical. As you learn, make it a learning experience for your family too. You never know which child will be great at having an eye for color, have an engineering mind to help with spatial awareness. Always look for hidden talents.
Home Economics Principle #5: Budgeting and Economics
Home economics students learned how to budget. Because women did all, or most, of the family shopping, they were expected to understand how to spend wisely. Making the most of the money you have means a lot.
Today, the amount of young adults who have no idea how to budget, balance a checkbook, or properly understand credit is staggering. To create more financially sound adults, be open about money. Share your financial goals. Get them involved in the process of saving.
Home Economics Principle #6: Health and Hygiene
Students who studied home economics learned how to properly care for sick family members. This included sanitation, keeping the sick family member fed and quarantined from the healthy, and at-home treatments for common illnesses.
While most of us think of the concept of personal hygiene, in this case, the concepts of proper sanitation of laundry, food surfaces, and other areas of the home are included. My personal “OMG” issue with health and hygiene currently is that people do not understand how long food keeps. Leftovers should be eaten within 4 days or thrown away. Anything past 4 days, even in the refrigerator, has a much higher chance of growing bacteria. This definitely raises your chance for illness.
You can read more about Home Ec & Personal Hygiene here.
Home Ec Principle #7: Child Development
Home economics students were taught how to rear children. This included learning about the stages of child development and how to correctly respond to children at each stage. The lack of this type of education accounts for not only the amount of child abuse cases. It also accounts for the number of Parenting classes that the Department of Job & Family Services gives each year.
Creating a culture of learning at home, by teaching or just by example is a core to Home Economics. Giving a child lessons in basic life skills, including the first 6 principles of Home Economics, prepares them for a better future. In my opinion, raising children begins at home. Teaching them to be functional adults is a part of the system that I feel is being partially ignored in today’s culture.
Do you feel as if something was missed on my list? I’d love to hear from you on what YOU believe Home Economics means. Drop me a comment or email me. You are the best and your opinion matters to me.