Homemaking seems to be a subject that is either forgotten as valid credits, or “school-ized” into a boring “subject, by many home educators. We need to learn how to avoid both extremes. I think the key is in 2 simple sheets of documentation. Mom producing a Learning Map/Course of Study (list of objectives with check off boxes) for the student, and Youth producing a Tracking Sheet (of completed tasks/projects). As a teaching Mom, I have a set of objectives that my husband and I want our children to learn. We don’t believe in a child-centered learning that ONLY follows their own self-induced interests. There are many interesting and valuable things for them to learn, that they may not know about yet, nor realize that they’d enjoy or need.
I also find that my Youth really like to know what is expected of them and what it takes to complete something. They don’t like just being told to “work on what you want/ or the subject I give you and report back what you learn/ or chart the hours it took you.” They like to know that “these are the necessary components of this topic, here are some resources that I’ve found valuable in learning about this topic, now take them, add what you find, figure out how to best apply it in your life, and then let me know what you discover, AND I’ll be right here to give any assistance you need.” Some topics have a lot more “necessary components” than others, some are more “free”.
In Homemaking there are many components that I feel are necessary for our children to learn. Our girls will one day be keepers of their own homes. It is necessary before they marry that they know how to properly manage all the aspects of the home. These aren’t the things that are learned in a semester of “book learning”. These are skills that are acquired, through training and practice throughout their Youth years.
The areas that we have divided Homemaking into are: Food Preparation, Shopping, and Storage; Sewing, Wardrobe, and Clothing Care; Home Management – Organizing and Cleaning; Repair and Maintenance; Decorating, Refurbishing, and Remodeling; and Hospitality and Ministry. In addition, some of our “Health” topics dovetail with our Homemaking topics and are really a part of proper homemaking; Nutrition and Exercise, Health and Dis-ease Care, Safety and First Aid, Human Development, and Personal Appearance Care. Other Practical Arts/ Life Skills (that count as “credits” elsewhere, are also a part of Homemaking, such as Home Finances. For each of these topics I have a Course of Study (list of objectives) designed as a Learning Map for my children to follow as they walk through their formal study, Youth years. Most of the time we don’t set aside a specific season for each topic. We just allow Life to direct. Although, at those times that Life dictates, I do set aside specific times for training specific skills.
Each week our Youth are asked to complete a Tracking Sheet for Family Living/Homemaking (in addition to other Tracking Sheets) that lists the week’s dates, any reading or other resources/training they used, what projects they worked on, and a summary of what they did/learned. They have Tracking Sheets for every area of Learning, and are to list ANY and ALL activities, reading, or other tasks they have done on the appropriate Tracking Sheet. (In addition to the Tracking Sheets, Topical Journals (Notebooks) are kept of those Topics that require further documentation.) These Tracking Sheets can then be cross-referenced to their Learning Maps for each topic to check off any objectives completed. As Learning Maps are completely “checked off”, they become records of Credits Earned, without specifically setting aside a Season for each Topic.
Some practical examples. We began this year with me needing a season of sewing. I took the opportunity, that Life directed, to teach some specific skills to my daughters, and they each completed a couple of projects. They now have the skills needed to go on with further objectives without much more specific training. From there we turned to many household projects that needed done. Our 16 year old, Ashli, helped her dad install a dishwasher (including plumbing and wiring). (He’d just had shoulder surgery, so she did most of it, at his direction.) Not a specific objective that I had listed, but definite Repair and Maintenance skills. She then helped me prime and paint a room, (I’m 6 1/2 months pregnant, so again, she did most of it, with training from me and my husband,) put up a wallpaper border, and hung pictures and decorations; Decorating/ Refurbishing skills. She has also, in the last 6 weeks, learned further Clothing Care skills, and Food Preparation skills (although these Topics are basically considered “complete” by now). All without taking a “course” in any of the above.
Although we believe that some Topics are best studied in a Season of concentration of them, Homemaking is not usually one of those areas. What I believed would be a longer Season of sewing, with many projects done and skills learned, turned into short training sessions (for the girls) and a couple of needed items completed. I really wanted to get more done, not for Ashli’s “credits” but for our real Life needs. But it turned out that other Life projects took precedence once we completed the necessities in the sewing area. BTW, I learned MUCH during that time through very concentrated learning. I’ve been wanting to learn to design patterns from scratch for some years, and worked on that, to design the things I needed, for the time that the girls worked on their projects.
I don’t know where we will go next in the area of Homemaking. We have so many projects since we are remodeling our home. Perhaps more in that area, or perhaps another Life directed area. You never know when a need for further Hospitality training will rise. As Ashli nears the end of her formal mom-directed training stage of her life, we will make a point to see that all remaining areas of objectives are covered. Sometimes that takes mom and dad re-evaluating whether the still uncompleted areas are really necessary or not. If they are, it may require a specific Season set aside for training in them. It’s all a part of giving our children a Living, rather than static, education.