The elements of housekeeping are the ABC of homemaking. We shall do well to teach them early, incidentally, and with no undue exaggeration of their place in the scheme of living. We simply familiarize the girl, by long and quiet contact, with the tools of the homemaker, for future scientific use, just as we teach the multiplication facts for later use in the science of mathematics.
A definite list of the simple homemaking tasks suitable for little girls to undertake may not be out of place here:
- Setting the table. (A card list of table necessities is useful. Such a list may be given each little girl when she undertakes home practice work.)
- Clearing the table.
- Washing the dishes.
- Sweeping the kitchen. Sweeping the piazza.
- Making beds and caring for bedrooms.
- Arranging her own bureau drawers and closets.
- Simple cooking.
- Hemming towels and table linen.
- Ironing handkerchiefs and napkins.
The talk in this chapter is mainly about school courses in home economics, supplemented by training at home. The way I see it, homemaking is best taught at home, and there is no, no, no replacement for an orderly, well-managed home to teach basic life skills. But of course it goes without saying that home economics taught at school is much better than nothing at all.
Sadly, at around the same time parents became too busy to teach housekeeping skills, schools canceled their home economics courses. I personally had a little hands-on class where I was taught to work with glue and scissors and make pretty little ornamental boxes and such like, but I think I would have been much better off learning how to knit, sew, cook and bake.
"After careful consideration it seems wise to urge that the greater part of the practical household work be taught during the period from eleven to fourteen." It sounds like a very good plan to me, too, especially after I've lived the first twenty years of my life without knowing how to operate a washing machine (surely a basic skill these days). I came to marriage knowing very little about housekeeping (and I'm still actively learning every day), which was a cause of stress and strain.
And I'll finish with this last great quote:
"Of all distinctly vocational training, it is only fair, however, that the homemaking training should come first, as a foundation for all later work. Whether the girl thus trained ever presides over a home of her own or not, the training will have made her a broader woman and a better worker, with a finer understanding of the universal business of her sex."