Do you need to teach your children housekeeping skills, but you're not quite sure where to start? A Girl's Guide to Home Skills provides the tools you need, with chapters devoted to the care and upkeep of the bathroom, kitchen, living areas, bedrooms, closets, yard, and porches. In addition, there's a chapter about keeping a pantry, and another with lessons on offering hospitality. Judging from the "Kitchens" chapter we received, the instruction is thorough, easy to follow, and encouraging. Therefore, the following review will address kitchen maintenance, though the other chapters follow a similar format.
Note that the book is aimed at girls; however boys would do well to learn these skills as well!
The chapter begins with a quote from a housekeeping book for girls, from 1922, providing the reason and motivation for taking proper care of a "nice home of your own." This is something I fear too few of us learned in our own childhoods, at least from the conversations at homeschool group meetings. Too many moms of my acquaintance despair over their messy homes. A recurring theme seems to be the fact that they never learned how to keep house themselves, so they're lost in trying to teach their children these vital life skills.
Following the same theme, a note from "Aunt Sophie" extolls five virtues to cultivate in homemaking, with an explanation for each. Cultivating these virtues would do our children good in many areas of life, not just keeping a home.
A "Home Skills Checklist" follows with a list of skills to master. These aren't just cleaning tasks, either. For example, on the Kitchens checklist you'll find "How to deal with an emergency fire" as well as the expected tasks of washing dishes, setting a table, and cooking. The page can be used as a record of learning, complete with a notation at the bottom of the page where you can fill in the student's name to indicate that she has passed the requirements to prove herself capable in that area.
The Kitchen chapter also includes a "Cookery Skills Checklist" comprised of basic skills that will take you far in life. When I look at the list, I realize how unprepared I was to leave home, all those years ago. For example, I didn't learn to cut up a chicken into parts (yes, that's on the list) until I'd been married several years!
A Home Skills Scheduling Chart gives a detailed list of daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal chores for the kitchen, which I posted inside a cabinet door for an easy reminder. Now comes the real gold, where Aunt Sophie explains how to do each task on the chore list. (To be honest, even though this is written to teach to your young daughters, I felt as if I was learning just as much.) Many of the cleaning suggestions include non-toxic cleaners (like making your own oven cleaner from kitchen cupboard ingredients). I like that!
Menu planning pages include planner pages you can photocopy: a menu plan, full-page recipe form, recipe cards and dividers, and a page for "Notes from MotherDear" where you can record information to share. You'll also find instructions on how to plan menus, begin a recipe collection, and shop for food. Helpful notes teach how to use a recipe, including how to measure liquid and dry ingredients, and adjusting recipe amounts when you're doubling or tripling, or cutting a recipe in half. Special assignments include cooking a company dinner and a special lunch.
Additional notes cover table manners and safety, along with a quiz on cooking terms. A few recipes are included to help your student complete the company dinner and recipe adjusting assignments.
I thought I'd use this material in teaching home economics in our homeschool, but guess who ended up being the chief learner?
(In case you hate making guesses, I'll tell you. It was the mom.)