This is the first year I can remember that I won't be going back to school. As I reflect on the good and the bad throughout the years, I can say one thing with certainty: I wish that there had been a Home Economics program at my school. In fact, I wish it had started in elementary school and was repeated through high school.
What if your child's next school project was to help you make dinner instead of trying to figure out what a small replica of a mission should look like? (I grew up in California, where, for whatever reason, building a mission was a state requirement.) Of course, it's not really about which homework assignment parents would prefer to come home to at the end of the day. It's about figuring out what is going to benefit our kids in the short and long term. Here is why I think we should tone down the dioramas and focus more on home how-to's:
1. Kids need to know how to make healthy snacks and meals. Did you know that 26 percent of school-aged children are home alone from the end of the school day until their parents come home from work? Some may think that having young kids in the kitchen is a risk, but they are already there. Four percent of elementary school kids, or 1.1 million children, are left unsupervised on a daily basis. By middle school, that number rises to 30 percent, or 3.7 million kids. These children are on their own after-school snack duty, and they need to know how to make healthy choices.
2. My generation doesn't know how to do anything. Really. Martha Stewart said this to Parents in a recent interview, and I could not agree more. I remember when my mom would sew all of my Girl Scout patches on my vest. She said that one day I would be doing the same thing for my daughter. Here's the thing though: I don't even know how to sew. I took four AP classes my senior year, but never took a class on Sewing 101.
I know it is difficult to ask anything more from schools that are already facing serious budget issues. But maybe if we didn't live in a country that was obsessed with standardized testing--and standardized everything, for that matter--we could see what we truly need in our school systems.
Image: Schoolchildren with Backpacks, via Shutterstock.