Home economics is a valuable addition to a high school curriculum because it teaches students practical skills for daily living. In the process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, high school students need training in practices such as nutrition, financial responsibility, home management and child development so they can lead safe and productive lives. Most schools have changed the course name from home economics to family and consumer sciences.
High school students learn about safety and risk-avoidance principles in home economics classes. For example, they learn about dangers associated with leaving a stove unattended, mixing hot grease with water, leaving wounds untreated, forgetting to monitor young children, preventing household fires, working with raw meat and living in an unsanitary environment. For students who don't learn safety practices at home, family and consumer science classes may help prevent serious illness or injury. High school health courses also teach safety-related content, such as CPR and first aid.
Students learn about health risks and medical concerns associated with poor nutrition, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits often leading to obesity. For example, the goal of the home economics Foods I course at Milpitas High School in California is to teach students about healthy food choices, food preparation, food groups, care of kitchen appliances, healthy food buying strategies and nutrition. Students learn how to plan and prepare tasty, nutritious meals, helping them develop healthy long-term eating habits.
Family and consumer science courses teach students how to balance a check book, apply and interview for a job, live on a budget, pay bills and exercise fiscal responsibility. They also teach constructive career content such as workplace issues, career growth, conflict resolution, and communication strategies. Life skills courses also encourage personal development, decision-making skills and interpersonal behaviors that help both at home and in the workplace.
After high school graduation, students often live in college residence halls, share apartments with roommates or live in barracks with other military personnel. Home economics courses prepare them to contribute to such a community living environment, teaching them how to share responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, organizing and shopping.
Not all high school students become parents later in life, but many do. Family and consumer science courses teach students effective, responsible parenting skills so they are equipped to take care of a child's basic needs. They teach skills related to nutrition, infant care, car safety and home safety. Parenting and child development lessons are also beneficial to students who wish to pursue jobs in child care, elementary education and youth counseling.
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