Home economics originated early in the 20th century as a way for women to learn homemaking and career skills in areas such as education and the restaurant industry. Over time, the field changed to reflect societal interests and priorities. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reports modern home economics studies focus on seven areas, helping students develop skills to juggle a family and career. Relationship skills, fashion sense, financial management and family planning are highlighted.
Consumer and Family Sciences
Consumer and family sciences are encompassed in one area of home economics. Topics including aging populations, ethnic diversity and community issues are examined. Financial management lessons teach students about family budgeting. Globalization and environmental management issues are discussed, such as the impact of global economics or genetically modified organisms. The American Association of Consumer and Family Science states consumer and family science instruction includes the changing family, including smaller family sizes or divorced and single parents.
Family Living, Child Development and Parenting
Family living, child development and parenting lessons introduce students to three important areas of home economics. According to the home economics subject matter requirements in the state of California, human development theories and family relationships are covered as students learn about family planning and pregnancy. Childhood growth and development is also studied, as students learn effective parenting techniques and the importance of a healthy living environment for raising children.
Cornell University Library states that home economics studies include textile manufacturing, fashion design and clothing care. Students learn why people dress the way they do and how cultural influences affect wardrobe choices. According to standards published by the California Subject Examinations for Teachers, home economics courses include discussions of fashion and current wardrobe trends. Students learn about careers in the clothing and textiles industry and technological advances contributing to more efficient manufacturing.
Food science and nutrition are incorporated into one area of home economics studies. Students learn to read recipes and experiment with food from different cultures, how to plan for proper nutrition and organize a menu or meal plan. According to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s University Library website, food science courses teach students proper handling, processing and sanitation of food. Chemistry and microbiology lessons help students learn about human metabolism of food and chemical reactions involved in cooking.
Housing and Home Furnishings
Housing and home furnishings is focus of home economics courses, per the University of Georgia. Students might learn to arrange furniture, select floor and wall coverings or practice designing color schemes and palettes for different rooms in a home. According to the home economics subject matter requirements in the state of California, interior design topics introduce the influence of historical architectural style in contemporary building choices.
- American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences: “Body of Knowledge” for Family and Consumer Sciences
- University of Michigan: Child, Personal, and Family Development
- Cornell University Library: Subjects: Clothing and Textiles
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Home Economics Collection
- The University of Georgia: Home Economics
- California Subject Examinations for Teachers: Home Economics Subject Matter Requirements
- University of Michigan: A Brief History of how Home Economics Came to Be
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