Home Ec 'Life Skills' Lessons – at Home

As a school subject goes, home economics is history. But that’s only in title and focus – and, depending on where in southeast Michigan you live, your school district’s budget. Today’s kids are learning about everyday stuff like cooking, auto maintenance – and, increasingly, finances – under the umbrella of “life skills” and “family consumer sciences.”

Still, although these programs can seamlessly weave in core subjects like math and English, tight times can land them on the chopping block. Looking for a little “home ec” rescue on the homefront? Metro Parent has you covered with a few DIY lessons. Read on for resources.

Finances

A tanking economy, swelling credit-card debt, the crashed housing market: The signs are pretty clear grownups haven’t been so great with managing money. But it’s never to late – or early – to instill these lessons in your kids.

Start with our top 10 tips on raising a cost-conscious kid, including host talk about money, how to maximize an allowance experience, and requiring children to wait to make big purchases – all setting the groundwork for good budgeting.

We’ve also got insight on gaining control of your family’s finances – a process that can also involve (and teach) your kids. Taking a trip soon? Get them on board with cutting the travel food budget.

Cooking

Speaking of food: When it comes to meal prep, plenty of young adults are in some hot water. How many college kids do you know who unwrap and nuke their dinners? Bad habits can lead to poor health and certainly fuel concerns like obesity – not to mention a big disconnect from what we’re eating (battle that, incidentally, by visiting a farmers’ market in southeast Michigan when the weather’s warm).

The food pyramid has been updated in recent years: Get the 411 on healthy, balanced meals, including digestible nutrition tidbits on fruits, veggies, breads and meats, plus the skinny on fats. Then, score some recipes that are super-savvy time recipes in our “cook once, eat twice” article, where leftovers are easily reincarnated on the run. Wanna throw in some eating etiquette for good measure? Heck – these are things even a 5-year-old should know!

Autos and home

When it comes to cars, there’s no need to be a “grease monkey” – but teens and adults alike could stand to be more attuned to their autos. Our top 10 car maintenance tips were written with moms in mind, but it’s a way-manageable list you can discuss with your kids – from observing oil and checking tire pressure to learning your way around the crucial battery. And when it comes to the pros, find the right car repair shop in advance.

That warzone of a room isn’t going to magically fix itself when your kid gets a place of his or her own. On that front, browse our eight ideas on regularly (and effectively) cleaning out closets, along with tips from Michigan professionals on organizing your house. Got the advantage of starting them early? Here’s how effectively managing kids’ chores can also help – and how to teach your kid one of the most basic skills of all: Making the bed. (You may event know a few adults who could use a refresher; why not your teen?)

This post was originally published in 2010 and has been updated for 2016.

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