I love the idea of Home Ec. Its standard’s are basic, its functionality is superior, and its enrollment rates are super low. I’d change a few things and put a fun spin on it. Bring it to real life and approach it from a teenager’s attraction for wanting to be an adult.
First day of class as each student walks through the door I’d greet them in the door way with Option cards. They have to choose one of two cards, either a COLLEGE card or a JOB card. Depending on what they choose their paths in the class will be entirely unique and all their own creation with a little twist from fellow students and the teacher.
On the back of each College/Job card is a description and instructions. Example: COLLEGE– You go to a community college while living at home with working middle class parents. You also have a part-time serving job at a local steakhouse. You drive a hand me down 1990 pick up truck that has the engine light on.
Questions to answer- What are you studying at college? Are you a full-time student or full-time server? Where do your parents live? Do you have siblings?
RESEARCH- How much your tuition is? How many hours do you work weekly at your job and what is your hourly salary? Also, how much in tips do you bring home on average each night? How far away is your job from your parent’s house and your college?
Or if a student pulled a Job card it might look like this;
JOB–You work at a local discount grocery store stocking shelves and bagging groceries, you live at home with your single mom and two younger siblings.
Questions to answer- How long have you worked at this job? What sex and age are your siblings? What does your mom do for a living and what are her hours? How do you get to work?
RESEARCH- How many hours do you work weekly at your job and what is your hourly salary? Does your job come with benefits?
Second day of class the returning teenagers would bring in their research and from there they set out to live their created lives in class. We come up with nightly menus for dinner; they keep track of their spending/savings in a check book. They get Decision cards at the end of each class. Some are easy like: Little sis needs a ride to the birthday party and you have to go to work. How do you accomplish both tasks without being late to work? But some of the cards are hard, like: You have $150 in your saving’s, your rent is due, you have a 48-hour power shut-off notice. What do you do? Or the students get even harder Decision cards that pertain to statistics that happen to young people in their situations such as; Your girlfriend has just informed you that her pregnancy test showed positive. How do you handle the news? What do you do next?
End of the week the teenagers fill out Goal Sheets for the next week pertaining to their “created lives”. These goals sheets look like this;
Accomplishment for next week:
How do you plan to make it happen?
What obstacles would prevent it from happening?
Does it require money to happen and if so, how much?
What was your mood throughout the last week on average?
Why did you feel that way?
Any achievements or regrets from this week?
At the end of every 8 days of class the teenagers approach 3 tables with cards turned over. These cards are randomly placed but they have 3 possible options. These cards are called, LIFE HAPPENS cards. The cards don’t have any descriptions on the back just the titles; Major Achievement, Major Disaster, Pay It Forward.
Then the students pair up with another class mate and begin sharing their course notes on their individually “created life”. That way each student gets familiar with the other students life. They swap LIFE HAPPENS cards and begin filling them out for the other student’s, according to which card they chose. It could look like this:
Major Achievement– You pass your class with an A and you’re on set to graduate, or your parents pay for repairs on your truck to get the engine light off, etc.
Major Disaster– Your power gets shut off but your rent is paid, or your girlfriend’s parents kick her out because she’s pregnant, etc.
Pay It Forward– You have $150 in your saving’s and you do something kind for someone else leaving your saving’s account with $50. Describe what you do, where and how your money was spent.
(There are only 2 of these cards in the whole class. The students who gets these card has the option to choose to correct another students major disaster card in the class)
After the cards are chosen and the descriptions are written, the students have to continue on with the course of their “created lives” including their LIFE HAPPENS descriptions. Through out each class the students learn to make meals, do laundry, budget their money, plan for birthdays/etc, change diapers, learn about birth control and pregnancy, how to sew/mend clothing, and learn to deal with mentally/emotionally challenging life events. They plan for their futures and deal with set backs.
Fridays are always spent in discussion on the floor in a group. Very casual, open floor, any and all discussion is encouraged but never judgmental. Options can be talked about. The events of the previous week are the main focus of the group discussion. Why they ended up broke, where they went in their “lives”, what they achieved, what set them back, but most importantly what they learned.
The goal of this exercise is to hopefully teach these young adults about the harsh reality of life that they could be facing and how to handle it without accepting failure. Teaching them the value of a dollar, respect for their parents in the jobs they do in raising and caring for their needs up to this point, preparing them for their real lives.