My mother made me take home economics (now known as family and consumer sciences) my freshman year of high school.
I'll admit that I wasn't too happy with her decision. I told her how I felt. Believe me, I handled it with respect.
She was a very sweet, hard-working woman. She had her mind made up, and there was no use trying to change it.
I quickly learned that she had made the right decision. I absolutely loved the class.
Although my mother was already teaching me how to cook and sew at home, the class offered a great avenue for building my self-esteem. Our class covered a variety of household-related topics.
I eagerly registered for Home Ec II and Home Ec III. Today, I still have the two scrapbooks from class projects as well as the pillows I made.
I loved sewing so much that I'd often work on a pattern in the morning before the school bus arrived. Needless to say, I was extremely excited when my parents gave me a sewing machine right before my senior year.
My love of cooking grew as well. I didn't know at the time that my future would include careers involving food and nutrition.
And it's interesting that as an adult I'd often talk with my mother on the phone just before or after preparing a meal.
Even though she passed away nearly three years ago, sometimes I still find myself reaching for the phone around dinner time.
I still love sewing and cooking. So, I don't have a right to become bored. There's always a new recipe to try or a new pattern to sew.
Whether it's centered on a recipe, pattern, general household task or financial lesson, children can benefit from learning these types of life skills.
As parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, don't we want reassurance that children will know how to take care of themselves as they grow older?
Daily family meals offer a great opportunity for adults and children to work together. Even if you're serving sandwiches, the time you spend talking with family is valuable.
Funny family stories are definitely going to spring up from those interactions, too. I remember making a batch of tea cakes, minus the sugar. I had a good record up until that point.
Don't just ask children to help out when there's a special occasion coming up. Let them help with planning menus, selecting recipes and managing the grocery or supplies list on a regular basis.
Make sure you emphasize safety rules and guidelines. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension also offers these tips:
Always supervise young cooks
• Give them quick, simple jobs to do, and give them instructions one at a time.
• Clean up as you go and make sure everything is clean and put up when cooking and eating are finished.
• Children (ages 3 and 4) can help tear lettuce, snap beans or wash fruits and vegetables.
• Elementary age children can mash cooked beans for dip or mash bananas for banana bread.
Help pre-teens and teens put together a basic step-by-step cookbook of simple menus and nutritious recipes.
Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the Hall County Extension Office. Contact her at 770-535-8290.