Teaching Home Economics With Common Sense

These are statements we hear from moms in our Child Survival Program:

“I didn’t know the importance of cleaning with soap.”

“I didn’t know that I was not feeding my child correctly.”

“I didn’t know that it was important to play with my child.”

Mothers in our Child Survival Program range in age from the young teens to the early 40s. Knowledge that we consider common sense is not always common for them. These moms typically lack the opportunity to learn basic home economics skills. And sometimes, the lack of one of these basic skills means life or death for an infant.

So what do we do?

Our Child Survival Program builds trust between a mother and a church staff member who visits on a regular basis. These visits provide opportunities to teach home economics skills in a safe and trusting environment.

two women watching a child finger paint

We provide church partners with a list of necessary home economics skills; the staff then adapt the list so that the skills fit the context of their communities.

Our resource curriculum provides “mini lesson plans” enabling Survival Specialists to teach these skills to mothers in the program.

Samples of these skills include:

  • Ensuring a source of fuel for cooking, like firewood or gas, and safely handling the fuel source.
  • Understanding a balanced diet and providing it to the infant. This helps the mother avoid giving her child “empty calories” such as those found in tea or colas or carbohydrate-rich diets that lack essential protein, vitamins and minerals.
  • Purifying water to make it safe for drinking.
  • Identifying the early symptoms of illness so mothers can seek medical assistance for her children as quickly as possible.
  • Using soap and water to wash hands before handling food and after using the toilet or latrine. And, teaching the same to their children.
  • Understanding a baby’s temperament so that mothers can better and more quickly address the baby’s needs.
  • Making and using laundry detergent to clean the family’s clothing.
  • Making safe and fun toys for the children from recyclable materials.
  • Removing or being vigilant about hazards that can harm children in the home.

Because many moms in the Child Survival Program are also illiterate, our resource curriculum also contains mini lesson plans to teach them functional literacy and basic math skills. Basic skills mothers should have in order to properly care for their children, especially in emergencies, include:

child and a young woman inside a classroom
  • Reading a medicine label and instructions so medicine can be properly administered when necessary.
  • Reading a map or a bus route to go to the hospital when necessary.
  • Understanding a bill.
  • Managing a simple budget.
  • Understanding a proper business transaction (such as giving cash and counting change).
  • Understanding simple arithmetic such as addition and subtraction and some multiplication and division.

Moms in our Child Survival Program also have opportunities to learn income-generating skills so they may eventually help provide for their families financially.

Examples of these income-generating skills include:

  • Sewing and tailoring.
  • Baking and cooking.
  • Confectionery, such as making chocolates and candies.
  • Beauty services, such as manicures and pedicures.
  • Simple agriculture and animal-husbandry skills, such as growing their own vegetables and raising their own chickens and goats.
  • Cleaning services.

So, next time you slip on your dishwashing gloves, or pick up a bar of soap to wash your hands, or take out food to prepare a meal, remember how valuable your knowledge of home economics is. It helps keep you healthy.

Similarly, next time you read a medicine label, get directions from a Global Positioning System, or receive change from a vendor, thank God that you are not dependent on other people to explain these things to you. You are less likely to be taken advantage of.

And next time you set about to do your work, even if it is drudgery, thank God that you have an income. Many people don’t even have the skills or opportunity to work. Thank God that He gives us common-sense knowledge to share with others!

7 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Gail August 21, 2011

    Lack of knowledge about basic home economics is not restricted to the poor of the developing world. I’ve come across among Australians, where mothers weren’t parented and weren’t taught these skills at home or at school. Those of us who have these skills should thank our mothers for teaching us and making us do chores as kids.

  2. Irene Kimani August 17, 2011

    Child survival is rescuing and giving hope to the families,the interventions are timely and the mothers are able to share with their neighbors who are not beneficiaries.I thank God because the mother is the first teacher and is able to work with his/her child daily.God bless the child survival centers through out the global.Rebeca thanks for sharing.

  3. Khwanjai Komkai August 16, 2011

    Thanks Rebeca for sharing this. We can see what’s going on in CSP. This program gives many more benefits and opportunity for mothers and their kids to have a better and good quality of life.

  4. Carol Ward August 16, 2011

    Awesome, Rebeca! Many will be enlightened about our program through this blog.

  5. Lorraine August 16, 2011

    God made us in His image – that means we are relational. Animals know much of what they need to know by “instinct” – the chemical programming God puts in them, we learn it through relationships – parenting for example. This makes the Child Survival Program so special, because it links women up with other women who have been taught to care for their babes, their homes, their husbands etc. What a precious opportunity to be the hands of Jesus and to introduce His love to them in practical ways!

  6. Beth Baran August 16, 2011

    I have see the child survival program firsthand in Peru, Bolivia, and Kenya. It makes a HUGE difference in the lives of children and in the lives of their families. As a bonus, the mothers in the child survial program share what they have learned with other mothers in the community. The program benefits more children than are registered!

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