[Footnote 5: Cabot, What Men Live By.]
TEACHING THE MECHANICS OF HOUSEKEEPING
Going to school marks an epoch in every child’s life. Hitherto, however wide or narrow the child’s contact with the world has been, the mother has been, at least nominally and in most cases actually, the controlling power. Now she gives her child over for an increasingly large part of every day to outside influence.
More and more we are coming to see that the evolution of a successful homemaker requires that the school as well as the home keep the homemaking ideal before it. And so the best schools of the country are doing. The greatest needs of the little girl’s early school days would seem to be a definite understanding between teacher and mother of the share each should assume in the homemaking training. This necessitates personal conferences or mothers’ meetings, or both.
The little girl of primary-school age points the way for both teacher and mother by her adaptation and imitation of home activities in her play. In primary grades girls are approaching the height of the doll interest, which Hall and others place at eight or nine years. A doll’s house, therefore, may be made the source of almost infinite enjoyment and profit in these grades. Indeed it is hardly too much to say that no primary room is complete without one. Nor is there any reason why any school should remain without one, since its making is the simplest of processes. Four wooden boxes, of the same size, obtained probably from the grocer, the dry-goods merchant, or the local shoe dealer, will make a most satisfactory house if placed in two tiers of two each, with the open sides toward the front. This gives four rooms, which may be furnished as kitchen, dining room, living room, and bedroom. Windows may be cut in the ends or back, if the boys of the school are sufficiently expert with tools or if outside assistance can be secured for an hour or so.
The best results with the doll’s house are obtained if the children are allowed to furnish it themselves, with the teacher’s advice and help, rather than to find it completely equipped and therefore merely a “plaything” of the sort that children have less use for because they can do little with it. An empty house presents exciting possibilities, and perhaps for the first time these little girls look with seeing eyes at the home furnishings, for they have wall paper to select, curtains and rugs to make, and indeed no end of things to do.