In some parts of England the school nurses give little lectures or talks to girls at intervals, but it is found that such teaching is too superficial in character to be of much use. Largely owing to the enthusiasm of the headmistresses, a few schools have taken up the subject of home-making more thoroughly, and gave during the last three yearsquite excellent lectures in personal hygiene and child manage -ment, which are kept up systematically, and supply much that is needful for the proper education of girls to make them useful in after life.
As time goes on, it is hoped to give more practical teaching in baby management in the elementary schools in association with the domestic subjects already taught, such as needlework, hygiene, cookery, and nursing. It has been proposed to utilise creches and day nurseries for practical teaching purposes. One doctor has suggested that various girls should be selected from the upper standards of the elementary schools to spend half their days at one of the day nurseries during a period of two or three months. They would be taught simple child management, and work under the supervision of the matron.
Miss Elizabeth Hughes, a well-known member of the Glamorgan Education Committee, and Governor of the University College of Aberystwyth and of Cardiff, who holds the Moral Science and History Tripos of Cambridge, has instituted a most interesting scheme at a school in Penarth, South Wales. She has a class of forty children between the ages of twelve and fourteen. They are divided into two sections of twenty, and each child spends half the school hours of each school day for a whole year learning practical home making. Towards the end of the course five weeks are devoted entirely to the care of children.
First, there is a little course of preparation in the shape of lessons and lectures from a woman doctor or a school nurse, or even an English mother, and the children are taught to make toys, such as dolls, bricks, picture-books, etc. Then the nursery proper is opened. The interesting and novel feature about this scheme is that each pupil brings a small child to school, either a small brother or sister, or a neighbour's child. She has charge of the child for a week, and at the end of that time writes an account of it, how to "manage" it, what are its special idiosyncrasies, its strong or weak points, etc. This inspires the little nurses to study the children seriously and intelligently.
It is the duty of the little nurse-mothers to take their children as much as possible out of doors, to teach them to play, to make them sing and march drill fashion, and, if they are old enough, they are even taught to clean and dust and sweep. During the first week of the nursery period the idea is to have children of about three or four years of age. During the second week the scholars are asked to bring children of two or three years. During the third week still younger children of one or two are desired; whilst in the fourth week a number of children of different ages are studied, so that the students get an idea of general child management in the home.
These children can never forget the teaching they get at school, associated as it is with the practical work they have to do in looking after the child in their entire charge. The teacher discusses with them the sort of food the child should get according to its age, and teaches them how often the child should be fed to keep it in health and good nourishment.
She shows them the way to bath the child, so that never again can they go back to careless, unhygienic habits. They have to do everything for the child under their charge for the time being-see that it gets enough sleep and rest, attend to its amusement as well as its food, and keep it "good," in the sense that it is well disciplined, useful, occupied, and, therefore, happy, contented and well behaved.
It is found that the mothers of these young students speak highly of the improvement in the girls after they are taught home-making and child management at school. Indeed, one of the best proofs of success, in Miss Hughes's opinion, is the fact that the mothers of the girls have been entirely won over to interest and enthusiasm. They come to the class themselves in order to see something of the teaching. They arrange for the little girls to do the same work on Saturdays that they have learnt during the week at school, and they willingly send their younger children to act as babies in the nursery. The little girls themselves love the training, and the scheme is so excellent that there is every prospect that the idea will be followed in other parts of the country.
Many people think that child management should be taught to the senior girls in every girls' school. The great difficulty is that the curriculum is already so full that it is almost impossible to find an hour a week for any new subject.
But at Cheltenham College the girls are encouraged to devote the last year of their school life to housewifery, and they are taught something of child training in the kindergarten department of the college. It may be that in future housewifery and home making will become compulsory in every girls' school, and then baby management will have its due share of attention.
Already at Highcliff School, Scarborough, this idea is worked on practical lines. A. special house is set apart for the teaching of home craft and the training of the schoolgirls in the management of infants. Babies are always in residence, and the young students are taught by a Queen Charlotte nurse, who gives lectures and practical work in the feeding and clothing of children. The girls take the greatest interest in the work, and quickly learn how to dress and undress the baby, to make the little clothes, and to prepare its food in detail. The nurse also gives them simple lessons in various little ailments of infancy, and how to deal with them. The experiment is turning out a great success, and there is no doubt that in the future the idea will be adopted by other schools.
Feeding a baby in the nursery at Highcliff School. The girls learn the proper preparation of infants' food as well as other details of nursery routine