Summer break is undoubtedly a great time to relax and vacation, but it’s also the perfect season to purposely teach your kids the life skills that will serve them well today and when they leave your home one day for adulthood.
Whether you have toddlers or teens, take the time over the summer months to teach your kids the life skills they may be lacking. During a busy school year, we sometimes don’t have an opportunity to teach our sons and daughters the crucial things they need to know.
Here are 11 life skills to teach your child this summer and beyond
1. Make a bed
Start simple. “If you can’t do the little things right, you will never be able to do the big things right. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed,” said Naval Admiral William H. McRaven in his University of Texas at Austin 2014 commencement address.
Teach your kids to start each day by making their bed, reinforcing the fact that little things matter.
READ: WHY YOU NEED TO MAKE YOUR BED
2. Write and send mail
In this digital age we are raising kids in, we forget to teach our sons and daughters the basic skills of addressing an envelope properly or where to place the postage stamp. Do your kids know how much stamps cost or where to buy them? A perfect summer field trip might be to the post office.
This summer, have your son or daughter send postcards to their grandparents or other loved ones when you are traveling or mail them from your hometown. What thank you notes need to be written and mailed off to family and friends?
READ: 5 REASONS YOUR KIDS SHOULD WRITE THANK YOU NOTES
3. Pack their camp or travel bags
Whether it’s their sports bag or camp duffle, our sons and daughters need to learn to pack their bags with the contents they need without our help. If your child is younger, you may need to make a checklist for them to follow until they are in the habit of gathering everything by themselves. Older kids can make a list for themselves if need be.
The more you hold your kids responsible for their tasks, the more accountable they will become.
READ: 5 REASONS TO MAKE SUMMER CAMP A PART OF YOUR FAMILY PLAN
4. Tip wait staff
Most parents know to teach their children proper restaurant etiquette- to look at the server in the eye and order their meals for themselves while politely using their manners.
But, many times, we forget to teach our children how to tip. When you eat out this summer, take the time to show your older children how to figure 15%-20% of the bill so they can confidently tip the server when they are out to eat with friends or on a date one day.
5. Make money
If our children drive a car, carry around an iPhone with a data plan, or wear name-brand clothing and shoes, they undoubtedly need to contribute to paying for these privileges.
Even if we can afford a comfortable lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that we should hinder our child from learning the valuable life skills of working and earning money.
Can you come alongside your son or daughter and help them resell things online or start a business washing windows or mowing lawns? I’m also a big advocate of having teens get summer jobs in the community- at local restaurants and retailers like we used to do back in the day.
READ: WHY MY TEENS WILL SPEND THE SUMMER WORKING IN A RESTAURANT
6. Manage money
If our children are going to make money, they need to learn to manage it.
Help your child open a bank account eventually attached to a checkbook or debit card. Teach them how to go into a bank branch and talk to the teller and help them manage their account online.
If your child isn’t old enough to work yet, another way for them to learn to manage money is by giving them a consistent monthly allowance. Don’t pay your child for their performance or for doing chores. But instead, provide them with an allowance for being a valuable part of your family.
READ: 4 TIPS TO GIVING KIDS AN ALLOWANCE
7. Contribute to the household
Everyone in our home is expected to pitch in, for the good of the family team, without getting paid a stipend for it. If you live in the house, you get to help take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, help with meals, and clean this or scrub that.
Your child should have repetitive contributing work that benefits the good of the entire household and not just responsibility for caring for their stuff.
8. Fill out paperwork
Come alongside your tweens and teens and begin teaching them how to fill out their camp, sports, and medical paperwork to the best of their ability now so that they are comfortable filling out their job and college applications one day.
Filling out paperwork is a pain that none of us enjoy, but it’s a fact of life that our older children can certainly handle.
READ: 3 THINGS YOU NEED TO TEACH YOUR HIGH SCHOOLER BEFORE THEY GO TO COLLEGE
9. Know pertinent information
I was driving my daughter’s friend home, and she couldn’t tell me where she lived. The 14-year-old knew her address but couldn’t tell me the major crossroads near her house. Her cell phone was dead, and she didn’t know her Dad’s phone number either.
The adult kindly driving our child home shouldn’t need a data plan to get them there. Our child should know parents’ phone numbers and how to direct an adult to the vicinity of their home without an app. Teach your son or daughter the major crossroads near your home and how to navigate the local area using their brain instead of a device.
10. Make a meal
The summer season is a perfect time to teach our sons and daughters how to navigate the kitchen.
Our younger children can make and pack their lunches for camp, while our older ones can come alongside us and learn to cook dinners for the entire family once in a while. It’s also essential to take the time to teach your child how to navigate the grocery store and shop smart.
Grab my Kitchen and Summer Skills Lists in my ‘How to Create A Summer of Significance Printable Pack HERE!
Be sure to check out my interview “How to Launch Your Teen on Purpose: Teaching Life Skills to Your Teens Today That Will Prepare Them for Tomorrow on Kids Cook Real Food!
11. Laundry from start to finish
Teach your child the task of doing their laundry from start to finish.
“Very few people have a washing machine that’s more complicated than a tablet. If they can work an iPad, they can do laundry,” said childhood expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa, whose eight-year-old son made a YouTube video teaching college students how to do laundry.
Take the time this summer to teach your child to do their laundry from start to finish.
READ: 8 THINGS YOU SHOULD STOP DOING FOR YOUR TEEN
We must remember that one of our main goals as a parent is to teach our children what they will need to know when they leave our home for adulthood. Use summer break as an opportunity to strengthen your son or daughter’s set of life skills.
What life skills will you be striving to teach your child this summer?