4 Life Skills to Teach Your Kids This Summer
I already hear the cry echoing across the blogosphere – “Summer is coming!”
Wait! Calm down! I have a few summer vacation ideas to keep your kids busy and teach them some new skills at the same time. Of course, it’s up to you to determine what is age appropriate for your children. (I’ve broken the skills down into ‘beginner,’ ‘intermediate,’ and ‘advanced’ options – depending on your situation and your kids, use or disregard the classifications with abandon.)
- Meal Planning and Cooking
We all have to eat. Why not take a bit of the burden off of yourself this summer and let your kids learn a few new skills at the same time.
Beginner: Let them help you cook dinner. Depending on their age, they can wash vegetables, measure or mix ingredients, and maybe even learn how to use a knife properly.
Intermediate: Let them actually do the cooking with supervision. Teach them how to read a recipe and use the oven and stove. Maybe while you’re making one part of the meal, they can make the other.
Advanced: Assign them one day a week where they are responsible for deciding what to make and then cooking it. As you go throughout the summer, I would add additional restrictions as well – a balanced meal with all food groups, made from scratch. (No box meals.) Also, if you’re comfortable with it, perhaps you can give them a budget and let them do the grocery shopping as well. Maybe make it fun and add weekly challenges – using only food on sale, food that requires no cooking, no meat, only food that you currently have in the pantry and freezer, only leftovers from other meals, etc. Let them experience real life menu planning and cooking challenges while there is still help and potential for back-up assistance.
Looking for some assistance? Check out my prior posts on my top resources for recipes, menu planning, and how to cook from scratch.
I imagine that a lot of kids are already responsible for some part of the laundry, whether sorting, folding, putting away or a combination of those three. It’s a good for them to know how to properly care for all types of clothes so that they last longer and aren’t ruined in the cleaning process.
Beginner: Have them sort their laundry based on lights, darks, towels and sheets (or however you group your laundry together). Once it’s done, have them fold it and put it away.
Intermediate/Advanced: Make them responsible for their own laundry. Maybe they have their own day of the week where the machine is theirs to get their own clothes washed and dried, or perhaps all family laundry goes into the same sorter and they’re responsible for all or some of the washing, drying, and separating for family members to put it away. Make sure that they learn how to read the labels so that they know what items should be set aside for dry cleaning or require special care. Show them how to properly care for clothes that might need to be hung to dry, hand washed, or reshaped and dried flat (like sweaters).
- House Cleaning and Basic House Maintenance
Again, this may be something that you’re already doing, but make sure your kids know how to do basic, regular house cleaning as well as cleaning that may need to be done less often. I think it’s important to know how to get through a quick clean of rooms (like bathrooms) that keeps them from getting extra dirty. If they think of it as simple, hopefully it becomes not as much of a big deal. It’s also good to include them when you do house-maintenance type items like changing a/c filters, cleaning ceiling fans, cleaning the oven – that way they are aware that things like that may need to be done. Definitely work with them the first few times and show them how it should be done.
Beginner: Let them help with house cleaning. Maybe it’s wiping up after you spray, sweeping, picking up trash. Let them help and (more importantly) don’t re-do it after they’re done. Especially when they’re young, make it fun.
Intermediate: Assign specific house chores and rotate them so they learn how to do various things. Vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, wiping down the counters, mopping floors.
Advanced: Let them help with less-frequent house maintenance items. Teach them how to make basic household cleaners (better for the environment and better for us!).
Nothing makes us appreciate what we have (or don’t have) more than helping others. There are so many ways to give back and volunteer, everyone can find something that they can get involved in. A few places to consider: food pantry, animal shelter, riding therapy, soup kitchen, homeless or domestic violence shelter, church, library, school, park, roadside cleanup… I’m sure there are a lot of other places as well that I’m just not thinking of. Many times your kids are a part of a group that is already giving back (scouts, church, etc.) but I think it’s also important for them to learn to give back as individuals as well. Work with them to find something that intersects their interests and schedule and make a commitment for the summer for them to go at least a couple times a month.
There’s a prior post for this as well: the importance of giving back.
What other summer vacation ideas do you have that could teach your kids life skills at the same time?