Six life skills your kids can learn this summer

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It’s summer, and the livin’ may be easy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be lazy. Not that I have a problem with lazy. I love days with no agenda or goal in mind. But an entire summer? Uh-uh. To me, that’s a lost opportunity, especially for kids who are old enough to spend the majority of their year in school.

Summer is that blessed moment when you and your kids are released from the lock-step of the schoolday schedule. It’s time to bone up on life skills that get lost under homework and/or after-school activities.

Household responsibility. This summer, teach your kids to do something more ambitious than setting the table or emptying the dishwasher. Show them how to cook dinner for the family. Take them through the process of doing the laundry, from hamper-to-folding. Get them pushing the gas-powered mower. Frame it as “move-out skills” they’ll be proud to have mastered when they become someone’s college roommate.

Independent entertainment. Being able to entertain oneself without the the use of a screen is a major life skill. Get your kids a library card and encourage them to use it (my spin: FREE BOOKS). If your library has website access to the catalog, all the better. Give your kids an old cameraphone or digital camera and send them outside to do a photo project of the neighborhood. Try not to get involved when you’re presented with distressed cries of “I’m bored!” Express your confidence that they will come up with something great.

Time management. Right now, summer feels endless, but come early August the kids will be scrambling to fit in all the fun stuff they planned to do. Sit down with a calendar and map out a few rough plans so you make sure to leave time for the kite-flying and beach-visiting.

Mind-body learning. The mind works better when the body’s engaged. Balance the academics and “head learning” of the school year with experiences and “body learning” of summer. Grab any chance to be active together, or to experience something by observing and doing rather than reading or watching.

Communicating with older and younger generations. In school, kids are surrounded by people their own age. Put them in the orbit of younger and older people, and show them how to connect. Encourage grocery store conversations. Volunteer. Take care of a neighbor’s young children and give your kids some responsibility for entertaining them. Call the cousins and the grandparents more often.

Goal-setting. Summer’s a great time to set a doable goal: X number of pushups, or riding a two-wheeler, or reading X number of books. Give your kids the opportunity to set a goal and reach it. They’ll take the self-confidence from the experience straight into the school year this fall.

What life skills do you intend to teach your kids this summer?

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