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5 Life Skills to Teach Kids this Summer

School may be out for summer, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. When you’re wondering what to do with the kids all day, consider teaching them important life lessons.
To show us how is author Elyssa Andrus.

Now that school is out, it’s natural to ask that panicky question: “What am I going to do with these kids all day?” Summer is a great time to relax, to lounge by the pool and to bond on family vacations. But it’s also a time where parents have extra hours and opportunities to teach important lessons. So in between chill sessions, send your kids to Mom University with the following life skills:

How to budget an allowance. Set your children up for life by teaching them the value of a dollar, as well as basic financial skills such as budgeting and saving. Offer ways for your children to earn money this summer — such as additional chores — and establish a place where they can save their money. (Young children can use piggy banks. Youth can set up a savings account at a local financial institution.) With your children, pick out an item or experience for which to save, and work with them to reach that goal.

How to properly make a bed and scrub a toilet. Numerous studies have shown that children who begin doing chores at a young age, say 3 or 4, are more likely to succeed as adults. Now that the craziness of school is over, take time to show your children how to make their beds neatly (something that should be done every day) and to put their clothes and toys away. Establish a weekly chore schedule, assigning age-appropriate jobs to every member of the family. For example, young children can dust, while older children can scrub toilets and unload dishwashers.

How to run a mile (or bike, or swim, or play a sport). Help your children develop lifelong healthy habits by falling in love with exercise. Summer is an ideal time to enjoy Utah’s beautiful scenery, so hike through Big Cottonwood Canyon, or bike around Utah Lake. There are also dozens of races to be run during the summer, so consider signing up for a family fun run or 5K, depending on the age of your children. The important thing is to help your children find athletic hobbies that suit them, ones that can be continued into adulthood.

How to find the right book. Inexpensive, portable and educational, books are the best “toy” you can buy your children this summer. Children who don’t like to read often haven’t found the right material, so enlist a child or youth librarian for helpful reading suggestions and be sure to explore different genres. Provide time, an inviting location, and some sort of incentive for reading. (Many libraries have free, reward-based summer reading programs.)

How to write a thank-you card. Teach children to express gratitude by writing a thank you card to someone who has helped them. This is a great way to emphasize the principle of gratitude. Equally important is to inspire your children to serve others. Teach this life skill by example, and also by providing ways for your family to serve friends, neighbors and the community. The United Way provides a great list of local organizations that families can serve.

Elyssa Andrus is the author of “Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide.” She blogs with Natalie Hollingshead about parenting and all things domestic at

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