Each year there are a handful of life skills that my children should
have already master. Connor (11) thinks that means achieving some arbitrary level in some video game. I tend to think they are a little more life skill focused.
For example, on the very last day of school when my son was finishing 3rd grade I suddenly realized that he had no idea how to tie his shoes (That mother of the Year Award was an easy win). He had been sliding his shoes on and off, already tied, for YEARS and on the rare chance that they came untied he had a girl from school tie them.
Each Spring, as we begin to look forward to Summer Goals, I make a list of life skill things that my children should be learning, and we pick a few to focus on in the summer. A few are very easy (like tying shoes) a few of them are a bit more difficult (like cooking a meal) If you need some ideas there’s a few little lists you can consult: Life Skills Check List and Life Skills Checklist by Age.
As you are creating your list, here’s a few things that might help.
What are you doing for them that they should do for themselves?
My daughter (7) had ear tubes for the vast majority of her young life. As a result, hair washing was a nightmare of an experience. I absolutely HATED bath day with her, we both left angry and in tears. That summer her goal was to take a shower, with hair washing, from start to finish by herself! I was very detailed
ridiculous about expectations and each day I gave her just a little more responsibility. by the end of the week she had the shower mastered, 3 weeks of hair washing and we haven’t looked back! Bath times have been infinitely more pleasurable this year!
Other ideas: Plugging in devices, making their bed, putting away their own laundry, picking out their own clothes.
Are they gross?
I’m hoping you’ll agree with me but kids are just gross. They are always dirty, their breath is always a little weird smelling, showering is sketchy at best, and we aren’t even going to talk about teeth brushing and tween deodorant wearing! OMG Summer Vacation is a great non-rushed time to spend time with the floss and the deodorant. Last year we even had an unwritten goal to NOT WIPE POOP on the wall. I wish I was kidding.
Other ideas: Chewing with your mouth closed, not talking with your mouth full, washing hands, keeping your hands to yourself, potty training!
What would make your life easier, and they could learn something?
If your kids are like mine, the minute an article of clothing hits their body or the floor for any reason it ends up in the laundry basket. Summer Vacation laundry gets overwhelming very quickly. Last summer my son (10) was solely in charge of all his laundry. We established Monday to be his laundry day. He learned very quickly that he could get by with 2 loads a week if he was judicious about what ended up in the laundry. It worked like a charm!
Shannon (8) is terrible with money. If she has a quarter she needs to spend it. This summer we are going to work on budgeting and the cost of things. I’m going to be very intentional about having her bring and spend her own money. No loans or “I’ll pay you back when we get home.”
Other ideas: Making your own breakfast (2 years ago this was magical!), reading to younger siblings.
Is there a particular skill that they are not confident about or would like to learn?
My eldest was 9 before he learned to ride a bike. He was terrified of it. (there’s a good chance he’ll be 25 before he drives a car too). So we made it a summer goal. It took a few weeks but he mastered it and he is a bike riding machine these days.
Other ideas: Roller skating, knitting, computer game coding, math problem solving, counting money, using a sharp knife.
Please note: Goals are Not Chores
Our family has a slew of chores we do each day all year long. I’ll blog about that someday. Summer Goals are intended to teach new skills, or instill new habits they are not intended to serve as chores. Chores are mandatory – Goals are rewarded. We make a serious distinction between the two. We PARTY for summer goals. We have a kick off party with “supplies” and cake and ice cream. At the end of the summer we celebrate summer goals and make a big deal out of their rewards. We want our kids to be proud of their accomplishments and we want them to like to try new and hard things!
STOP: If you haven’t read our Intro piece on Summer Goals – You definitely should. You can find it here. How to Create Fun and Meaningful Summer Goals for your Kids