Summer is the highlight of the year for most teens. Having the freedom to do what they want, have fun, and relax. Why not use some of this free time to teach your teen important life skills they will need later in life? In this article, I share 15 important life skills you can easily teach your teen this summer.
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1. Learn About Finances.
Get them a bank account and consider having them earn an allowance or commission (or get a job if they are old enough) Most banks allow your child to get their first checking account when they are about 14 years old. Now is the time to have them learn how to manage their bank account. I recommend setting up a checking account and a savings account. We want to teach our children to save while they are young and learn good money habits early. Show them how to use an ATM and how to pay with their ATM card.
Teach them the importance of saving money. Have them set a savings goal to reach or participate in a savings challenge. Budget Mom has lots of great savings challenge ideas here. We want to encourage our children to save 20% of their income and also set aside 10% to donate or tithe. While most banking can be done online learning how to write a check and balance a checkbook are still important skills.
We are also planning on reading through a book about finances together this summer. I wish my parents had spent time teaching me more about saving, debt, and budgeting when I was a teen. Some books we’re considering are: I Want More Pizza and I Will Teach you to be Rich.
Online classes might work better, Outschool offers a variety of classes that teach the basics of budgeting, investing, earning and saving money.
Some of the great finance classes for teens are:
- Money Management for Teens
- My Mind on My Money: A Teen Guide to Financial Independence
- How Money Works, Understanding Monday, Credit Cards and Finance.
- How to Start a Successful Business for Teens
2. How to do Laundry
Once your children can easily reach into your washer and dryer you can begin to teach them how to do laundry. You may want to write down the steps so they can become more independent with practice. Start by teaching them some of the basics: how to treat a stain, to check all of the pockets, empty the lit trap, and how to sort clothing by color and type. It’s also important for them to understand the settings of the washer and dryer. Folding clothes is also another important skill if they haven’t mastered it already.
By the end of the summer, your child should be able to wash their own laundry without much help. We plan on giving each child a different day of the week to do their laundry this summer. They will be in charge of washing, drying, folding and putting away all of their own clothes.
I would encourage you to teach them how to iron but I’ll be honest, I haven’t touched an iron in years, you can find ways to live without this hassle. 😆
3. Practice Making Appointments
Our kids are growing up in a super digital world where texting, Snapchat, and Facetime have become the normal way to communicate. The summer is a great time to have your kids practice making a few important phone calls. Making a doctor’s appointment, haircut appointment, or calling the bank to ask about their account, are great ways to practice phone etiquette and get comfortable making “business” calls.
4. Writing Letters and Addressing Envelopes
Writing letters seems to be a lost art but I think it’s important to encourage your children to do this once in a while. Have them write a few thank you cards and mail them to their teachers over the summer.
Addressing an envelope might seem simple to you and your child may have learned how to do this in school, but have they ever actually practiced it? Do they understand how stamps work? Maybe send a package to a friend or family member who lives far away and have them learn how to pay for postage at the post office.
5. Work on their Hygiene
This is one that you might need to do all of the time, but the summer is a great time for them to really create good habits. Are they showering enough? Do they trim their nails regularly? Are they actually using their deodorant? (be honest, we’ve all wondered)
Teach them how to shave. For ladies, we found that the Billie razor is perfect for girls learning how to shave. They are so much nicer and safer than the razors I grew up using. If you order their starter kit it comes in really cute packaging and makes this new experience a little bit more fun. Get up to a $20 credit to spend on Billie razors and body care by clicking this referral link.
6. How to Cook
We don’t want them starving when they move out but we also don’t want their diet to consist of 3 types of Raman noodles. (though, my daughter would LOVE that!) Once they leave the nest they are on their own for every meal. Summer is a great time to work with your teen and help them master cooking a few different meals. Take time to show them how to properly use a knife, how to store food in the fridge and freezer, and how to thoroughly cook meats so they don’t end up with food poisoning. These basic skills will help them to eat better and feel confident in the kitchen in the future.
You can sign up for great online cooking classes for your teen at Outschool – they offer so many fun classes your teen can take from home. Click here for more information.
A few great cookbooks for teens are:
7. Stay Connected with Their Friends
In this digital world, kids stay in touch pretty well but it’s usually by phone, texting, or gaming. Offer to take a group of friends somewhere fun. Invite them over for a movie night. Plan a pizza party at a park and invite a few friends. Getting them out of the house and face-to-face with friends doesn’t have to be hard.
8. How to Talk About the Hard Stuff
The summer is a great time to sit with your older kids and watch the news, talk about what’s happening in the world and answer their questions. Better yet, work together to find the answers. Make sure they are getting information from a variety of sources. I highly recommend showing them Allsides.com to teach them how different news outlets share facts or opinions. Work with them and encourage them to listen to opposing viewpoints with an open mind and have meaningful discussions.
Ask them how they are handling the bad news they might see in the media. Encourage them to have boundaries with social media and tv. See if you can volunteer together, show them how easy it is to make a difference.
9. How to Apply for a Job
If your teen isn’t already working they will soon be applying for a job. Do they know where to go to ask for an application at a business? Do they have all of the information they need to complete an application? How will they do in an interview? Practicing these things now will help them to be confident when it’s time to begin their job hunt.
You can get a sample application to complete here. Make sure they know their social security number by heart. Some applications as for past addresses and an emergency contact. They will also need to know who they can ask for references.
Interviewing can be super intimidating and to be honest, it might be helpful to practice some interview questions with them at home. Indeed.com has a great list of interview questions (with good answers) here.
10. Understand Their Personality Type
TEAM test, Myers Briggs or Enneagram. They can take a quick 12-minute test and find their Myers-Briggs type at 16Personalities.com. I’ve found the Enneagram to be even more helpful. They can take a test for a small cost at https://www.enneagraminstitute.com. Another good way to learn what Enneagram Type they might be is to read through the different types. Learning about each type will really help them to figure out what number they are.
There are many other great personality tests online. They can be a lot of fun but they are also a helpful tool to help you better understand your child and help them understand themselves a bit more.
11. Self-Defense and CPR
Our school offers self-defense camp during the summer and it’s a great way for your children to learn how to protect themself. Unfortunately this has become an important skill for our children to learn but I’d rather have them be prepared and confident if they ever need to protect themself.
Knowing CPR and Heimlich are important skills and are helpful if your child is babysitting or working at a summer camp. Red Cross holds classes all across the US you can find a class near you here.
12. How to Grocery Shop
Once your child(ren) is in college or moves out, they will be on their own at the grocery store. Helping them understand where to find everyday items in the store will enable them feel more independent and confident later. Have your teen/tween plan a meal or two and buy all of the ingredients at the store by themselves. They will not only learn where to find things in the store but they will also learn how to read lables to see quantities and learn how to buy only what they need.
13. Basic Sewing Skills
Knowing how to sew on a button or hem a pair of pants will always be a useful skill. You never know when they will find themselves in a jam with a missing button right before an important interview or appointment. Knowing how to do a few basic stitches can really be a lifesaver!
14. How to Properly Clean the House
We have been working with our kids for years on teaching them how to properly clean the house. We started with a simple chore chart when they were younger and moved up to using Chore Cards now that they are older. The Chore cards have been wonderful! Each card gives you a checklist of cleaning tasks for each room so that they learn how to thoroughly clean instead of just rushing through the chores.
15. Spend Time with Them.
Yes, they are home all day! You probably feel like you see them every moment of the day, but are you really connecting with them. Plan to really spend time together. I love taking our kids on one-on-one “dates” so we have time to talk, just the 2 of us. Even just a long car drive can make room for important discussions. We love taking the kids out to breakfast, going for a hike, heading to the local gas station to grab a slushy, or everyone’s favorite, ice cream! These are some of my favorite times when I really get to know more about our children. It gives them a safe place and your full attention to discuss anything important.
I hope you found this helpful. Summer is a fun and relaxing time but it’s also a great time to work on some of these “adulting” skills with your teens.
Do you do any of these things with your teens? What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.