Summer School: A Time for Skills Training

Written by contributor Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Summer. A time for swimming, sleeping in, watching a little more TV, reading a few more books, cook-outs and family vacations. In short, summer typically offers a more relaxed schedule and a little more free time.

Even if you school year ’round, chances are your summer schedule isn’t as packed with outside activities as normal.

More time and less structure can make summer the perfect time to learn some new skills. No, I’m not talking about the three R’s. I’m talking about those things that can make your home run more smoothly when school is back in session.

Summer can be the perfect time for kids to learn to:

Cook

If you’ve got an older child, make summer lunch or dinner times your “home ec” class. Whether you’re trying new recipes or teaching her how to make family favorites, time spent cooking together can be as much about making memories as it is about meal prep.

My teen likes to find new recipes online to try. I help as much or as little as she prefers (which usually requires that I be within earshot if she has a question, but otherwise stay out of her way). She gets the feeling of accomplishment from preparing the meal and I get a night off from cooking. Win-win.

If you’ve got a younger child, teaching him to “cook” may mean that he learns to operate the microwave or toaster to prepare simple snacks for himself. Cooking could also involve easy, kid-friendly recipes found in one of many available cookbooks for kids. It may mean help with easy meal prep, like measuring, chopping, or mixing.

When school resumes in the fall, your summer learning means that you’ll have help you can count on at mealtimes and your kids will be picking up valuable skills for caring for their own families some day.

Clean

I love using summer as a time to teach homemaking skills that my kids can take over from me or an older sibling. Some examples are:

  • Cleaning the bathroom – counter tops and mirrors for younger kids, bathtubs and toilets for older.
  • Sweeping or mopping
  • Vacuuming
  • Dusting
  • Loading/unloading the dishwasher
  • Clean their rooms (without shoving everything under the bed or in the closet)

Photo by joeannenah

Do laundry

When it comes to laundry, there is something for almost any age child. Younger kids can handle sorting dark and light clothes, folding towels and matching socks. Not only does this help lessen the load on Mom, but it teaches valuable skills such as sorting and categorizing and helps improve fine motor skills.

Older elementary kids can learn how to start a load of wash, operate the dryer and how to fold, hang, and put away clothes. Teens can begin to start doing their own laundry…and maybe even Mom and Dad’s!

Taking time during the summer to ensure that kids know to properly do household tasks can pay big dividends when the busyness of the school year and outside activities resumes in the fall.

In what ways do your kids help out around the house?

About Kris

Kris, who blogs at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, is a homeschooling mom to three amazing kids and wife to her unbelievably supportive husband. She enjoys photography, running, and drinking sweet tea. You can connect with Kris on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Comments

  1. Sybil says:

    This is great! I am always saying that we are going to have home ec as part of our curriculum this year. I have already covered laundry, looking forward to baking together (especially bread) and teaching my daughter about cooking meals.

  2. Allison Fambro says:

    The kids have their daily chores (bed, room, clothes put away), then they have one “big” chore a day (bathroom, vaccum, car etc). Each day we are all working on the same cleaning “theme” the 9 yo does his solo but the 4yo accomplishes her chores by my side. Its a learning process for us all, I never was a super clean house person.

  3. Rachel E. says:

    I have my kids helping around the house all year around. There is always something to do. Momma can’t do it herself, can she? I’ll admit, they aren’t always cheerful about it. Okay, they aren’t ever cheerful. However, they have their set chores and they need to do them when the chart says.

    My kids also have to prepare a breakfast, lunch, and dinner each week. They love it and get so excited about it. They pick what they want and get minimal help from me. Of course the younger ones get a little more because they need to be taught certain things.
    Rachel E.’s latest post: Where To Go

  4. Jennifer says:

    A life lesson we are working on this summer is swimming. Seriously! My kids aren’t strong swimmers yet and I really want to change that. It will be a life long skill. It also happens to be one they are very enthusiastic about. Another skill I was just discussing with my 10yo is basic sewing. Sewing on a button and hemming pants are skills that can come in handy for anyone.
    Jennifer’s latest post: Beetles- Bugs- and Butterflies!

  5. My 3 kids are BIG helpers around the house! I’m very fortunate! We’ve been spending more time this summer doing simple, fun Science experiments, going on nature walks, going on some extra field trips, and heading to the lake.

  6. Dee says:

    My kiddos all help out around the house. Daily, they are responsible for kitchen cleanup (which includes sweeping and un/loading the dishwasher), putting away laundry, and keeping the public areas of the house tidy. My 10 y/o son usually cooks one dinner a week. Even my 18 month old can pick up and throw away trash!
    Dee’s latest post: School’s out!

  7. This is a great reminder for me to add in some “home ec” daily. I want my boys to grow up to have the ability to cook, clean and care for themselves and their families really well. These are great skills to focus on during summer!
    Tara@riceandbeanslife’s latest post: Do You Read the Box A Tip on Finding…Tips!

  8. Summers are great for learning great skills. My children are very young, but the 2 year old is a great helper (and he loves to help). I am putting both of my children in swimming class this summer. I want them to be great swimmers and not have a fear of the water. Great post!
    Shelley (EvenAndy)’s latest post: Taste the Rainbow

  9. I was just thinking about this topic – cooking specifically. I have a tiny kitchen that isn’t well configured – really, a one-man kitchen. I need to be better about having one child at a time in there to chop, wash, or assemble meals with me. You are so right, it will teach them how to care for their own families one day. Thanks for a great post and good reminders!
    Shawn @ Daffodil Lane’s latest post: Seeds and Beads

  10. Lovin' Life says:

    Such a great post. We just put up chore charts for our kids, and they are able to earn five cents per chore that they do…I know that doesn’t seem like much, but it can earn them over a dollar a week if they do all their chores. And for little kids I think its pretty good. Summer time is such a good time to be able to spend more time with our kids teaching them…without feeling so rushed because we have to get back to school.
    Lovin’ Life’s latest post: Summer!!!

  11. Jill says:

    My girls are 3 (twins) and they love to help Mommy. They have had a standing job of pushing the laundry basket to and from the laundry room as I wash and fold laundry since they could walk LOL Now they even pull the dry laundry from the dryer and put their clothes away after I fold them. I put up with things not being perfectly in the drawers to see them proud of their accomplishment! They also help feed the pets, pick up their toys, and put away the “kid friendly” dishes when I unload the dishwasher. Whenever they want to help I try to find something for them to do. My most creative is giving them damp sponges to clean their toy kitchen while I cleaned the real kitchen – I didn’t want them around the chemicals I was using, but I wanted them to practice for when they are older. I have found that if I involve the kids in whatever I am doing, they are more relaxed and willing to let me get done what needs to be done.

  12. Susan says:

    You are so right on with life skills being something to focus on during the summer. Often times kids go off to college and may have been top of their class, but cannot do their own laundry or cook anything other than in the microwave! Great advice!

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