Summer is a Great Time to Teach Kids New Skills

I’m still getting used to summer break around here. It’s not always that simple when you work at home. Suddenly the kids are everywhere, every day.

I’ve given my kids warning, though. Summer also means they’ll be learning new skills, not all of them for fun things.


In some ways, summer is a great time to add on new chores to the kids’ to-do lists. They have more free time to do chores, and certainly time to pick up new skills relating to them. My oldest will be learning more about how to do laundry, for example.

Fun Skills

Remember the fun skills kids can learn over the summer.

You don’t want to forget the fun skills kids can learn over the summer. Swimming is my usual big one for the kids, and it will continue to be the big one until they’re all excellent swimmers.

My oldest will learn more cooking skills this summer, as she’s tall enough to deal with more things. She’s pretty eager.

We’re also considering sewing skills. Not terribly vital the way most people live these days, but it can be a fun skill anyhow. Just have to see if my hand-me-down sewing machine is in good working condition still.

Find out what your kids want to learn that you can either teach or sign them up for a class to learn. Maybe look at subjects their school isn’t teaching so well.

Money Habits

While you should encourage your kids to have good money saving and spending habits all year, the summer can be a great time to go into more details. Have the ones who are old enough really look at what goes into a household budget. Somewhat younger ones can deal with just a grocery budget.

If you’re going on a family vacation, have the kids make their own budgets for whatever spending money they’re allowed for the trip. These will probably need to be pretty flexible, but help them to understand when they can come back to that treasure that is a “must buy” the instant you get wherever you’re going. It’s not easy keeping kids from spending money too quickly much of the time, but it’s a great lesson.

Another great time to teach kids about budgets is when you do back to school shopping, probably later in the summer. Give them a budget that you can deal with. Let them see how much they can afford to buy on it. This can come as a real shock to those who need the latest and hottest brands and styles, but it can also help them to see where less expensive clothes are a good thing.

Writing to Pen Pals

Kids usually have a few friends they miss over the summer. Maybe a school friend goes away for the summer, or maybe there’s an old friend who used to live nearby but doesn’t anymore. Or maybe there’s someone else your child could write to.

Encouraging your kids to write to a pen pal is a wonderful way to encourage them to keep writing during the summer.

Encouraging your kids to write to a pen pal is a wonderful way to encourage them to keep writing during the summer. You can improve penmanship and writing style this way.

I don’t expect long letters when my daughter writes to friends, and she doesn’t get long letters in return. Letters don’t happen in either direction terribly often. But it’s a lot of fun for them to get letters.

As kids get older, this may switch to emails. You will have to decide if this is acceptable to you or if you want to keep encouraging hand written letters. On the one hand, emails are more quickly delivered, and may encourage more frequent writing. On the other hand, they don’t help with penmanship or the habit of writing traditional letters to people. Your call.


If you can spare the time, take your kids out to volunteer somewhere. Pick a cause that will let you and your child work for them and go to it.

You don’t have to do it often, but volunteering is an amazing way to let your children see that others have need of their help. There’s a lot to be done for people who are much less fortunate.

Problem Solving

One thing many schools don’t teach so well right now is problem solving. Set up a challenge for your child and have him or her solve it.

Set up a challenge for your child and have him or her solve it.

This could be a series of clues you set up. It could be a discussion of a challenge you faced in your own past, and you ask your child how he or she would solve it. It could be an imaginary scenario. It could even just be math problems more challenging than given in school, if that’s your preference.

Being able to think a problem through, whatever sort of problem it may be, is a great skill to have in life. Not every problem has a clear right and wrong answer, of course, but that can be a part of the lesson.


One thing that can be really hard for kids is to speak out for themselves. Others do it almost too well. But many kids don’t speak up when they have a problem they need help with, or when they have their own opinion.

Being assertive at appropriate times is a big help. It’s easy for parents and teachers to encourage kids to be passive, saying they’re being good when they don’t speak out. That’s not always the right lesson.

If your child has an opinion, hear them out. Enc0urage them to express it in detail, even if you don’t agree.

Too assertive can be a problem as well, so if this looks to be a problem, talk about when it’s right to assert yourself and when it may be better to be a bit more careful about asserting an opinion. It can be a problem in school at times, especially with some teachers. Make sure home is a safe place for your kids to express opinions, and have calm conversations about differing opinions.

This is a lot to work on over the summer, but you don’t have to do it all. Get the things done that appeal to you. And make sure you make time for fun.

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2 Responses

  1. The Mother says:

    New skills?

    Like Wii tennis? Competitive bickering? Reluctant job hunting?

    I know! Marathon sleeping!

    That’s pretty much the way teens approach summer. But I like your ideas, too.

  2. Stephanie says:

    You’re making me so glad mine aren’t teens yet!