Summer Is the Time for Teaching

by Marenda Babcock


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Spring will soon turn to summer and children will be out of school. The first few carefree weeks are enjoyed by staying up late watching television and chasing after lightening bugs. Then a sense of restlessness settles in at most households. Parents soon begin to wish school was back in session as they hear complaints, "I'm bored, there is nothing to do."

It seems it was easy to entertain children younger than 6, but children 6 to 12 years old are a challenge. Once children begin to enter the early teens, they enjoy having part-time jobs, such as lawn mowing and babysitting. By that age, they would rather be with their friends all summer than with their parents. In essence, the real challenge is the 6- to 12-year-old group.

Instead of looking at this as a challenge to "entertain" your children, why not look at it as a few years that you can use to teach life skills that your children will use the rest of their lives? During these years, children love learning new things. Teaching them things that you do every day helps them to develop confidence.

Here are some suggestions. You could provide your own list according to your hobbies and lifestyle.

Laundry - Your child may not be old enough to load the washing machine, but you can teach them about fabric, sorting by color and fabric, stain removal, how much detergent to use, fabric softener, the use and dangers of bleach, how to hang up laundry, and folding laundry.

Etiquette - Don't laugh. Those in high-powered jobs need perfect social skills. Remember the scene in the movie "Pretty Woman" where Julia Roberts is trying to learn which fork to pick up at a fancy dinner? Children can be taught how to set a table, fold napkins, arrange flowers for a table setting, and manners. You could end the summer by having a formal dinner and inviting some friends for the evening.

Cooking - Children should be taught basic skills such as measuring, following a recipe, how to alter a recipe, and planning a menu that follows good nutritional guidelines. Have children make up 30-day menus and then culminate with cooking a meal by the end of the summer. Teach boys and girls how to plan, shop for, and cook five meals and they will be self-sufficient the rest of their lives.

Sewing - Teach children the basics of how to thread a needle, sew on a button, repair seams and hems, and patch a hole. If you have access to a sewing machine, you could teach them how to sew simple seams by sewing two paper towel edges together. Once straight stitching is mastered, teach your child how to make a pillowcase using fabric of their choice. They will be so proud to show their friends a pillowcase they made themselves.

Golf - More and more executives are encouraged to learn the game of golf. America will never know the thousands of deals that have been made on a golf course. It is also the perfect game because as long as you can still walk, you can play the game and benefit from the exercise.

Build - Building a dog or birdhouse teaches children so many skills. You do the sawing, but they can do the measuring using their math skills. In addition, they can learn how to hammer, sand, and paint from such a project. And Fiddo or your feathered friends will enjoy a brand new home.

Other skills kids can learn include gardening, grocery shopping using coupons, planning a family vacation, learning to wash and wax a car, balancing a checkbook, cleaning windows, and so much more. This summer doesn't have to be an endless maze of do nothing but watch TV. Your kids can learn real life skills that they can use the rest of their lives.

Take the Next Step:

  • With summer vacation soon approaching, it's time to think about useful life skills that you can teach your children that they will benefit from for the rest of their lives. First, consider your hobbies and lifestyle. Do you enjoy gardening? Get your child involved this summer. Are you a foodie? Then teach your son or daughter how to make several different meals.

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