Summer Camp at Home – Life Skills Week

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Life Skills Week

Life skills week might not have your kids screaming with excitement.  However, if your family is anything like mine, we are usually pretty busy when we’re not quarantining.  With the crazy schedules that many families have today, it’s easy to overlook teaching opportunities that are our apart of our everyday lives.

In this Summer Camp at Home post, I’ll share several life skills every kid should know AND map out some fun ideas on how to teach these to your kids this week.  The ideas in this post are likely best suited for older elementary and middle school kids, but you may be able to adapt some of these activities for younger kids too!

Day 1 – Finance

The basic principles of money and money management can be taught at an early age.  While I map out other activities for each day this week, the finance lesson actually spans the entire week.

  • At the beginning of the week.  Give your child money that they need to use for other lessons this week. Could be $20, or whatever amount you’re comfortable with.  You could use play money if you’re not comfortable giving them actual money.
  • Later in the week, they will be cooking and planning a trip.  Tell your child, they need to use this money to pay for stuff happening this week.  Also, give your child opportunities to earn money throughout the week by teaching them how to do new household chores and earn money doing them.
  • Then, sit down with your child and go over the plan for the week.  Help them write out a budget using the money you gave them to account for what they’ll be able spend on each activity this week.
  • Get a piece of paper, or check register if you have one laying around, and teach them how to balance a checkbook by entering the amount of cash they have on hand and explaining to them they’ll need to deduct from that total each time they buy something.
  • If you’re looking for some more in depth teaching tools, Dave Ramsey has a whole series designed for kids with lessons on saving and more.  Links to find some of his products on Amazon are here.
  • There are also some great resources on YouTube, like the channel CashVilleKidz.

Day 2 – Cooking or Baking

Most kids can work with an adult to cook, but most don’t realize what goes in to putting together a meal.  Today is about meal planning, reading recipes, creating a shopping list AND going shopping!

  • First, sit down with your child and help them figure out what they’d like to make.  It could be dinner for that night, dessert or just a snack.
  • When they decide, help them find a recipe for what they are making and write down the ingredients needed.
  • Tell your child to look through the cupboards to see what you have and what you don’t so they can come up with a shopping list.
  • Remind your child that the money spent on this has to come out of their budget so they better not plan a steak dinner if they’ve only got a hot dog budget.  ?
  • Next, take your child to the store with their shopping list and have them find the items they need to buy.  Be sure to help them add up the items as they go to make sure they have enough to cover it AND stick with the budget they set yesterday.
  • When you get home, have your child enter their purchase on to their budget sheet as if they are balancing a checkbook so they can see how that works.
  • If you’re comfortable and you think they can do it, let your child follow the recipe and cook the item they prepared on their own.
  • Ask them to set the table and invite the people in your house to dinner.
  • If you want to take this a step further, have your child do the dishes from their cooking project.  You could ask them to do it just because it’s what they should do OR you could give them an allowance for doing it that they can add to their budget.  If you give them money, be sure to help them add it to their budget sheet.
  • You could also “tip” them as you would a waiter for their service and tell them to include the money in their budget.

Day 3 – Fix and Build Something

A lot of kids and adults don’t know how to fix or build things around the house! Today’s camp provides some ideas on things you can do around the house with your kids to teach them the basics of fixing things instead of replacing them or hiring someone to fix them.

Start by walking around your house and looking for things that might need attention on occasion, then show them what to do!

Here’s some ideas:

  • Show your child how to change a light bulb.  Even if you don’t need to replace one just yet, show them how to unscrew and replace a bulb.
  • How to change the batteries in the smoke detector.
  • Teach them how to sew a button or a hole.
  • Check bike tires and see if they need air.
  • Check the car’s tire pressure.
  • Show them where your car’s tire jack is and explain how to change a tire or show them the video here!
  • How to turn the water main off in the house.
  • Teach them how to use a sewing machine.

Then let them have some fun!

  • Gather up garbage.  And no I don’t mean your banana peels, I mean stuff from your recycling bin, materials in the garage you aren’t using, etc.
  • Ask them to use their imagination and build something you can use around the house.
  • Have some duct take and glue on hand to help.  Here’s some other things you can get off of Amazon if you don’t have much laying around the house.
  • If you don’t think this is an activity your child could do, you could also buy a kit like I’ve listed below that would teach your child how to follow instructions and build birdhouse.

In addition to teaching them how to do something, some of the suggestions mentioned here can teach them about seeing a job through from start to finish.

Day 4 – Social Skills

Technology connects us like never before BUT it has changed the way kids communicate.  So, on day 4 focus on teaching your child some social skills that they might not use daily in today’s world, BUT may need one day.

To start, teach your kids how give a proper handshake and introduce themselves.  Here’s a quick video to help.  Remind them that right now, handshaking isn’t the best idea with COVID going around!

  • Next, teach them how to make a phone call and carry on a conversation.  Practice on a relative!  I know this sounds silly but so many kids only text now.  Because of this, a lot of kids are missing out on the art of conversation.They don’t know how to ask questions to get to know someone or even carry on a phone conversation. So, encourage them to talk about something going on in their life.  If they are having a problem with something, encourage them to ask the other person for advice!  This teaches kids how ask someone more experienced for advice.
  • Then, have them practice taking a phone message.
  • Ask them to write a letter.  You could have them send a letter to a relative or you can even use this resource to send a letter to Support Our Troops.  In addition to writing the letter itself, be sure to show them how to address the envelope, where to write the return address and where to put the stamp!

Here’s a few other ideas of ways to help your kids with social skills:

  • Teach them how to play with a baby or someone younger with them.
  • Have them volunteer to do something.
  • Have them help you pick out a gift for someone.

Now, start prepping for tomorrow! Have your kids plan and prepare for an outing you’ll go on the next day.  Encourage them to make it something that everyone will enjoy.  Tell them they will need to use their budget to pay for anything they do that day.  The idea behind this is to teach kids how to plan a day out with others in mind and how to stick to a budget while doing it (you know kind of how adults do when they plan trips to Disney, the amusement park and all those other activities we really don’t want to do but do for our kids ?.)

Help them start planning by giving them some ideas.  You could:

Once they decide where you are going, create a list of what they need to prepare for the next day.  For example, if you’re going to the beach have them get the towels, sunscreen and cooler ready!

Day 5 – Take a Trip

At the end of day 4 you had your child plan for a trip today.  It could be something as simple as walking at the local park or something bigger like going to the beach.  Either way, the idea behind this is to teach kids about the effort that goes in to doing things and all the responsibilities that come along with it.

Where ever your travels take you today, remember to have your child use their budget to pay for expenses and have them record what they spent in their register when the day ends. Use it as an opportunity to talk about making and spending money.  Here’s a pretty in depth video to support this conversation if you’d like to use it.

In case you didn’t realize, this post was filled with teaching kids about all the stuff the adults in their life do on a daily basis.  By the end of the week, your child should have a better understanding of what goes in to making a household tick and how to interact with others.

I was inspired to do this post after finding this list called 40 Old-Fashioned Skills That Kids Need to Know Today.  After reading through it and observing my own kids, I realized there were some life skills they needed to learn.  While this week might not be the kid’s favorite, it’s all stuff that will benefit them one day and hopefully give them a greater appreciation for all you do!