6 life skills that are incredibly useful to learn this Summer

August 15, 2017 Published by

Summer is a great time for a break and an opportunity for your child to just enjoy playing – which is a vital part of their development – without the pressure of school and homework.

But it also gives you the chance to teach your child important life skills, which they might not be able to learn in school. Skills such as doing chores or handling money which are valuable in themselves, but also teach your child further skills that can help them to learn in the classroom; such as maths, problem solving, and time management.

Here are a few activities you might want to get your youngster involved inver the Summer holidays, to give them experience in life skills (and get some housework done in the process!):


Make a meal together

Parent and Child baking together


Five to seven years

From the age of five, children can start learning some cooking techniques with plenty of adult guidance. They can chop with a small knife, grate, measure (which is excellent for their maths skills!), and mix ingredients together. Cooking a simple recipe from scratch helps your child learn what goes into their food, promotes healthy eating and gives them more tasks to get involved with.

Eight to 12 years

Older children can be given the responsibility of planning a meal, choosing the recipes and helping shop for the ingredients. They can have a little more independence – let them be ‘head chef’ – but you will still need to supervise. This gets them thinking more about what goes into their meals, the preparation required, and safety (avoiding burns/cuts and how to deal with them when they happen). Doing the food shop also gets them to plan how much of each ingredient they need, think about value (what is the cheapest way to buy what they need?) and of course practise handling money when they come to pay.


Do the laundry


Child inside washing machine


Five to seven years

Younger children can take clothes off of the drying rack or out of the tumble dryer, and help fold them. They can also match socks (and this is actually something even toddlers can do!). This helps children understand the work that goes into washing clothes and learn the steps needed to do their own laundry in the future.

Eight to 12 years

At this age children can start to sort the clothes ready for washing, and learn how to set the washing machine up with some guidance. They can also change their own bed cover and duvet. You can teach them how to sew a button on a shirt or mend clothes – this is a great way to promote reusing rather than throwing away old clothes, and sewing is truly a skill for life. It might even turn into a hobby!


Run a car boot stall


Parent and Child Running a Car Boot Stall


Five to seven years

Get your child to have a bit of a clear out in their bedroom and sell unwanted items at your local car boot sale. This is a difficult task that many of us like to avoid, but getting rid of old toys and clothes will free up some much needed space – it will be like a weight has been lifted! You can discuss how much your child might want to sell each item for (and perhaps guide them towards realistic prices!) and have them label it all up too (which is great practise for writing numbers). Let them keep the money they make as an incentive – you could take them out shopping afterwards to find something they’d like. Anything left over can be donated to a charity shop, which gets them thinking about helping others too.

Eight to 12 years

Older children can take much more responsibility with their car boot stall. While you will still need to supervise, they can haggle with potential buyers and handle the money. This helps children practise handling money and develops their maths skills, while also encouraging negotiation skills and confidence. They could also keep a sales book to track how much they have made and what they have sold. Give them the opportunity to come up with their own ideas for the stall – children can be very creative if left to their own devices!


Get the bus somewhere


London bus on Regents Street


Five to seven years

If you have a car, it’s unlikely that your child will have used the bus very often. However, at some point your child will want to go out and about on their own, but won’t be able to drive yet – and knowing how to catch a bus means they won’t be relying on the parent taxi service to get them everywhere. So take a day trip with your youngster and get them involved with the process – show them how to work out with bus to get, and what time it should get there (take a watch and help them work out how long the bus will take – this is a great way to practise reading the time). Encourage them to ask for their own ticket and give their money to the driver.

Eight to 12 years

After some practise, you can put your child in charge of navigating the bus route. You might want to supervise them, but let them work out which bus to get, how much they need for the ticket, etc. Eventually you could let them take a short trip on their own, ideally to a family member’s house or to a friend’s house; somewhere familiar to them, where you can check if they made it there safely. This helps children learn to read timetables and plan routes, building their confidence and independence.

Plan a Bus journey (national)

Plan your Journey (London)


Learn basic first aid


Children Performing CPR


Five to seven years

Hopefully your child will never have to experience a serious injury or accident, but First Aid education means they are prepared if something does happen, and they find themselves alone with an incapacitated adult. For younger children it is important that they know when to get an adult’s help and when to call 999. First Aid education is also about teaching risk assessment, so children understand how to avoid danger. The British Red Cross has some excellent resources that show children how to stay safe and help others . You might want to consider doing a First Aid course yourself (prices range from £37.50 to £50 at the time of writing)  and then teaching your child the skills you learn as appropriate (you know your child best, so use your own judgement to decide what to practice with them). First Aid skills they might be able to learn at this age are applying pressure to a bleeding wound, icing a swollen injury, applying cold running water or a wet towel to a burn, pinching the nostrils for 10 minutes for a nosebleed, draping a blanket over a person in shock and gently rolling a person into the recovery position.

Eight to 12 years

Older children can learn more advanced first aid skills, such as correctly wrapping bandages, CPR, and the Heimlich Maneuver. Again, the British Red Cross  has lots of resources and activities for teaching these First Aid skills. You could also role play with your child to demonstrate some of the procedures in a safe way.


Do some DIY


Child Playing with Screwdriver Toy



Five to seven years

As with cooking, a large part of DIY is learning to assess risk and avoid accidents. Your child can watch as you do DIY jobs; talk them through what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it safely. There are also a few jobs they can have a go at with plenty of supervision – sanding wood, hammering a nail (start it off for them), or painting a wall for example. If you don’t have any jobs that need doing around the house right now, come up with some practice projects so they can hone their skills. Not only is your child learning to fix things (again, promoting the reuse of things rather than throwing things out when they break) they are also improving their hand-eye coordination and concentration skills. Helping paint their own bedroom can be really rewarding (although don’t expect perfection!).

Eight to 12 years

Older children can learn to change a light bulb, hang a picture frame, and saw wood with supervision. Depending on your own skills you can introduce them to other DIY too – the important thing is to make them aware of safety and take them through the task step by step. Mini projects in the garden can be a good way for them to practice, without causing irreparable damage to the house!

With all of these activities, it is important to consider what your child is capable of. Pushing them out of their comfort zone a little bit at a time will develop their skills at the right speed for them, but avoid pushing too hard or too quickly. For example, if your child hasn’t yet mastered peeling potatoes, avoid moving onto chopping just yet.


Photo Credits:

Parent-child cooking by Alan Wat licensed under CC BY 2.0

Line by Sebaastian ter Burg licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

East London Stagecoach Bus by Au Morandarte licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

CPR Class by Army Medicine licensed under CC BY 2.0

Adam new screwdriver toy by Seamus McCauley licensed under CC BY 2.0


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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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