We are raising adults, not children.
This perspective was shared with us a while back and it got us thinking. It’s true! By the time our child leaves our house, they should be functioning as a full grown adult. Now they will always be learning, but our children should be able to feed themselves, clothe themselves and maintain their home when they leave our home. These skills however are not natural – they need to be taught.
We have learned that summertime is an excellent time to teach them these new skills. There is more time for instruction and there are many days available to practice. If you are worried about how to fill the long hours of summer, look no further!
Your Child’s Needs
What does your child need? The first step is to think about the school year that is ending…what skills would have been helpful for them to have? What are some tasks or chores that it would have been helpful if they could have participated in? Maybe it was making their own lunch to make your mornings less hectic, or doing their own laundry to give you more time on the weekends to have fun with them. Maybe having an extra hand in the kitchen or a clean bathroom would have helped you out on a busy week. Pick one task and then devote time this summer to teach and train them how to do it.
Prepare your Heart:
Here are some key tips to make this a successful time of turning over the reins.
- They will not do it as well as you. Prepare yourself for that and learn to be okay with it.
- Remember they are just beginning. You weren’t able to do it perfectly for a while. Give them time to learn and improve.
- They will have questions, so be patient and understanding.
- They will learn best by watching you model the task. Show them first with an explanation. Do it together next. Then let them do it on their own with supervision before turning them loose on their own. (Don’t just tell them what to do and abandon them.)
- Written cheat sheets are an excellent way for everyone to be successful.
Tasks to Teach:
- Cleaning their room. When they were little, I made a picture chart showing them pictures of what it means to clean their room. I even took a picture of what should be on each bin and taped it to the bin. As they got older and able to read, I changed it to words. To be successful make sure their room has the possibility of being clean—Do they have enough storage space or drawer space? Does everything have a designated spot?
- Making their own lunch. This is a game changer! In our house you get help making your school lunch in Kindergarten. In 1st grade you are learning to do it on your own. And then from second grade on up you are solely responsible for your own lunch. One thing that helped us with this transition is to make a list of what they are supposed to put in their lunch. You can download our What to Pack printable.
- Doing Laundry. This is another one that you need to model how to do. Teach them your logic for sorting. Make a step by step list on how to run the machines and post it in the laundry room. Then explain how to fold each article of clothing. Remember they won’t fold as well as you but keep in mind they will be helping you with a huge task. This is a needed skill for life. I had a college friend whose solution to doing laundry was to buy enough underwear and socks to last her until Thanksgiving when she went home and had her mom do it. Try to prevent this from happening to your child!
- Cleaning the Bathroom. This is another task that takes time and patience. They will not get the bathroom to shine like you do, but they will get better over time. And it might help them keep the bathroom cleaner, since they know how hard it is to clean it! Walk them through every aspect of safely cleaning the bathroom. What products should they use? What does “clean” look like to you? Teach them what is a daily task and what is a weekly task. Even if they don’t get it as clean as your standards, they will definitely give you a head start if you need to go in and finish up the work.
- Cooking. This is an ongoing training that you should do with both your girls and your boys. Each kid should be able to feed themselves before they leave the house. Some kids will love to learn how to cook while others just want to do the bare minimum. Either way it is important that we are intentional with teaching them skills. If you have no idea where to begin, our daughter Rebekah has put together a Kitchen 101 handout. In this you will find skills and tasks needed to begin your kitchen training. Once these tasks are learned you can move on to their favorite dishes or more complicated tasks. Their future spouse will thank you for the time and effort you put into this one!
- House Maintenance. This one is a little hard to teach because you often need something to break before you can teach them. For some families there isn’t the time or the ability to fix things around the house. That is okay! Teach them how to know who is a good repair company and how to call and set up the appointment. If you are able to fix things yourself, have them help. Teach them how to diagnose the problem, what tools to use and then have them watch or help you fix it.
- Yard Maintenance. Mowing the lawn is something all kids should do at least once. In our home the boys do all the mowing, but Nathan has taught the girls how to do it too. You never know, the girls might have to jump in and help if their husband is away on business or if they are single and have a yard to maintain. String trimming and bush and tree maintenance are skills that will help them take care of the home God has provided them.
- Car Maintenance. This is one skill that I am thankful we also have AAA as an option. My skill level in taking care of cars is minimal, but I do know enough to obey lights and know what to check. While a dad, husband or AAA is always a phone call away, every child should know how to change a tire, check air pressure in the tire, check oil and windshield wiper fluid and fill a car with gas.
- Pray beforehand. Ask the Lord to bless this time with your children.
- Start small. Most tasks can not be taught all at once without overwhelming the child. Pick 1-2 aspects of the big task and start there. Then as they start to master those skills add the next.
- Praise more than you correct. They say you should praise 7 times more than you correct. Keep this in mind as they learn new skills. Always point out what they did well. Correct only one or two things at a time. You want them to be encouraged to continue to learn and not feel defeated before they even begin.
- Be consistent. Remember how you teach them and do it the same each time. Also make sure you schedule this into your weeks. When learning a new skill they need to do it consistently so that they can really solidify what they have learned.
- Have fun. Put on music while you complete the tasks. Have a grateful and joyful spirit versus one that leads to grumbling and complaining. God has given us many things and it is our job to steward it well!
- Celebrate! Celebrate their diligence and effort. Praise them for learning the next step towards adulthood. Remind them that they can do all things through Christ. Encourage them to be confident to try new things by reminding them how they learned a new skill and were successful.
Kids are never too young to start checking these skills off the checklist. The habit of cleaning up toys should start as soon as they can get themselves around the room. Then as they age it is important that you start adding more and more skill sets to their adult toolbox. Our children range from 8-15 and all of them have been making their lunch, doing their own laundry and cleaning the house and bathrooms for years.
Nathan is also constantly teaching the kids how to maintain the house and the yard. Yes, it does take him longer to do the tasks at first, but I now have multiple people who can fix things or perform a task whether or not Nathan is around.
This summer we are going to focus a little more on car maintenance now that we have one new driver and soon to be two. The girls will be moving onto Kitchen 201 or 301 while I focus on Kitchen 101 with the boys.
What task are you going to focus on this summer with your children? How can you make this a summer of learning and growing? Remember you are raising adults who are capable of doing a lot!