There are plenty of skills teens need to know before leaving the nest. We talk a lot about manners and social skills in A Young Man’s Guide to Manners, our online course for tween and teen boys, and Etiquette Essentials for girls, but there are many other important skills to teach so they’re prepared for the real world. We know that it can be overwhelming to try to do it all during the summertime when you have them home, but don’t burden yourself with teaching them dozens of life skills this summer. These skills take time to figure out and practice so choose 4-5 and then subsequent summer you can work on a few more.
Here are 5 great skills you can focus on this summer! And don’t forget to make it fun — learn and work on them together to make the most of the intentional time with your teen!
5 Life Skills to Teach Teens this Summer
1. How to Manage a Calendar
Time management is a skill that will serve teens well their entire lives, in college and beyond. Why not teach them now while they have someone helping them? Start with Google Calendar — it’s used by most college students, so it’s good to gain a little familiarity with it beforehand. It’s easy to categorize events or classes by color, add tasks, and use the “Repeat” feature to add recurring events or activities. If they have a summer job, have them put their schedule in their calendar. When they get their class schedule for the upcoming school year, add classes, practices, games, and meetings! The “Tasks” feature is great for reminders to do chores, too.
You can also share and add calendars with different family members to see schedule conflicts ahead of time, which is great if you have multiple teens in multiple activities. And you can always click to view or turn off individual calendars if everything looks too messy!
Beyond learning how to set up a Google Calendar, have your teen make or confirm doctor or hair appointments this summer. They can then add them to their calendar and share the event with you to show you what they’ve learned!
2. How to Make a Few Meals
Make a fun little activity out of this and go to a bookstore to sift through cookbooks with your teen to find one she/he likes! Or buy this cookbook. Also, practice makes progress — while you are cooking, have them put on an apron and help you so you can teach them. They’ll thank you for this later in life, we promise!
Ideas for things to learn to make:
- Eggs (scrambled, over easy, poached, and hard-boiled; eggs go with so much for breakfast and dinner)
- Baked potato (in the oven, and in the microwave for whenever they’re in a pinch)
- Grilled cheese
- Boil water (great lesson in patience and timing in the kitchen!)
- Rice (once they have it down, show them how to make fried rice)
- Pasta (how to cook different noodle types and how long, as well as different sauces)
- Taco meat (they can make it in bulk and use it throughout the week in different dishes)
You can also put your teen in charge of cooking a meal from the cookbook they pick out, once a week or month before they head off to college. Their future roommates will thank you!
3. How to Use a Checking Account
Managing and monitoring their money is another invaluable life skill you should teach at this age. Before they go off to college, teens should know how to deposit a check, endorse a check, withdraw money from an ATM, and write a check. It’s also important to teach them the difference between a credit card and a debit card, as well as how Venmo works.
Here are several places that have bank accounts designed with teens and young adults in mind:
- Greenlight (Also good for tweens)
- Wells Fargo Clear Access Account
- Bank of America Student Banking
- Chase High School Checking Account
4. What to Do in a Roadside Emergency
This may seem like a no-brainer, but so many teens don’t automatically know what to do if their car battery dies, they have a flat tire, or if they get into an accident — and they should! If they’re off at college and something happens, there’s only so much parents can do from afar. So be sure they know:
- Where the car owner’s manual is kept
- How to jumpstart a car
- Where the spare tire is located, as well as their wheel lock
- Who to call if there is a roadside emergency (police, AAA, tow truck, etc.)
- Where the safest place to pull over is
- How to interact with police politely (and not panic)
- To leave a note with their contact info if they hit a car in a parking lot
Create contacts in their phone for AAA, car insurance, and health insurance — it’s even a good idea to create a separate entry in their Notes folder with all of this info, too. Make sure your teen’s car has an emergency and first-aid kit, and educate them on what each tool/item does. This will give you (and them!) a little peace of mind when they get behind the wheel.
5. How to Go to the Post Office
This may seem like a bygone skill, but we assure you it’s not! Every teen should know how to properly address and mail a letter or package — so go over this with your teen to make sure they do. You may be in for a surprise! But beyond addressing or mailing, teach them how to ship back an item:
- Let them order clothing, then ship back what doesn’t work
- Show them how to print the label and affix it to the box
- Take them to the post office or postal center to send it back
- Have them buy stamps while they’re there
They will need to know how to do this in college, and it will save you a phone call (or several) where they ask you how to do this on the spot.
We hope this list helps spark an idea or two for life skills you can teach your teen while you have their attention this summer! What else would you add to this list?
Comment below and tell us!