If you’re like me, as summer break nears for my kids, I start to ponder how I can get the most out of the summer and make sure they learn something new or don’t slip too much academically during the break. Given my passion for financial literacy, I try to find ways to have them learn useful financial life skills. Here are some ideas I’m considering for this summer:

  1. Learn about budgeting and spending wisely. Put the kids in charge of a meal (or two or three!). Have them plan the menu, develop the shopping list and then shop for the necessary items, while staying within a suggested budget. Show them how to analyze cost per unit to determine the best value. They can then prepare the meal (perhaps with your help). This teaches them multiple life skills: cooking, budgeting and wise spending. 
  2. Start a business. Running their own business has many benefits. It can be a lemonade or produce stand, pet sitting business or other service. There are so many skills they can learn from doing so, it should be a required rite of passage for all children. Talk to them about the 4 P’s: product (what to make), price (the right price for the product), placement (where to sell it) and promotion (how to get the word out). Have them pay you a portion of their profits to cover the cost of any supplies you provided.
  3. Interview adults about their jobs. Kids generally have very abstract ideas about what they’d like to do when they grow up, sometimes with a huge disconnect between the income potential and their desired lifestyle. At some point, they need to start learning about the various choices available to them, what type of education might be required, and how much they can expect to earn, etc.  Ask them to identify friends, family members or neighbors who they’d like to interview about their careers. You might need to help them figure out the jobs various people have, so they can make appropriate choices based on their interests. To further drive home this lesson, have them share what they learned with the rest of the family.

Instead of just telling your kids to go outside and play when they say, “I’m bored”, this summer, take advantage of the opportunity to teach them important life lessons by making them do something useful with their free time.