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Summer Fun: Life skills for kids!

Summer is often a time when our kids want to sink into the couch and play on their screens. Nothing wrong with a little downtime; we all need it. But now is also a good time to focus on their strengths and interests to help them with any obstacles they struggle with from their ADHD or Anxiety. Maybe you can develop some life skills for them to work on. Can they get up and out on time by themselves, or do they need some help with time management? Perhaps they struggle with perfectionism or social anxiety. There's stuff we can do to help with that in the summer before they need to head back to a stressful school year.

If you want to help with executive functioning, try using a grocery list and money. Give your child a list of groceries and some cash--I know, who has cash these days?! Send them (or take them) to the store and have them find and buy what they need. If they can budget and spend less, then maybe entice them with the leftover cash (assuming it's small!) as a reward. For older kids, you can even have them choose a menu, write the ingredients, do the shopping, And have them help you cook. Win-Win!


Take advantage of the beautiful weather and organize a friendly sports competition. This not only allows your child to have fun but also provides a fantastic platform to practice executive functioning skills. To make the tournament a success, your child will need to dedicate time each day to work on organizing the event. They'll learn to block distractions, like watching TV or using their phone, while staying focused on the task at hand. They'll exercise their working memory when setting up teams and managing tournament logistics. Unexpected changes in the plan will also provide an opportunity for cognitive flexibility and adaptability.


Bonus: Sports and physical activities have been linked to improved executive functioning skills!

                                           Field Trip Fridays 

Summer is the perfect time for local outings to pools, nature preserves, museums, and amusement parks. Instead of taking charge of the planning yourself, empower your child to organize a field trip. Invite them to develop a "proposal" for desired outings, including justifications, distance to the location, transportation plans, and estimated costs. This exercise strengthens their inhibition, planning, organizing, and prioritizing abilities as they narrow down the options and propose the best field trip idea.

Bonus: They'll also exercise working memory and cognitive flexibility when considering transportation options and ticket pricing. Plus, they'll get real-world math practice by adding up trip expenses.

Plant a Garden

Evening walks can provide inspiration for creating an at-home garden. Collaborate with your child to set garden goals and determine the available space and resources. Together, research plants suitable for your climate and sunlight conditions. Regular watering and care will help the garden flourish – a perfect opportunity to practice inhibition and working memory. Engage with gardening communities on social media to connect with neighbors who share a passion for gardening, providing valuable opportunities for meeting and socializing.

  • Grow a Garden: Start a small garden in your backyard or use pots for an indoor garden. Teach your kids about planting, watering, and the growth cycle of plants.

  • DIY Composting: Create a compost bin together and learn about recycling organic waste and how it helps the environment.

Plan a Trip

 Summer offers a chance for your child to slow down and practice focusing on one task at a time, a valuable skill in our fast-paced world. Encourage them to engage in a long-term project throughout the summer, promoting focused attention and inhibiting distractions from devices and other diversions. Start with small focus goals and gradually build upon them. Planning a trip is a great way to learn to focus on different activities. There is research to be done on activities, coordinating with family members, looking up places to stay, and maybe even Yelping for some good restaurants.

By providing opportunities for your child to practice these skills in a friendly and enjoyable manner, you're supporting their executive functioning development while creating lasting memories. Enjoy the summer, and have fun building those essential skills!

Get Cooking

  • Cooking Challenges: Host weekly cooking challenges where each family member gets to pick a theme or a main ingredient. Kids can learn to plan meals, follow recipes, and understand nutritional values.

  • Farm-to-Table Adventure: Visit a local farm or farmers' market, and let your kids choose fresh produce. Then, cook a meal together using those ingredients.

Manage $

  • Mini Business Projects: Help your kids set up a small business, like a lemonade stand, craft sale, or pet sitting service. They can learn budgeting, pricing, marketing, and customer service.

  • Money Management Games: Play games like "The Game of Life" or online simulations that teach budgeting, saving, and investing in a fun, interactive way.

DIY and Handyman Skills

  • Build a Birdhouse: Get a simple birdhouse kit or use recycled materials to build one from scratch. Kids can learn basic woodworking and tool safety.

  • Fix-It Projects: Involve your kids in small home repair projects, like fixing a leaky faucet, painting a room, or assembling furniture.

Time Management and Planning

  • Weekly Planner Creation: Help your kids create their own weekly planners. They can decorate them and plan out their week, learning to prioritize tasks and manage time.

  • Goal Setting Workshops: Set personal or family goals for the summer. Break them down into smaller steps and track progress together.

Get Outdoors

  • Camping Adventures: Plan a backyard camping trip where you can teach basic survival skills like setting up a tent, building a campfire, and outdoor cooking.

  • Scavenger Hunts: Create scavenger hunts that teach navigation, plant identification, and other nature-related skills.

First Aid and Safety

  • First Aid Training: Use online resources or community classes to teach basic first aid skills. Make it interactive with practice scenarios and role-playing.

  • Safety Drills: Practice emergency situations like fire drills or what to do if someone is choking. Make it a game to see how quickly and effectively they can respond.

Get Creative

  • Upcycling Projects: Use old clothes, bottles, or other materials to create new items. This teaches creativity and sustainability.

  • Photography Projects: Give them a camera or a smartphone and set themes for weekly photography projects. Teach them about composition, lighting, and storytelling through images.

My family and many clients now love doing this and do a "Summer Skills Challenge." Each week, you draw a skill from a jar and focus on learning it together. One week was all about cooking, and we ended up having a "Family Cook-Off" where each person cooked a dish, and we all voted on the best one. It was a blast, and we all learned a lot about meal planning and cooking techniques. Even better from my point of view, was that I didn't have to cook every night!! By integrating these skills into fun activities, you're more likely to keep your kids engaged and excited about learning. Plus, you'll create wonderful memories together. Enjoy your summer!


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