How to help your kids become more independent this summer

June 12, 2024 • 5 min
How to help your kids become more independent this summer

The craziest thing happened last year. This very normal thing I do with my kids every summer went VIRAL. A fellow-mama-on-IG reposted my reel and included her own spin on it. The next thing I knew, Good Morning America, The DailyMail, and ABCNews were calling! Crazy, right?! We all want to help our kids become more independent, so I thought it’d be awesome to deep dive into my viral strategy here.

What is How to Be a Person Camp?

Born out of the boredom of the pandemic and early lockdown, and my own frustration with how they were brushing their teeth, (a quick swipe with a dry toothbrush does not a toothbrushing session make). I decided to use the time to help my kids become a little more independent. My dad has always said, “You are raising them to be adults, not children,” and that was the foundation of this idea. There are skills they need to know by the time they move out of our home. And even the best-meaning parents can forget some of these, sometimes. So I wrote them down! And put a “camp” spin on them since we couldn’t attend actual camps that summer. Every day, we tackled a few — and it wasn’t just “mom showing kids how to do stuff,” we did an actual deep dive into each thing. We watched YouTube videos from dentists about HOW to properly brush your teeth. We learned about what social security numbers are and why we need to memorize them. We practiced cracking eggs on the side of a bowl until we got the feel for it (and then made a LOT of scrambled eggs).

Can someone “be a person” without knowing how to do these things? Of course. These things are just great life skills for “people” to have.

How did your kids feel about How to Be a Person Camp?

I wasn’t sure how they’d feel at first. I wondered if they might roll their eyes at me. But, in fact, they did not! They jumped at the idea! Every day, they asked me when we were going to do more HTBAPC! I was surprised by this because they do not get this excited when asked to do people things like take out the trash. To this day, they still ask if we can learn things from the list (and our list keeps growing and evolving as they get older).

What’s actually on “The List” for How to Be a Person Camp?

Children of different ages will be ready to learn different skills. Use your own judgment and what you know about your child’s motor skills, responsibility level, and abilities to make your list for them (I just used a poster board and a sharpie…) I’ve broken these down into three groups: little kids, middle kids, and big kids. There are a zillion I haven’t listed here, so definitely leave me a comment with ideas you have and I’ll add them! Oh and also: this is important— big kids need to master middle and little kid skills too. And so on. So make sure you include all the “easier” ones for the bigger kids! I know you guys know how to do these tasks already, so you’re perfectly capable of teaching them, but I’ve found a couple YouTube videos and other resources for a few tasks that make great deep dives, so I’ll link them here for you also.

Little Kids

Middle Kids

Big Kids

And guess what… I made you a print out!! Feel free to print this out and add as you go. Happy people-skill teaching! Comment with skills we’re missing here!



Consider a few extra resources:

About the Author:

Emily Ley

Emily Ley is the founder of Simplified®, a bestselling brand of planners and organizational tools for busy women found online and in Target, Walmart, Office Depot and Staples. She has spent nearly thirteen years empowering, inspiring, and equipping women in the areas of organization, planning, and simplicity. She is the host of The Simplified Podcast and author of national bestselling books Grace, Not Perfection; A Simplified Life; When Less Becomes More; and Growing Boldly. Her newest book, Near in The Night, is a collection of reflections on finding God’s peace and rest. Emily has been featured in Forbes, Glamour, and Good Housekeeping and was recently recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by Studer Community Institute. She also serves on the board of advisors for the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. Now, as an author, podcaster, entrepreneur, wife, and mother, Emily lives in Pensacola, Florida, with her husband, Bryan, and their son Brady, and twins, Tyler and Caroline. Learn more at

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