Summer is right around the corner. This is not only a wonderful time of year, but can also be a bit stressful for parents since our kids won’t have school to occupy their time. We don’t want them to be bored, but we also want them to learn how to seize the opportunities that summer – and extra free time – brings. After all, as adults we reminisce about our own summer breaks when we were kids and often wish that these consecutive months off during this warm and sunny season were still mandatory time off!
Since many of us don’t have time to take long vacations (although we may want to), this means our kids will have to be more independent and self-motivated for these few months. This is good practice for them and also a great opportunity to explore some new activities, learning how to make the most of their free time in productive and fun ways.
Sometimes our teens need some inspiration to learn how to maximize their summer break. Here are some activities and ideas to help get their wheels turning.
There are volunteer opportunities in nearly any avenue your teen is interested. Maybe they are athletic and love to be outside. Help them find a camp counseling position or a lifeguarding opportunity that they could pursue. If they are more academic or enjoy helping others, perhaps they can volunteer at a hospital or at a local business where they can learn more about the trade. You’ll be hard-pressed to find people who wouldn’t love a vivacious youngster to help them for free!
2. Get a Job
To dovetail on the first point, perhaps there is an opportunity for you teen to find a job at one of these businesses. Making money is always a great motivator. And this will help your teen learn vital life skills such as being on time, having responsibilities and duties to fulfill every day, or how to manage a budget.
3. Take a college class
If there is a local community college in your area, explore the classes they offer in the summer. Perhaps there is an opportunity for your student to learn a subject that is of interest to them. While it’d be great for them to get ahead on subjects they will need to take, it could also be more fun and motivating for them to try something new or learn a skill they’ve been interested in trying, such as ceramics, acting, or a new language. Many colleges offer online courses, too, if there isn’t a physical campus nearby.
4. Job Shadow
Your child is at a critical age where exploring job opportunities is going to be important. It’s common – even as adults – to not understand the day-to-day requirements of certain jobs or career paths. If your teen is interested in a specific field, see if they can shadow someone to get a better idea of what their life might look like. Maybe they’ll love it. Maybe they’ll realize that their strengths are better suited somewhere else. Both experiences are invaluable.
5. Study for ACT/SAT
This point almost goes without saying. Getting ahead on studying for these tests is not only going to set them up for success, but also will help lighten the stress of studying for them later on.
6. Channel your inner entrepreneur
In today’s digital landscape, the opportunities for starting a company or a blog are endless. Young people and entrepreneurs alike are finding unique ways to seize business opportunities and even make money. It’s not only a creative process, but it will help your teen delve deeper into their current interests and learn the inner-workings of bringing a business to life. Help them identify something they already love to do, and encourage them to try something new!
7. Summer research
If your student is interested in academia, there may be actual research opportunities in the field they are interested in. Have them reach out to local college professors or PhD students to see if they could try their hand at helping with research and collecting data. This is not only a productive use of time, but it could also be something they use on their college resume and applications too!
8. Take on a leadership position
No matter where they decide to utilize their time, there is likely a way they can take on more responsibility or leadership roles if interested. If they are a camp counselor or volunteering somewhere, see if they would enjoy volunteering to lead a new project or endeavor. Having a greater sense of purpose and responsibility is great for self-confidence, for thinking critically and creatively, for working with others, as well as for learning new skills.
9. Study Abroad
If your child is adventurous, maybe give them the avenue to study abroad. There may be student exchange programs that would allow your student to study in the comfort of a family’s home. This doesn’t always have to be international. There are often study opportunities within the US too. They could take a college class on campus in a different state or join extended family members in a new part of the country.
Traveling to a new place, a different city or even abroad is a wonderful way to help your teens learn about new cultures and ways of living. Traveling is not only inspiring and exciting, but it’s also a critical piece in helping our students understand the expanse of our world and learn empathy and understanding. We can’t all afford to travel long distances. Thankfully, the same incredible experiences can occur in your backyard. Take a trip to a neighboring city or create an itinerary within your own city of places and things you’ve never done before.
Summer is a special time for our students. Spend some time with them now to start planning and preparing for what they’d like to be doing during these few months. That way, they will not only maximize the entire summer, but they’ll feel supported and prepared to go out and conquer. Just remember to encourage them to find something they’ll enjoy. It’s summer, after all, so whatever they pursue should be fun for them too!