As a mom to three high schoolers, sometimes I struggle with how to balance summer.
I want them to have some fun and downtime because I know they work hard during the school year. Between a tough academic course load, athletics, activities, volunteer hours, and the other stresses high school students face today, I believe they deserve a chance to just breathe and feel like a kid again.
But I also want them to work a part-time job to pay for all those Boba teas and Taco Bell runs they like to have with their friends. Employment by a person other than their parent is a great way for teens to learn responsibility and leadership skills.
I also want them to use this time to do a few things that improve their overall well-being, such as learning a new skill, participating in the community in some way, or preparing for life after high school.
How to develop a summer plan that works for your teen
Managing the summer for tweens and teens can be tough. They are old enough to (mostly) take care of themselves, but if left to their own “devices,” they could spend days holed up in their bedrooms and basements, scrolling on their phones or playing video games.
I do believe there is a way to strike a balance. There can be a way to help our teens have a fun, relaxing, and productive summer. It just takes sitting down with your teen and planning it out.
How to talk to your teen about their summer
When discussing summer plans with your big kids, include their wants and needs upfront. Adolescents want some control over their time, so it’s essential to consider their thoughts. It’s okay to insist that your teens do something this summer, but value their input and work it out together.
When we sit down to talk to our teens about summer break, we tell them that they need to break it into three buckets: Work, Play, and Grow.
Work: This is simple for teens, especially those who can drive. There are so many flexible job opportunities that fit nearly any teen’s schedule. Don’t get hung up on the type of job as much as what your teen is learning from the experience—meaning every job offers employees the opportunity to develop important life skills.
This can be a bit more challenging for tweens and young teens, but get creative. There are many small jobs that younger adolescents can do to earn some cash and learn responsibility.
Play: Everyone needs some time to rest and recharge. Make sure your teen has some scheduled downtime in the summer. This could be weekends, a trip, some mini-vacations, or even creating a local summer bucket list you can do together. At the end of the day, give your kids the time to rest and veg out however that looks to them.
Grow: Summer is a great time to do things you don’t have time for during the school year, but that interests or helps you develop into a productive member of society. Whether they want to explore new passions, develop new skills, or gain exposure to new ideas and perspectives, summer enrichment activities can offer a wealth of opportunities for growth and learning.
Five Ideas for Summer Growth Activities that Won’t Make Your Teens Rolls Their Eyes
When I first started talking to our kids about growth activities during summer break, they groaned and rolled their eyes. I think they envisioned spending their summer break chained to a desk at a computer or getting up at the crack of dawn to go to a class.
But after they got the complaining out of their system and saw the different opportunities they could pursue, they were excited.
If you’re unsure where to start, here are five ideas to help your teens and tweens make the most of their summer while having fun.
Experience collegiate life through a university summer camp
I think every parent wonders if their teen is prepared to leave home for college or another opportunity. Attending a university summer camp can be an excellent way for teens to get a taste of life on a college campus, develop a new skill set, and make new friendships.
My teens loved everything about their experience. They lived in dorms, ate at dining halls, and learned something new. Their excitement for college soared while also boosting their high school resumes.
One example of these is the iD Tech summer camps available at universities across the country which offer students the opportunity to explore different fields of study, from coding and game design to artificial intelligence and robotics. Teens get hands-on with the latest technology (which we know they love), build projects to showcase in their college applications, and take their first steps toward a successful future.
Note: For a limited time, use code SUMMERBOOST at iDTech.com to save $125 on summer camps for teens at 75+ university locations*.
Volunteer in local communities
Giving back to your community or an organization close to your heart is a great way to keep your tweens/teens busy during the summer, help them develop compassion and empathy, and ensure they understand they are a part of something larger than themselves.
It’s also a great time to bank some service hours that can be challenging to fit in during the school year. One great piece of advice we received from a college admissions counselor is that schools like to see you do more with one organization instead of volunteering a little at many different places. If you can do it together as a family, even better!
A few ideas include fundraising for local charities, volunteering at food banks or animal shelters, picking up litter or assisting in environmental projects, spending time with seniors, tutoring/mentoring younger kids, or even starting a service project of their own.
Get certified by top universities and tech companies
In today’s competitive job market, having a certificate from an accredited institution can set teens apart from their peers and make them more attractive to college admission officers. With online academies powered by prestigious institutions, teens can get certified by some of the world’s leading universities and tech companies, such as Kellogg, NYU, 1500 Sound Academy, and NVIDIA. These programs are designed to help students develop their skills, knowledge, and confidence while working on real-life projects. By gaining certifications in areas they are passionate about, teens can boost their resumes, stand out from their peers, and increase their chances of being accepted into the college of their choice.
We’ve partnered with iD Tech to offer an exclusive, limited-time discount for Parenting Teens and Tweens readers. Visit idtech.com and use code SUMMERBOOST for $125 off Online Academies*.
Take (passion) classes
No, we don’t mean sitting at a desk all day, but the summer is a great time to learn something fun you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. That might mean cooking classes, learning how to play the guitar, participating in a sport, getting certified in something like SCUBA diving or rock climbing, taking photography 101 at a community college, or joining a geocaching group.
Another fun opportunity that many teens are now getting involved with is eSports. Parents can turn their teens’ passions for video games into essential skills for lucrative careers with exciting courses in Minecraft, Roblox, Unity, Unreal Engine, Oculus, esports, and more.
Usually, if your kid has an interest, there’s a group for it, and many adults love to pass along their knowledge to the next generation. Who knows? Your teen might find the passion that gets them through stressful times or changes their career goals.
Shadow different careers
As teens head towards high school graduation, many students have no idea what they might want to pursue as a career, or they might think they know for sure but have no real-life information on it.
Summer is a great time to see if your high schooler can shadow a professional for a day or two to see what the industry is all about—and if it might be something they want to pursue.
Whether it’s a professional such as a therapist or accountant, a trade such as a plumber or a cabinet making, an entrepreneur such as a small-business owner or restaurateur, or a creative such as a graphic designer or blogger, shadowing can help assess the good and the bad of certain career tracks. This can also help you with discussions about their future, such as college planning and career goals.
With some planning, you can create a summer that your teen–and you–love
Sometimes the cost can prohibit your family from pursuing these types of activities. We like these ideas on how to fund your teen’s summer activities.
The best part about summer is it’s YOUR time. You can work with your child to create a summer plan that fits their unique needs.
*Ends June 30, 2023, at 11:59pm PT. $125 off applies to in-person programs and online academies. $100 off applies to virtual camps. $20 off applies to private lessons. Payment plans do not apply to private lessons. Promo code can be used once per child per program. Promo codes can not be applied to previous purchases.
Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post from idTech written by a member of the PTT editorial team.
Are you in the thick of raising your tweens and teens? You may like this book by Whitney Fleming, the co-owner of Parenting Teens & Tweens: Loving Hard When They’re Hard to Love: Essays about Raising Teens in Today’s Complex, Chaotic World.
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