Summer is going to look different for many teens this summer. They’ve already spent months at home struggling through online school, not being able to hang out with their friends, missing high school milestones and activities, and in many cases losing income because they weren’t able to work.
Parents have tried to make it easier for them. Any tech rules and limits have pretty much gone out the window. We’ve tried to engage them by binge watching Netflix with them or reviving family game night. There’s been walks and biking and even tik tok video making. But lets be honest, our teens were sick of us before this even started and at this point after juggling our own losses and attempts to work virtually, parents are feeling pretty burnt out too.
Unfortunately, for teens and tweens across the country, many of their typical summer activities like going to camp or being camp counselors, playing sports and even many of their service projects have been cancelled. Plus, most summer travel plans are delayed indefinitely. This includes college visits for many upper school high school students.
As parents of tweens and teens, you are looking at the coming months and probably feeling a little overwhelmed trying to figure out what your middle and high school aged kids are going to do with their time. You need fresh ideas, resources and more to help keep this summer from being a total wash.
Choose Your Own Adventure Summer
Here’s the deal. This is not a one size fits all approach. There are parents and teens who will want and appreciate a more structured plan for the summer. While there are others who like to fly by the seat of their pants a little bit more and will want to just pick and choose as needed. Or Maybe your family is somewhere in between. This isn’t about pressuring you to make the summer perfect, its just about giving you tools to make the best of things.
So, here is a general overview of ideas and approaches you can consider and then you can DIY your own summer plan that is the best fit for you.
I know some teens and tweens will think this is a bit cheesy, but you don’t have to go over the top with it. Families with older kids have had success with travel themed weeks, where each week they “visit” another region of the United States or a whole other country. This includes finding virtual tours of famous sites or museums, having kids read books on the destination, watching movies set there and preparing special meals from the country or region.
Maybe this would be a good way to test run possible destinations for your next trip with your tweens and/or teens once everyone feels comfortable traveling again.
Here are a few other themed week ideas that might fit your older kids:
- Olympics (since they’ve been delayed, have your own family games)
- Favorite Movies or TV series
- Sports or Hobbies
- Theater or Literature
- Music (Genres, Artists, etc)
- Decades (80’s, 90’s, etc)
Summer Activities for Teens (Screen Free)
If you and your tweens and/or tweens have played ALL. THE. BOARD.GAMES and done ALL. THE. PUZZLES and you’re just over ALL. THE. THINGS. you may need some new inspiration for keeping busy this summer. Here are a few new ideas you might not have done yet or even if you’ve done them before, you could put them on a rotation to keep things interesting.
Minute To Win It Games
Create Your Own Backyard Ninja Warrior Course
– Mystery Puzzles
– 3D Puzzles
Plant a Non Traditional Garden
Build a Grown-Up Lego Set (No, Legos aren’t just for little kids!)
Escape Room at Home:
– DIY Escape Room
– Escape Room Game
Start a Family Project
– Build Something
– Redecorate their rooms
Community Service Projects
Study the Stars
Create a Summer Music Playlist
Outdoor Movie Nights
Cook and Bake Stuff
Play Outside Games
Play Pool Games
Research Your Family Tree
Build a Model Plane (or car or whatever)
For other ideas check out: Easy Activities for Kids When Your Stuck Inside.
Crafts for Teens
You may have a teen who is an artist at heart or one that just likes to try new things and express their creativity through lots of mediums. Whatever their interests might be or even yet undiscovered, there are tons of more “grown-up” crafts and projects that teens can try with their free-time this summer.
Learn to Draw or Sketch
Paint Rocks and Leave Them For Others To Find
– check FB for groups near you where people post when they find the rocks!
Throwback Tie Dye
Learn to Paint Watercolors
– check Youtube for “how tos”
Write and Draw A Comic Book
Learn Photography Basics (p.s. tons of fun with an old school polaroid)
Make Your Own Tumbler
DIY Decorated Clothes Hangers
Make Your Own Phone Case
Learn Hand Lettering and Calligraphy
Create Monogram Wall Art
Using Technology For Educational Fun
First, if you’re having guilt about all the screens, just stop! Things are hard enough right now and you don’t need to add that to all the worries you are carrying on your shoulders. Screens and technology in general can be used for good believe it or not. And there are tons of fun ways you can combine using technology to keep your teens and tweens occupied with actually enriching their lives with educational content too.
Okay, straight up not even going to lie here, this is not for all teens or parents. Many middle and high school students want to race into summer and leave anything that sounds remotely like academics in the rear view mirror. BUT if you’ve got kids that do well with online learning, there are some really amazing online classes.
You will find some of the best offerings available for teens when it comes to online classes at Outschool. There are fun classes, life-skill classes, tons of coding classes and then some more traditional subject matter classes if your teens want to get ahead this summer. Just to give you a few examples of their non-traditional offerings:
How To Make A Video Game (Intro to Game Design): In this course, students will learn how to make their first video game. They will finish the class with their very own playable game.
What The Wealthy Teach Their Children & Now You Can Too!
Because They Are Interested In Money! This introductory class walks children and parents through the Financial Foundation Series of classes that most parents say, “Boy I Wish I Had Learned That When I Was Young.”
Other Educational Tech Resources
Take Virtual Field Trips
Listen to Audio Books
Discover a New Podcast
Explore Some Ted Talks for Teens
Host a Virtual Book Club
Make Stop Motion Movies
Write, Record and Edit A Film
Learn to Code or Build Your Own App
Prep for the ACT/SAT
If you’re still struggling with the screen time though, consider adopting our teen technology rules.
Build Life Skills
Summer doesn’t have to be all about fun, you can throw some life learning in there too. In the activities, we already talked about cooking with your teens and working on some family projects. But also, if you’re tweens/teens haven’t been pulling their weight when it comes to contributing to household responsibilities, now is the perfect time to recruit them. And beyond chores, we hear all the time these days how kids are lacking basic life skills, so take this opportunity to help them learn.
Hopefully, these ideas will help you not only make this summer fun despite the circumstances, but also productive for your teenagers. But remember, our kids lives weren’t designed to always be about structure and non-stop entertainment. Not only is it okay for teens to be bored this summer, but it’s good for them.
The over-scheduled lives that have become our norm have been stressing our tweens and teens out for awhile now, so let them enjoy the gift of of time and freedom that we’ve been temporarily given. You might just be surprised to see how they thrive when we give them permission to just do nothing and just be kids for a little longer.
Raising teens and tweens can be a challenging time of parenting, here are a few more resources to help make the most of your summer months.