Are you wondering how to make this a fun break for your teens and tweens? Check out these ideas!
“Mom, I’m bored!”
Summer vacation is a weird time with tweens and teens.
On the one hand, we want them to relax, enjoy some downtime, and have some fun.
On the other, we don’t want them to sit in their rooms for days on ends binge watching Netflix and scrolling social media.
It’s tough to find the balance, so sometimes we have to prod them along in the right direction.
While this year has been better with a return to school, our teens are still struggling with social skills, academics, and mental health.
Additionally, the world still feels a little chaotic and COSTLY! That means we have to be strategic when it comes to travel, camps, college visits, etc. so you may need some fresh summer ideas for teens.
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.
Summer Ideas for Teens
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 the 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.
The Best Summer Idea for Teens? Part-time Jobs
Nothing staves off boredom like a little work!
You can’t walk down the street today without seeing a Help Wanted sign on every storefront, but age or time limitations can make it tough to find the right fit. The good news is the options are endless and employers are willing to be flexible.
With a little planning and discussion, your teen can find the perfect part-time job for them.
Part-time jobs for teens help them develop life skills, learn responsibility and accountability, and the value of a dollar. These are all critical elements of becoming a successful adult.
Plus, one of the biggest things that both college admissions officers and employers say is sorely lacking in our teenagers today is work ethic, so a part time job can help get your child into a right-fit college. It is a great addition to an admissions resume, as work shows a level of maturity that may not be reflected in a “typical” high-school application.
Traditional part-time jobs can include:
- Grocery store/retail clerks
- Retirement home assistant
- Camp counselor
- Life guard
- Movie theater usher/ticket-taker
- Social media support
Some states have age restrictions, however, but that doesn’t mean your kid can’t get to work. Nontraditional part-time jobs can include:
- Lawn care/handyman work
- Pet sitter/dog walker
- Tutor/Skills Coach
- Selling crafts or other homemade projects (think Etsy)
Summer Ideas for Teens Who Want to Give Back: Volunteer
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, building empathy, and developing an attitude of gratitude.
One great piece of advice we received from a college admissions counselor is that schools like to see you do more with one organization as opposed to volunteering a little at a lot of different places. If you can do this as a family, even better!
Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas of where your child may want to volunteer:
- Local animal shelter
- American Red Cross (The organization’s Red Cross Youth program helps teens organize blood drives, become educated and ready for disaster relief, or train younger children on in-home safety.)
- Meal programs (soup kitchens, shelters, food banks, Meals for Wheels, etc. are often looking for volunteers and while there are age requirements, many have specific jobs for younger teens and tweens)
- Hospitals/Senior Centers: These places are always looking for volunteers to act as runners, sit with patients, answer questions, etc.
- Habitat for Humanity Youth Program has a lot of different opportunities for kids of all ages.
- Best Buddies or the Special Olympics: If your teen or tween has the right personality to work with people with intellectual disabilities or developmental delays, both these organizations often have a need for volunteers.
- Sierra Club: If you have an environmentally-conscious kid, environmental groups are often looking for volunteers for clean-ups, events, and other opportunities.
- Local opportunities. Oftentimes cities and municipalities need volunteers to run certain events. VolunteerMatch is a great resource to find volunteer opportunities near you from a wide variety of sources, whether it is a national or local charity, veterans group, educational institution or business.
- Have your teen clean out the closets and host a garage sale. Donate the funds to a charity they support
Bonus: Encourage your teen to keep a journal of their volunteer activities and experiences.
If your teen/tween can’t drive or wants to do these hours from home, we like this article that discusses how teens can get service hours from home.
Screen-free Summer Ideas for Teens
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.
- Scavenger Hunts
- Minute To Win It Games
- Create Your Own Backyard Ninja Warrior Course
- Non-Traditional Puzzles:
- – 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)
- Create a Family or School Scrapbook
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! Instead, just pivot and try to redirect your big kids to using technology in a more productive way. 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 rearview mirror. BUT if you’ve got kids that do well with online learning, there are some really amazing online classes that can be a great summer idea for teens and tweens.
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.”
Masterclass Membership: We love this idea! If you’re not sure what your teen wants to do, get them a masterclass membership so they can pick and choose based on their interest and availability. There are so many options from cooking with Gordon Ramsey to basketball skills with Steph Curry to acting lessons with Natalie Portman.
Other Educational Tech Resources
- Learn How to Take Awesome Photos on Your iPhone
- 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 screen time though, consider adopting our teen technology rules for cell phone addiction.
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.
Summer Ideas for Staying Local: Bucket List
One fun thing to do is to make a list of fun activities your teen/tween can do (either with friends or as a family) that are within 30 minutes of driving and do 1-2 per week that you can check off on your bucket list.
This can include everything from visiting a museum or hiking trail to visiting a new pool or restaurant.
If that’s too complicated, just play tourist in a city close to you and re-visit some places you may not have gone to in awhile, such as the zoo, a movie theater, ice cream shop, etc.
Local summer bucket list ideas for teens can include:
- Baseball game (minor league games can be a ton of fun)
- Roller skating rink
- Drive-in movie theater
- Long bike ride to a picnic destination
- Local festivals
- Canoeing/kayaking on local lake
- Farmer’s markets
Summer Activities for Teens Should be Fun
Hopefully, these ideas will help you not only make this summer fun, 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.