I remember the days of having a pouting, sighing teen around the house in the summer complaining about having nothing to do. It worked my nerves to see her glued to the couch watching MTV “Junk” and other mindless shows. Much of the summer she’d spend with my mom or her dad (she’s my niece but we took custody of her when she was 14), but when she was home I had to be sure to find things to occupy her time and make it a productive summer.
Here are a few tips or ideas I think would be great for your pre-teen or teen to do over the upcoming summer break.
A summer business – What a blast it can be to help your pre-teen/teen start and develop a summer business. I would suggest starting to work on this project now. Starting a summer business can help your child develop his her computer skills, business knowledge, math skills and overall communication skills. It is also a wonderful way to help them be disciplined and physically active over the summer. Consider traditional kid businesses such as babysitting, lawn care/yard cleaning, pet walking/sitting, car washing and newspaper routes. But be sure to explore less conventional ideas and/or ideas that utilize your child’s special talent such as – bicycle repair, teaching computer skills to the elderly, tutoring younger children, crafts such as woodwork, summer cheerleading or basketball camps for small kids or independent sells. The camps or computer classes might require a little of your time to help plan, etc., but think how rewarding this time could be for both you and your child.
Creative learning/Career Exploration – The summer is a great time for your child to be introduced to a craft or hobby such as knitting, scrapbooking, sewing, carpentry, fishing or quilting. It’s also a good time to explore careers and even learn a new skill. If your daughter really enjoys cosmetology, maybe she can volunteer at the local salon answering phones or sweeping up hair. They might even offer her free services in exchange for her work. Other creative learning possibilities might be helping out in a vet’s office or boarding kennel, or working as a photography assistant (summers can be very busy with weddings). If possible, maybe your child can take an entire month to explore careers, spending a week or so in different fields.
Sports Activities– Summer is also a wonderful time to get your child involved in activities such as skating, golfing, tennis, scuba diving, surfing and/or bowling. Many communities offer summer sports leagues. Check with your cities recreation department to find out what might be available. Centers such as the YFCA/YMCA also provide many summer fun opportunities such as summer camps.
Volunteerism – Nursing homes, hospitals, missions, day care centers, summer camps all welcome pre-teens/teens to either be employed or volunteer in their facilities. You can also encourage your child to visit an elderly or shut-in relative or neighbor a couple of days a week. They can help that person around the home, i.e., preparing meals, grocery shopping, light housekeeping or simply spend quality time together playing games, solving a puzzle or just talking. From this your child could write a short biography for that person and present it to them at the end of the summer, or they might also want to make a video and use their media skills to develop something really cool. How many of us now have a deceased grandmother/grandfather who we would have loved to have spent that time with? The summer is a great time for your child to bond/build relationships with those from older generations.
Household Projects – Does your child want to take a summer trip to an amusement park or camp? Well, how about them earning that trip? Again, this will teach them responsibility, while giving them something else worthwhile to do over the summer. Think about those things you’ve been meaning to get to – cleaning/organizing the garage, cleaning/organizing the basement, cleaning out closets (they can have a garage sale and earn some spending money for the summer trip), building a a flower or vegetable garden, organizing the pantry. These can be some pretty big projects and a wonderful team effort for siblings.
Other cool and fun ideas – Starting a band/singing group (they can perform at day cares, for youth groups, nursing homes or even in your backyard), make their own tv show (they really only need a video camera), build a family web site (this can be done with Microsoft Word or even Microsoft Works), putting together a photo album/scrapbook for all of the family photos, serving as Assistant Coordinator for a wedding or family reunion, writing a book or learning to play an instrument.
Sit down with your child and go over this article to see what they might be interested in doing this summer. Don’t wait until school is out to begin planning. Talk with other parents about their plans for the summer. Do you all have some special skill or talent you could share with the children? Perhaps you can take turns putting on summer clinics and thus create your own summer camp. Some of the topics might be – a cooking class such as making homemade ice cream or homemade candy, makeover day for girls, tie dyeing (maybe do hats and t-shirts), or exploring nature. If you share the responsibility, everyone can work together to ensure that the kids have a fun and memorable summer.