Have your summer plans been upended? Because of this pandemic, many parents have recently expressed uncertainty about what to do with their kids all summer, while others are concerned about their teens' missing out on activities that strengthen college applications.
Although this summer vacation may not include volunteering or a typical summer job, it can still be a time for fostering self-discovery, growth, and independence. Check out these five ways that you and your teen can make the most of this summer.
1. Create a summer routine together.
Plenty of households have built wonderful routines for the remainder of the school year, with time set aside for study, exercise, and family activities. The end of the school year is a good time to revisit that daily schedule and decide how to spend all that new free time. Your teen will likely have pretty strong ideas about this (like sleeping in and hanging out with friends on Zoom), so work on building a new summer routine together. This exercise could be a great opportunity for your teen to practice negotiation and compromise as you develop a routine that satisfies everyone.
2. Dive deeper into a favorite subject.
Summer enrichment courses might be off the table this year, but that doesn't mean that intellectually curious teenagers have to sit idle. Maybe they've always been interested in the Renaissance or want to know more about a favorite animal. With a little guidance, your teen can find resources to scratch that itch for knowledge and even design a "curriculum" for the subject. The Library of Congress offers a wealth of digital materials to help you started. Remember, though, that teens will get more out of their exploration if it's voluntary--that is, if they choose the direction and depth of their independent study. After all, they probably still have summer reading lists and other mandatory academic activities already. So let them keep this casual!
3. Plan a virtual vacation.
If your teen has a taste for travel, let her choose a destination for a virtual family vacation. Museums around the world are offering virtual tours, as are national parks. You could even have a virtual weekend in Manhattan, complete with an evening at the opera! This is a great way to help you feel like you're getting out of the house, while also helping your teen practice planning and research skills.Encourage your teen to plan out a few days' itinerary, including a cultural experience, something "off the beaten path" that isn't a typical tourist activity, and a home-cooked meal that's representative of the destination.
4. Pick up a new hobby.
How much did you know how to cook when you moved out on your own? At least a few college friends ate nothing but Instant Ramen and frozen pizza--for four years. Now's the time to help your teen learn how to cook their favorite foods. Or if they'd prefer to do something outside, gardening might be an even better option. Help your teen focus on hobbies that will prepare them to live on their own.
5. Seek an unconventional summer job.
The current health crisis has caused us to rethink the way we all work, and traditional summer jobs may be tough to come by. Your teen might enjoy the challenge of a remote job. The remote work environment encourages self-discipline and can help your teen gain fluency in the technologies required to work from home. Alternatively, teens can spend time honing skills that are well suited to the remote work environment, such as writing, graphic design, or coding.
You may have noticed that all of these activities require your teen to know her interests, goals, and habits. That takes a healthy amount of self-awareness! If your teen isn't quite there yet, that's totally normal. That's why I've developed the LifeQuest program: to guide teens toward the self-knowledge they need to make smart decisions about their own future.
If you'd like to learn more, you're invited to schedule a free consultation. On our call, we'll talk about your family and your child's unique needs. If LifeQuest seems like a good fit, I'll let you know. If I think your family needs support in some other way, I'll point you in the right direction.
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I look forward to helping you and your family make the most of this summer!
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Emma B Perez