10 summer activities to help set your teen up for the future ... and they're fun too!
The summer should be about fun, but that doesn’t mean your teen can’t develop their skills at the same time. Without the pressure of managing school and homework, the holidays are an ideal time to try something different, that might prove to be a new interest or hobby and that also develops character and skills. Here’s our top suggestions of things they can do this summer that are both enjoyable and worthwhile.
1. Go for a day trip
Wherever you’re based, there's always somewhere that’s within easy reach to offer a day out experiencing a change of scene and a new experience. Whether it’s a trip to the coast, visiting a castle, or perhaps a new town they haven’t tried before, it’ll be easy to find something that appeals to them. A change of scene is great for the mind, forging new connections within the brain and it will give them something to talk about that’s outside their usual frame of reference.
Choosing somewhere to visit, arranging travel and planning their day flexes their skills in logistics, organization, time management and demonstrates curiosity. It’s something they can do with friends, family or even on their own. It also incorporates being active – particularly good if your teen isn’t keen on sports.
2. Listen to five or six TED talks to expand their knowledge
An absolute blessing if your child has a short attention span, most Ted Talks are no more than 15 minutes long, covering diverse subject ranges from science to business to global issues and feature some of the most eloquent, thought leaders of our times. It’s a great place for your child to develop their interests without a huge time commitment. Search by topic, speaker, most viewed or length (some are as short as 6 minutes!). There’s also a wide variety of teen speakers, so great role models for your teen to identify with thought leaders of their own age. Not only is this a great way for them to discover new ideas or find out more about their passions, it can demonstrate diversity and balance (hearing a range of speakers with different view-points on similar subjects) as well as honing their listening skills.
3. Pick a subject they are studying in the autumn term and read a book related to it
Whether it’s interviews for jobs or further education, interviewers are very interested on what your teen does outside the formal school curriculum to demonstrate their passion for subjects they say they’d like to study or roles they’d like to pursue. The book doesn’t have to be directly related to what they’d like to study or a job they’d like to get. For example, if we’re thinking about business studies, rather than choose a business area to research, why not select a business expert they admire and read a biography/ autobiography to find out how they became an expert and role model. This should combine being interesting for them (because it’s about someone they look up to) as well as giving them a different perspective that’s outside what most of their peers know.
4. Plan and prepare dinner
At some point, teens will leave home and need to fend for themselves. Two essential elements are being able to cook and manage money. The best time to learn this is while they’re still at home. Depending on their age and ability, get them to plan and prepare a balanced dinner for the family – from choosing a menu suitable for everyone, making sure there’s a good combination of fresh ingredients, going out to buy the food within budget, preparing it from scratch and serving up a meal with all components ready at the right time. This demonstrates a range of skills, from consideration for others (selecting a meal suitable for everyone), time management, planning, organization and budgeting. If planning dinner is too ambitious for younger teens, start small with a family treat - perhaps homemade snacks.
5.Try out a new sport
If your teen loves physical activity, that’s terrific, because being active is an essential part of mental and physical wellbeing. If they’re less keen, could it be they haven’t yet found a sport that suits them? Schools offer a great range of activities, but there are even more options within the community. Get them to check out what’s available in your local area to see if anything appeals. It could be ice-skating, surfing, rock climbing, mountaineering, fishing, martial arts, boxing, fencing or dancing.
6. Pick a favourite new release and head off to the cinema... alone!
Socialising with others is good for wellbeing, but it’s also good for them to strike a balance and be comfortable in their own company. If they’re used to being surrounded by people, going to the cinema on their own can be a winning combination of trying some time alone without the pressure of relying on themselves for entertainment. They’ll also get to choose exactly which film they’d like to see (within age restrictions, of course!). Not only can this kind of activity encourage self-reliance, but it’s also a good fallback in adult life if they’re looking for some downtime and an escape from over-thinking.
7. Help out a family member or neighbour
Doing things for others is proven to be a contributor to personal contentment as well as making others feel good, so it’s a terrific lifelong habit to develop. Why not start close to home? Whether it’s walking the dog, doing some cleaning, getting some shopping, or helping in the garden, there are lots of jobs that might just require them dedicating an hour here or there, that could make all the difference to someone else. It also helps them learn about the commitment and responsibility of looking after the home, a pet and oneself.
8. Make a new playlist of summer tunes
Music is one of the fastest ways to impact mood. Not all teens can play a musical instrument but any of them can put together a playlist of their favourite tracks. Get your teen to create a playlist that will remind them of summer 2023, then find a chance for them to share it with the family - whether that’s at a summer BBQ, a celebration event or some time you set aside for just the two of you. They’ll need to think about what to include and why they’ve included it. What and why is a typical formula for pretty much any interview question they’ll ever be asked, so practising this technique (even without knowing it!) is great practise for later life. Once the weather turns and the evenings are drawing in, this playlist could also act as an immediate pick-me-up.
9. Get a job
There’s no substitute for first-hand work experience and the holidays are a great chance to try and get a job. Whether that’s one morning a week or several days, all work experience is beneficial. Being in real life situations, communicating with other people, working to genuine deadlines and just turning up on time and showing reliability build valuable skillsets. Teenagers can lack awareness of the cost of living, so earning some cash (and understanding how long it takes to earn it!) can help them start to make connections between cost and spend. If getting a paid job is a struggle, they could try volunteering – it builds similar skillsets.
10. Create a pin board
Hopes and dreams can be a great motivator in getting teens to do something they’re not keen on now (short term) with the aim of achieving something they are very keen on in the future (long term). Whether or not you believe in the power of attraction, thinking about the things you want is the first step to getting them. So why not get them to create a pin board (either a physical one to pin in their room, a scrap book, or something virtual on their phone) with what they’d like to do in the future. It could be pictures of people they’d like to meet, bands they’d like to see, places to visit, activities they’d like to do or things they love.
Inspiring ideas to help teens build their skillsets and have fun:
If you’d like to know how your teen can build their character, develop skills, stand out from others and improve their chances of success at interviews, all while doing things they enjoy, read our suggestions in The Parents’ Guide to Standing out from the crowd. It includes sections on:
Self-development and increasing confidence;
Getting work experience (including virtual placements);
Benefits of research and how to take a different approach;
How different hobbies impact mental and physical health;
Which hobbies hone different transferrable skills
Recommendations for non-curricular online courses
We always love to hear from you, so do let us know if there are any subjects you’d like us to chat to you about. Stay safe and keep happy, Vanessa and Darius - firstname.lastname@example.org