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  • Writer's pictureThe Parents' Guide to

7 ways your teen can be in a fantastic place to start Year 13 in September

Heading into year 13 is a crucial time in your teen's academic journey, so it makes sense that they take advantage of the time off school to get in the best possible position before entering their final year of sixth form. So let's take a look at some of the options available, exploring academic, vocational, and personal development opportunities, as well as travel and leisure activities - so they can decide which ones would be most useful to them. Whatever their decision, all of our top 7 can enrich their lives, help them grow as individuals and stand them in good stead for the year ahead.

A teenage girl smiling at camera standing in front of some wall art

1. Work experience

One of the most effective ways for teenagers to spend their summer holidays is to gain work experience. This can be in the form of internships, apprenticeships, or part-time jobs. It not only provides them with valuable skills and knowledge that can help them in their future careers but also helps them to build a network of contacts and references.

There are many opportunities available for teenagers to gain work experience, from local businesses to large corporations. Some sectors that offer good work experience opportunities include finance, law, media, and engineering. Additionally, universities and research institutions often offer internships for students interested in science and technology.

If they haven't been able to get a role that's advertised, a great way to create opportunities is to email local businesses requesting shadowing opportunities or offering their services for free. This direct, and more personal approach means there's less likely to be competition from rivals and businesses might appreciate the initiative shown in making direct contact.

2. Volunteer work

Giving back has been proven to improve mental health, and that amazing benefit aside, volunteering is another great way for teenagers to gain experience in real life situations. This could be close to home or abroad, and may involve a wide range of activities, such as working with animals, fundraising or supporting disadvantaged communities. Volunteering not only helps teenagers to develop new skills and experience, but it also allows them to see first-hand that many people do not have the advantages they have, and this can deepen their empathy as well as making them more appreciate of things they might otherwise take for granted.

There are many organisations that offer volunteering opportunities for teenagers, such as the National Citizen Service (NCS), the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and the British Red Cross. Additionally, many charities and non-profit organisations are always in need of volunteers, so teenagers can find a cause that they are passionate about and make a real difference in people's lives.

Once again, approaching local organisations can be effective, especially if they are small and in need of additional help. Be creative about what to offer - many would value some of the computer and design skills many teenagers possess, such as creating marketing materials, flyers, writing articles, pushing their social media presence or helping with databases.

3. Summer courses and workshops

Whether they're struggling with coursework or looking for a new challenge, there are plenty of summer courses and workshops available. These can help them to develop their skills and knowledge in specific areas, such as science, maths, languages, and the arts; or can help them catch up on work they found difficult last year.

Many universities and colleges offer summer courses and workshops for high school students, such as the Oxford Summer School and the Cambridge Immerse programme. Additionally, there are many private organisations that offer specialised summer courses, such as language schools and music academies. There are online courses available too - which means they won't have to travel.

Whether it's reinforcing lessons they've already covered or boosting their knowledge in new areas, it should make classroom work easier in the year ahead.

Glasgow city, view on a hilltop

4. Travel and cultural experiences

Travelling during the summer holidays is an excellent way for teenagers to broaden their horizons and experience new cultures. It can help them to develop their independence, confidence, and social skills, as well as give them a break from their studies and routine.

There are many destinations that are ideal for teenagers, from European cities to Asian countries. Additionally, there are many cultural experiences that they can take part in, such as language immersion programmes, volunteering abroad, and homestays with local families.

But if your budget doesn't extend to overseas trips, exploring new places in the UK can still be helpful in expanding their vision beyond the town where they live - and it can even be done by a series of day trips! Why not set them a challenge? Can they explore four major UK cities they haven't visited before during the summer break? Don't forget to check National Rail for student (and adult) discounted fares.

5. University and course research

The summer between Year 12 and Year 13 is the perfect time to start thinking seriously about what happens after sixth form. Do they want to go to university, join an apprenticeship scheme or take professional qualifications? What type of courses would they like to study - and how long for?

Once they have an idea of the path they'd like to follow, the holidays allow time to do additional research and further reading around those areas, perhaps even speaking to people that have followed a similar path to the one they'd like to take. This means that when it comes to application time, they'll be able to talk about their own unique experience that extends beyond what they've achieved through the school curriculum. This will help them stand out from others and demonstrate they have taken pro-active steps around furthering their knowledge in areas they say they are interested in learning more about.

Teenage girl studying for exams in bedroom

6. Revision

Looking back may seem boring when they are focused on their future dreams, but it's worthwhile spending some of the holidays going over their year 12 content - and making sure it's filed in a neat and tidy order, both online and in hardcopy!

It can help them identify the topics they find most intriguing, leading to further exploration through wider reading, as well as helping them get up-to-speed on areas they may have found tricky, providing a firmer foundation for year 13 studies. Of course, it will also help them prepare for upcoming mock exams in December/January.

There are plenty of free apps and online resources available. Getting familiar with the ones they like over the summer will save them valuable study time when they're revising for their finals, as they will already know which ones suit them best.

7.Personal development

Finally, the summer holidays are an excellent time for teenagers to focus on their personal development. This can involve activities that help them build their confidence, self-esteem, and resilience, such as sports, music, or drama.

Sports clubs and teams offer excellent opportunities for teenagers to develop their physical fitness and team-working skills, while music and drama groups can help them to develop their creativity and self-expression. If being part of large groups doesn't sit comfortably with them, try something smaller and quieter, such as mindfulness and meditation, cooking lessons, or walking groups.

There are many personal development courses and workshops available, clubs to join or online forums providing recommendations of things to do. All will help your teen develop various skills and, better still, they could potentially inspire lifelong interests that last well beyond their studies into adulthood.

Find out more:

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.


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 -


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