The end of the school year is in sight and teachers and students are starting to wind down. Teachers’ Facebook posts are beginning to feature margarita close ups, and your teenager may have developed a case of “I’m done caring”.
After what feels like a long school year, your teen is likely looking forward to several months of quality down time. Relaxing and recharging is absolutely part of the recipe for a successful summer. It’s important to let your teen’s body and mind rest and to soak up the sunshine. However, it’s also important to balance the need to rest with the need to use their time productively.
Summer is a great time to get a summer job, research colleges, study for SAT and ACT tests, and write their college essays. But it’s also the perfect opportunity for personal growth and trying new hobbies. Fitting all of that in around vacations and time hanging out with friends can be challenging. The key is to find a balance between work and play.
Here are some of my favorite tips on how to help your teen find a nice balance this summer.
Creating an Effective Schedule
1. Begin with the end in mind
Ask your teen to think about what it is that they want to get accomplished this summer. What goals do they want to reach? What do they want to feel good about when the summer is over? Making a tangible list and hanging it somewhere where they can see it every day can be helpful.
2. Start with the things you can’t control
Encourage your teen to use a calendar to block out their scheduled responsibilities (like work or volunteering), vacations, and other things that have pre-set dates and times. This allows them to see the time they have left and decide what to fill it with. Using either a paper calendar or an electronic calendar is ok. Have your teen experiment with which type of calendar works best for them.
3. Schedule in time to work on their summer goals.
If your teen is working on a large project (like college essays), it can be helpful to pre-schedule blocks of time on their calendar to work on it. That way, your teen won’t procrastinate until the end of the summer and fall behind on their project. If they know that an hour every Monday evening is set aside for their college essays, that becomes a routine and makes the project feel less overwhelming.
4. Create a visual plan for yourself.
Use a calendar or a daily/weekly “to-do” list that allows your teen to see their schedule for the day and see what is coming up later in the week. This makes their responsibilities clear and can help them remember tasks or events that are upcoming.
5. Add in accountability
Adding in accountability can help make sure your teen’s work gets completed. Have your teen set reminders or alarms on their phone to help them remember to get things done or show up for appointments. They can also ask a friend or a trusted adult to serve as an accountability buddy.
6. Set yourself up for success
Ask your teen the type of location and setting they work best in. For some, it’s at the dining room table. For others, it’s at a quiet desk in the library. Encourage your teen to choose the setting they work best in to complete their work. Mixing up the location can also keep things interesting and keep their brain engaged.
Adding in Some Fun and Personal Development
7. Create a summer bucket list
Have your teen create a list of activities they want to do, places they want to visit, and people they want to see this summer. Hang the list where they can see it and cross items off as they are achieved. Here is a list of 75 summer activities to feed your teen’s body, mind, and soul this summer.
8. Take time to work on yourself
Summer is a great time to add in some self-care practices. Yoga, meditation, walking, or other forms of exercise are all wonderful habits to add into your daily routine. Set aside some time to define your goals for the upcoming school year and manifest those goals by using daily affirmations.
9. Find an opportunity that you can’t have during the school year.
Get an internship, find a part-time job, study abroad, go on a volunteer trip, or start a summer project like creating a You Tube channel.
10. Look for college level programs
There are many colleges and universities across the country that offer summer programs for high school students. In these programs, high school students can take college-level courses, experience life on campus, meet other students, and often earn college credit.
11. Make connections
It’s not too early to teach your teen the art of social networking. Have your teen make a list of the people in their network and how they can be helpful. For instance, does your teen need a summer job? Do they need help figuring out which college to apply to? Friends of yours, family, parents of your teen’s friends, neighbors, coaches … they are all people who can help. Don’t be afraid to include casual acquaintances, too!
However you decide to use your summer, make sure that you take time to step back, evaluate how you’re doing in all areas of your life, and then take steps to start improving.