This post: 12 Ways to Help Your Teen Have a Productive Summer (and Still Have Fun) Post updated: May 2023
Co-Written by: Morgan Hill & Nancy Reynolds
School is out and boy, do my kids need the break! After months of sticking to a rigid (and exhausting) schedule, they’re ready for lazy days in the sun, sleeping in and chilling out with friends.
But you and I both know it won’t take long for them to start complaining that they’re bored.
“There’s nothing to do…”
“I’m soooo bored and my friends can’t hang out.”
“I’m tired of just hanging out around the house, I can’t think of anything to do.”
If you’re anything like me, you want your kids to have a fun and memorable summer and enjoy much-needed time doing… well, nothing. But you also want them to do something productive with their time rather than hanging out around the house all day, every day playing video games, watching television, or complaining about how bored they are.
Whether your teen does just one of these things or dives into a few, here are a few ways to help your teen have a productive summer and still have plenty of fun!
12 Ways to Help Your Teen Have a Productive Summer and Still Have Fun
1. Get a Part-Time Job
Most middle and high schoolers are perfectly capable of working a part-time job over the summer so they can bring in a few extra bucks to pay for their summertime fun. Although some teens might not love the idea initially, what they do love is getting their paycheck! After all, it’s a pretty cool feeling when you start bringing in your own money. Plus, it’s a great way for them to build confidence, dip their toes in the working world and get accustomed to having a “boss.” A few traditional ideas include:
- Store Clerk/Cashier/Bagger
- Food Service
- Camp Counselor
- Golf Caddy
- Swim Instructor
- Landscape/Lawn Mowing
- Pet Sitter
- Dog Walker
- Movie Theater Attendant
Check out this post! 25 Great Summer Jobs for Teens
Make sure your teen knows the ins and outs of how to make a great impression during the interview! Check out this post! 8 Tips for Teens to Ace an Interview
2. Snag an Internship
Encourage your teen to level up their hobby or interest into a productive summer activity that not only looks fabulous on college applications, it’s also a great way to build connections that could lead to a future job. Although a lot of internship opportunities are posted at the beginning of the year, it’s never too late to snag an internship providing you know where to look. Have your teen check in with their high school counselor and check out websites like Indeed.com and Simply Hired that frequently have a listing of internships.
Just a heads up: Some internships are paid while others are not. Tell your teen not to be discouraged if they land an unpaid internship – chances are, the experience they’ll gain will be even more valuable than the paycheck!
3. Take a Summer School Class
I know… the thought of going to school during the summer is something most teens dread. Let’s face it, summer school is a total drag. But if your teen is struggling in a particular subject, taking a class over the summer can alleviate a ton of stress when they go back to school. After all, wouldn’t it feel great to finally land an “A” in Math or English? Seriously, as much as they might hate the idea, they’ll love not having to struggle in the fall!
4. Tutor Younger Kids
Why not encourage your teen to start a part-time neighborhood tutoring service? If your teen has a grasp on a particular subject, chances are there are plenty of parents who would love to have your teen work with their kid(s) to heighten their skills. Not only is it a relatively low-stress job, but they can also name their own hours and strengthen community ties. And, tutoring typically commands a pretty good hourly wage!
5. Learn Life Skills
During the school year, it’s hard to carve out time to teach your kids important life skills, but now that summer is here, it’s the perfect time to prepare your teenager for real life and independence.
Don’t make it a chore, just toss in a few important “here and there” lessons and tips throughout the summer. Here are a few ideas:
- Cleaning Know-How Tips (Vacuuming, Dusting, Sweeping, etc.)
- Change a Tire
- Do Laundry
- Investing Basics
- Write a Check
6. Learn How to Drive
If your teen is at the age when they’re legally allowed to drive, spend time over the summer (when life is far more relaxed and stress is low) to teach them the basics of driving. You can also sign them up for a driver’s education class and/or a defensive driving class to round out their skills. Even if your new driver knows a lot of the basics, summer is a great time to teach them new skills like highway driving (when the roads aren’t as busy), nighttime driving, and any other driving skills they need to work on.
Whether your teen volunteers at an animal shelter, provides meals for others in need or gives back in another way that piques their interest, volunteering is a great way to get involved with the community and meet new friends, and it can often be done on their choice of hours or days. Match their hobbies or skills to a group or organization and they’ll have plenty of time to live it up after their shift. Bonus: It’ll look good on college applications, too! Here are a few ideas:
- Visit the Elderly at a Senior Citizen’s Center
- Help an Elderly Neighbor with Dog Walking, Yard Work or Grocery Shopping
- Volunteer at an Animal Shelter or the Humane Society
- Help Out at Local Food Bank
- Help Out the Habitat for Humanity Youth Program
- Volunteer at Local Library
- Check out the Sierra Club Student Coalition (for Teens Who are Passionate About the Environment)
- Volunteer for the Special Olympics
- Volunteer for the Boy/Girl Scouts of America
- Volunteer for the YMCA in Your Area
8. Take a FUN Online Class
Okay… don’t let the word “class” fool you. Honestly, there are SO many cool online classes that teens can take! And, the best part is, they can pick and choose what THEY want to learn. It’s a great way for them to take their passions to new heights, pick up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Hey, it’s better than being bored, right!? Here are a few fun ideas!
- Animation and Film Making Techniques Course (Maya Academy)
- Learn How to Code or Develop Your Own App (Coda Kid)
- Introduction to Web Development (Coursera)
- Learn a New Language (Duolingo)
- Exploring Time and Space (Coursera)
- Computer Gaming/Design (Coursera)
9. Learn a New Instrument
If your teen has an interest in learning a new instrument, summer is a great time to get started! Think it’s too expensive? Well, it turns out there are tons of cool resources out there to help them learn on their own! From virtual drumming and guitar tutorials to interactive lessons for beginner piano players and even how to read music! Check out this site for the coolest list of resources: 16 Best Resources for Learning an Instrument on Your Own
10. Get in Shape
What better time is there than summer for your teen to ramp up their physical activity and get in shape? Whether they take up running or jogging, get on the hiking trails or take long bike rides with friends, there are tons of ways for teens to get strong, fit and in shape this summer.
And, if they’re interested in joining a gym but think it’s too expensive… think again! Planet Fitness is offering high schoolers FREE gym membership this summer. School may be OUT, but the gym is IN!
Also, don’t forget that nutrition and healthy eating go hand-in-hand with getting in shape. Pass along these free nutrition classes to your teen so they know what to eat, what not to eat, and the importance of proper nutrition to stay healthy and strong.
11. Plan a Few Adventures
Whether your family is planning on taking your usual trip to the beach or you’re just laying low this summer, it’s easy enough to carve out time this summer for a few fun impromptu adventures. Maybe it’s a day trip to the city to check out the museums, a cool historical sight, or hit a few restaurants, or maybe it’s a weekend trip to the mountains to sightsee and spend some quality time with your teen. Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do as a family is spend time together.
12. Do a Cool Craft
Summer is supposed to give your teen a little much-needed time to wind down from their typical busy schedule and the perfect way to relax and get their creative juices flowing is by doing a fun DIY craft. Check out this site for 39 fun ideas!
Here are a few MORE ideas!
- Conduct an Experiment. Here are a few experiments you might want to try!
- Learn to Cook… well, anything! Check out these easy recipes any teen can make.
- Start a Blog. Here is what you need to know to get started.
- Clean and Organize Your Bedroom. (That’ll freak your parents out!)
- Start a New Hobby. For 69 awesome hobby ideas, check out this site.
The best way to help your teen have a productive summer and still have fun is by creating a healthy balance.
Being productive is great, but so is being bored. Yes… bored. Boredom – time without scheduled activities – can encourage your teen to independently find something to do, whether it’s making plans with friends, going for a bike ride, playing video games for a while, reading, or even (gasp!) cleaning their room.
Be sure to loosen your rules a bit, too, and let your teen enjoy the summer vibe. Consider offering a slightly later curfew, cut them some slack when it comes to screen time or television, let them have a few sleepovers, and give them the freedom to catch plenty of ZZZs… you know how much teens love their long, luxurious naps! Above all, let them enjoy their summer. Soon enough, they’ll be adulting and summers as they know it will be a thing of the past…
About Morgan Hill:
Morgan Hill is an essayist and humorist. She has written for many online and print publications including Insider, Your Teen Magazine, Revel, and MASK Magazine. She is the mother of freshman and senior sons in high school. When not writing, she can be found at flea markets, in her garden, photographing architecture, taking cooking classes or eating the stinkiest cheese she can find. You can also find her on Twitter @MorganHWrites or Instagram @MorganHillWriter