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Many working parents of young teens dread the arrival of summer. When your child is too old for day care, but too young for a job, it is difficult to keep your teen busy for those summer months. Here are a few activities that will allow your child to use his/her head, become more responsible, and to share quality time with you, adding up to stress-free summer for parents and children.

Start a book club. With the popularity of Oprah's Book Club, now is the time to get your teen involved in reading. Make it a club for two, or add a few of your child's friends and their moms. Start off by choosing a book that is on the "light" side – maybe something you have already read – so your child isn't "scared off'" by reading. Set aside one evening a week to get together and discuss the book. Let your child choose the next reading selection, and encourage her to spend some time at the local library. Even children that get bored with reading can find a book that they will enjoy, whether it's a mystery, a love story or a horror thriller, let them experiment, until they find the genre they like. If you've opted for the larger book club, have your child select the menu for the club's meeting. Whether it's a dinner meeting or just some light snacks, allow your child to pick and prepare the menu.

If your son or daughter enjoys "surfing the net," challenge their ability by asking them a "computer question of the day." This could be anything from "What other cities the baseball team the Athletics played for before going to Oakland?" or "Who wrote the Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, and how did each Justice vote?" Give them some incentive by rewarding them with an extra ½ hour of computer time for a correct answer. Another way to utilize your child's computer time is by communicating with them from your office. Let them know you're thinking of them by sending an e-mail when they least expect it!

Since summer is vacation time for most families, have your teen offer her services as a "pet sitter" or "plant waterer". Make sure, though, that this is done only in your local neighborhood with people you know and are comfortable with. This gives her an opportunity to earn some pocket money and learn responsibility.

If your child earns a weekly allowance for doing chores, add special projects to their chore list and pay them a bonus for each completed project. For instance, if there is a task that you absolutely hate doing, like cleaning the closets, add this to the project list. If you have more than one child, put the projects out for "bid" – let each child bid on how much they think it's worth, and accept the lowest bid.

Plan a "local trip of the week." Demonstrate your trust and confidence in your young teen by scheduling a trip for them each week. Again, get other parents involved so that it's a group outing. Perhaps a trip to the local art museum, science exhibit, or state fair. The kids will enjoy being treated like an adult and will have a great time without realizing they're learning, too!

Do you trust your child in the kitchen? Now's the time to start. As you know, most kids complain about "what's for dinner". Kill two birds with one stone by allowing your child to choose "what's for dinner" and have them prepare it. There are, however, a few hitches: It can't come out of a box – no frozen pizza – and they have to prepare the meal from start to finish. This means buying the ingredients, cooking the meal AND cleaning up. This is one summer activity that will continue into the fall and winter!!

Depending upon the distance between your home and office, schedule a weekly lunch. This doesn't have to be at a fancy restaurant. Opt for a picnic lunch in a local park or a favorite fast-food restaurant. This will be a nice treat for the both of you.

Many communities offer a summer Parks and Recreation program. While these programs are usually geared toward younger children, some activities, like swimming, basketball, volleyball, etc. may work. It is also possible that your teen can participate in some of the activities for the younger children as an "aide" or "helper", gaining valuable experience working with smaller children.

You can structure your teen's time and activities without him/her even being aware of it. A day at the pool, a trip to the city, a day for projects, reading, etc. They will be too busy to realize that you have them on a schedule.

In today's society, with increasing drug use and juvenile crime, it's easy for teens to stray. The best thing we can do as parents is stay involved in our kid's lives, even when we're not physically with them. By keeping them busy, we are showing our children that we trust them and respect them. They, in turn, will respect us and themselves and will enjoy the little challenges we assign then over their summer vacation.