Finding fun things for teens to do in the summer is an age-old quest for parents. Both you and your teen look forward to a break from the school routine — early mornings, carpools, after-school practices and games — but your teen isn't exactly thrilled about hanging around the house all summer.  Wondering how to keep your teenager busy during the summer? Consider these summer activities for teens:

1. Volunteer

Summertime is a great time to encourage your teen to give back to the community. Volunteering teaches teens the value of hard work and giving to others. They can learn empathy and compassion, as well as gain a better understanding of how the world does — and doesn't — work. Depending on your school district, community service hours may also count toward your child's high school diploma. Wondering where to start? Check with your school, local library, place of worship or another community organization to find out what opportunities are available.

2. Get Active

Wondering how to keep a teenager busy during the summer? There's no time like summertime for your teen to get active. Encourage them to take walks outside, plan to meet friends at the pool and, if they're preparing for fall sports, remind them to spend time in the gym or at practice too. To get all of these in one place, consider joining the Gateway Region YMCA. Each of our branches offers a variety of fun and unique summertime activities for families and kids of all ages.

3. Learn a New Skill

During the school year, your teen focuses on reading, writing and math. Then there's science, music lessons and after-school sports. Summertime is a great time to encourage them to explore a new hobby, such as painting, drawing or programming. Or, maybe your teen has a love of reading they haven't been able to indulge recently — encourage them to spend time browsing the shelves at the library and indulging in a new book each week.

how to keep your teenager busy during the summer learn a new skill

4. Get a Job

If your teen meets the age requirements for employment, encourage them to find a part-time job. Even if they don't "need" the money, a part-time job gives them a reason to stick to a summer schedule and leave the house on a regular basis. It's also a great way for them to learn about responsibility and the value of earning their own money. If your teen has a lot on their plate and can't take a more "traditional" part-time job at a restaurant or retailer, babysitting, mowing lawns or house sitting could offer more flexibility schedule-wise.

5. Keep Their Brains Engaged

Just because school is out, there's no reason your teen should stop learning. Encouraging them to read regularly is a great start, but consider taking things to the next level. Look online for TED talks and educational resources that are available for your teen. Encourage them to take an online class or sign up for a class through the local community college or participate in a program through your town or city's Parks and Recreation services. You can also take advantage of your local library for more than just a good book. Libraries have a wide selection of videos, educational materials and public events designed to get everyone — including your teen — thinking.

6. Summer Camp

Find opportunities for your teen to participate in local day camps, week-long educational experiences, sleep-away camps and educational opportunities. Your teen's school guidance counselor can be a great resource for finding out-of-town educational opportunities or other summer activities for teens nearby. You can also check with your local church or religious community to find out about camps and mission trips your child can engage in.

How Do I Engage My Teen?

Finding and talking about summer activities for your teen is one way to convince them to stay active and engaged during summer break. You can engage with your teen in other ways too.

1. Plan Together

Sit down with your teen and ask them what they envision for their summer. Listen carefully and consider their wants. Then, share your ideas. Once you've both expressed your goals, find some common ground and come up with a plan for a successful summer.

2. Be Flexible

Even if you make a plan, it's subject to change. For example, you may plan for your teen to get a job, but they may struggle to find someone who will hire them. Or, you may decide that they'll take a pottery class at the local rec center, but find out after just a few sessions that they're bored. Remember to be flexible.

3. Leave Time to Relax

By the time summer comes around, teens are tired. They need a break from their school routine just as much as you do. Give them the space they need to rest and refresh their brains. It's okay if they sleep in or spend an afternoon reading a book on the porch. Teaching your child to relax is an important skill too.

4. Let Them Be Kids

As parents, it's tempting to fill each moment of the day with activities and ideas that will mold and shape our children into the adult we think they should be. But remember: teenagers are still kids. They need time to play and relax and, yes, even be around their parents — although they'll never admit it! Resist the urge to pressure them into constant activity or using their summer to get ahead. Soon enough, they won't have a "summer vacation" anymore.

5. Enjoy Having Them Home

Resist the urge to complain because they're eating all the food in the fridge or forgot to clean up their lunch dishes. Instead, enjoy the time you're together. Stop and ask your teen about their day. Take the afternoon off and watch movies with them or go swimming together. Make the most of their presence and your time with them.

how do I encourage my teen and keep them busy during the summer

Gateway Region YMCA

At the YMCA, we're committed to providing a wide range of activities to engage children and families of all ages and stages. We love watching families come in together and find activities to suit each person — swimming, cardio, fitness classes and sports teams. Whatever your family's interest, the Gateway Region YMCA welcomes you to check out our family-friendly facilities at one of our locations in and around St. Louis. Learn more about membership or visit one of our locations today!