In the current climate we’re in, summer break can seem like a really great way to allow our teens to regroup after a pretty tough year. However, there is much today's rising freshmen and rising sophomores can do to build a successful pathway through high school and beyond for themselves and still get the recovery time they need.
It starts with taking the time with your teen to dream about what life after high school could potentially look like. No matter what year your student is in high school, taking time over each summer break to have some light-hearted, open-ended discussions over what your teen wants to do in the 10-years or so after high school graduation can go a long way.
Here's the breakdown that I recommend... but, before you begin… These ideas work best when you involve your student in the decision-making process. It may not be whether or not they do these activities, but the timing or even type that may be most important.
As a parent of a high school student your role is shifting from administrator to guide. The older they are the more of a guide you should be, determining to set appropriate guard rails each year until they graduate.
Every summer from before the freshman year to before the senior year:
Start with calling out skills or passions your teen has that may transfer into a particular career. Ask your teen open-ended dream-based questions like: If you could do anything, no restrictions, what would you do with the first 10 years after high school? Keep this light-hearted and fun. Allow for any answer; most teens will “try on” hundreds of ideas before they settle on one.
Summer Before Freshman and/or Sophomore Year:
Focus on building healthy habits and boundaries. Teens may not want to be told how to do this, but setting clear expectations can help them make wise choices (or they will learn from experiencing the consequences). These are best decided upon together. Set a time for a discussion of the boundaries that need to be created so everyone has a successful year.
Encourage your teen to gain experience. Volunteering is a great way to gain skills as well as character references. Teens can volunteer at school, church, sports leagues, and other places in their communities. Experience leads to knowledge which can help guide teens in their decision making about their future.
Help your teen save money for future transportation and prepare for their driver’s test. Help your teen gain employment in order to build savings toward their future transportation needs and post-high school plans. And help them prepare for their driver’s test by researching together (or having them research on their own) the steps to get their driver’s license.
Encourage your teen to do at least one job shadow of a career they are interested in. Knowing in theory what career they want is good, but very often real life experience can help clarify whether this career is a good fit. Job shadowing can save a lot of time and create certainty about what careers to pursue.
While our teens need time to recover from all they have been through, building in some future-planning activities is a great way to keep stress and anxiety lower during the school year.
For more on navigating the post-high school process, please check our my other posts OR check out my new book College is Not Mandatory; A Parent's Guide to Navigating the Options Available to Our Kids After High School OR subscribe to my exclusive High School Parent email list to get notifications of new posts, products, tools and programs designed to help you help your teen build the best possible pathway to success!