Few years ago, as a teacher in a secondary school, at the beginning of the session when I asked how the long vacation went, the first thing I heard some of my students say was, ‘Aunty, the holiday was boring.’
Many of them looked forward to resumption and as much as they hated school work, it was much more preferable than staying at home. At least they got to talk with their friends.
I am not a fan of holiday coaching classes, because I don’t see how a child spends 10 months learning stuff that never add to their personal development and yet is expected to spend the only long break he has learning the same old things.
As a teenager, the only joy I had when holiday lessons commenced was that I could play with my friends and get an opportunity to meet my crush and well as get crushed on.
Thankfully, some of these coaching classes have begun to include some other fun activities to keep their teens engaged beyond some boring quadratic equation and ‘what is a noun’ lessons.
When I researched on this topic, I discovered that in many developed parts of the country, summer time came with so many creative activities for adolescents and teenagers. But here in Nigeria, there are limits to what a teenager can engage in and besides, parents are busy with work and opportunities are limited.
I think there is a way around this. I have been able to come up with these seven activities that can keep teenagers busy. Even if they have to go for holiday lessons, these activities can be included. They will help develop these teenagers mentally and otherwise.
Whether you have a teen child or you are teen worker, or a lover of teens, these activities can be helpful.
1. Skill acquisition
In an event I attended recently, a 13 year old girl stood on the podium proudly sharing how she became an entrepreneur. She had started her craft business at ten using all her summer breaks to learn and develop her skills. I was amazed at another five year old girl who received an award for the young entrepreneur of the year. From a distance, I marveled at the cake she baked. She was so cute and bold standing up before so many people.
Teens can learn a variety of skills during this summer breaks. Find out what area they are interested in and let them develop those skills. There are lots of them out there. There is bag making, shoe making, fashion designing, catering, graphics, and so many others.
Let them develop their writing skills, get them into music schools, pay tutors to teach them to play an instrument. If you have a friend who is established in something your teen loves, make arrangements for him to do an internship or volunteer during the summer break.
2. Provide interesting fiction books.
Teens love stories. One of the great things about fiction is the fact that it helps their imagination soar. It allows them see the world in pictures and also builds their cognitive ability.
Some pre-teens came to my office some time ago and their father ordered them to go to the office library to read their school books. At that time, I was in the library working on something and I noticed they were just staring at their notebooks bored..
I wrote down a story in a paper. One of them kept coming to check if I had finished writing it. You should see how glued they were to the story when I finally gave them to read.
Another day, one of them asked if I had a storybook and seriously, I wished I did. I wished the books in our library could just turn to story books but as my place of work is a institute for Genetic Research, I knew there was no way a storybook could get into that environment.
Even if they don’t want to read, pay them to read. You’ll be helping them build their mental faculties. For teen workers or mentors, a book reading evening can be organized where they get to read a chapter of a book together and talk about it.
3. Get inspiring videos for them to watch.
I have watched a series of TED Talks by teenagers who have done amazing things. Have these teens watch some of these talks to inspire them. Plan an evening where you sit with them and talk about what they have watched. This means you should have watched the videos too. You could get inspiring movies for them and draw out questions from those movies. By doing that, they’ll not only be entertained but also educated.
4. Take them out on weekends.
Summer Break is the best time to spend time with your teens because once school resumes, there would be too much to do- uniforms to wash, homework to complete and other activities that might take your time.
Take them out for shopping, visit the museum and other interesting places with them. If you can, plan a vacation on a weekend if you can’t escape from work during a weekday. It doesn’t have to be an expensive trip. Family time will always remain memorable even after they’ve all grown up and left the house.
5. Plan an event
This applies to teen workers and mentors. Plan an event. It could be a visit to the orphanage, a teens program in church, fund raising for the aged and widows. Whatever plan you have in mind, let these teenagers be involved in every process. Let them head the committees and brainstorm on the order of program. This will help develop their leadership and people management skills.
6. Movie making.
In recent times, making short educative films have become easier than before. At that time, they would have needed camera and tripod stand and boom mic but now with a phone, you can make short films on different topics. You’ll be surprised how creative some of your teens are.
Let them list out a series of topics and in groups come up with a story and make plans for shooting.
7. Create a bucket list.
At the beginning of the summer break, for each week, write out different activities in pieces of paper or cards and place them in a bowl or basket. Let a teen from each group pick a card for the week. They will work together on whatever activity is written there. This should come with incentives. Teenagers love rewards.
What other activity can teenagers engage in this summer?