How Teens Can Make the Most of Their Summer Break

5 min to read
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Summer for teenagers can be particularly exciting. Traditionally, summer is thought of as a time to relax from the grind of school, and while students should take time to recharge, there is a balance between taking a well-deserved break and using their time off school to pursue opportunities. 

Here are some tips for making the most out of the summer break for high school students and how they can avoid the summer slide.

What is the Summer Slide?

The summer slide is a phenomenon in which, over the summer, students lose some (upwards of about twenty percent) of the reading and math skills that they learned during the school year; hence they experience a backward “slide” in their reading and math skills. This summer learning loss can be reduced or even avoided by keeping students educationally active over the summer. However, this is not to say that summer should be all work and no play—students require balance.

Why Students Need Balance over the Summer Break

Research finds that not taking breaks or resting can result in burnout, during which students often have physical and mental exhaustion. Burnout can also result in a lack of motivation, decreased academic performance, reduced focus, negative attitudes, and a tendency to procrastinate on tasks. So, breaks and rest are necessary for students.

However, for parents and Learning Coaches to help students avoid the summer slide, there needs to be a balance between work and play. Here are some summer activities for teens to help them find a balance that works.


Travelling can be a wonderful opportunity to explore the world, practice different languages, and learn about various cultures. You can even travel with your teen to check out potential colleges.

However, you don’t have to venture far and wide to reap the benefits of travelling. For example, travel to local museums, botanical gardens, animal sanctuaries, or farms for a summer activity for teens.

Outdoor Activities

Summer is a great time for students to get outside, explore nature, have fun, and increase their naturalistic intelligence. Some outdoor activities for teens that they may enjoy include: hiking, fishing, bird watching, camping, nature photography, biking, rafting, and participating in nature conservation efforts. Outdoor activities are great summer activities for teens to keep them active.

A group of teens enjoying summer activities by playing with a jump rope.

Creative Activities

Creative activities can be fun and beneficial for teens by enabling them to practice their decision-making and problem-solving skills. Some research finds that engaging in art can help improve students’ self-awareness, social skills, and self-esteem as well as reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

Creative activities for teens can include practicing an instrument, attending a local show or concert, or getting involved in community theater. Teens can also make their own art through painting, sculpting, drawing, woodworking, or making crafts while exploring  explore diversity various cultures through art projects.

Educational Opportunities

Math Activities

Some teen summer activities that can help to build life skills include opportunities to practice math, such as analyzing sports by creating a fantasy league, starting their own business, practicing financial literacy, using math-specific apps such as Desmos.

Reading Activities

A summer slide education for teens can also include reading activities so that they do not lose their reading skills. For example, some summer activities for teens regarding reading could be for them to join their local library’s summer reading program or to form a book club with their friends. These options are great for encouraging teens to read and are opportunities for them to socialize.

You may also want to schedule daily reading time for the whole family so that reading becomes routine for your teen.

Another way to encourage your teen to read this summer is to give them books that appeal to their interests or that are written about, or by, people they admire. You can also reference reading lists if you need some ideas.

Summer School

Summer school often has the benefits of being flexible and allowing students to explore new interests, master challenging topics, recover lost credits, or work towards graduating early.

There are summer school programs, such as Pearson Online Academy’s affordable online courses, that enable students to catch up or get ahead in their coursework. Teens may even consider attending a dual enrollment program so that they can earn college credit while also completing their high school education.

There are several other opportunities for teens to attend summer classes that may speak to their interests and passions. You can find summer courses in your area by looking at nearby community colleges, 4-H organizations, your local recreation departments, or your local art studios.

Internships, Jobs, and Volunteer Work

Summer for teenagers is a perfect time to get an internship, volunteer, or obtain a part-time job. Internships, volunteer work, and jobs can center around something that your teen is passionate about—such as the environment or animals—or connect with your teen’s desired career. Gaining such valuable experience can help your teen to plan for their future, explore a possible career, and gain real work experience that colleges may look upon favorably.

Students need balance during the summer to ensure that they have fun and relax while making the most of their time and avoiding the summer slide. Discuss with your teen what they’re passionate about, what careers they’re looking at, and what they want to explore to get a feel for how they want to both relax and be productive during the summer. Together, you can avoid the summer slide and create a fun and meaningful summer for your teenager.

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