How to Help Your Child Design His Summer to Support Future Success

Help your teen make this summer count perhaps even more than those past. Help him develop the “muscle” for connecting summer activities to what he cares about. This process involves wrestling with and revealing more clearly your child’s concerns. Sometimes our own concerns compel us to project those ideas upon on him. Doing so doesn’t help your child align his activities with his concerns. Your student will need this skill as he goes through life to budget his time, money, and other scarce resources.

Here are 7 options to consider in the design of your student’s summer:

1) Attend a summer camp. Camp experiences provide exceptional opportunities to strengthen values and build confidence. Most camps teach kids to exercise teamwork skills, overcome obstacles, and employ critical decision making skills.1 Summer camps comprise an $18 billion dollar industry with more than 14,000 day and resident camps existing in the U.S. Each year more than 14 million children and adults attend camp in the U.S.2 Learn more.

2) Improve brain function. Encourage your child to explore a few select books of infinite value. I recommend Significant! From Frustrated to FranneTastic, by Franne McNeal a locally based author. Visit Amazon or GoodReads for more information.3 Reading novels can benefit your child as well. A recent study, conducted at Emory University and published in the journal Brain Connectivity, indicates that reading fiction improves brain connectivity and function on a variety of levels.4

3) Evaluate colleges. Plan college-focused visits. Schedule a tour and attend the school’s structured information session. Consider booking a hotel for an overnight stay with your child as this an excellent way to get a feel for the campus culture. Visiting a school can help narrow your student’s choices. Be sure to talk to enrolled students who are not affiliated with the admissions office as they may offer different insights.5 In addition to campus visits, utilize online tools such as

4) Prepare for college entrance exams. To prepare for entrance exams, SAT students can go to for study guides, study plans, practice tests, tips and a breakdown of the SAT. ACT takers can view sample questions, a practice test, scoring key, test tips, and more at Check your school’s summer schedule for ACT/SAT review sessions that allow for practice with peers.

5) Get a part-time job or an internship. Your teen may have an interest in a specific career she would like to pursue. You can help guide her without taking control by employing tools such as a part-time job and internship. Each tool provides opportunities for your student to:

  1. Develop skills to thrive in a professional workplace and in life
  2. Generate a strong sense of self-worth
  3. Develop her distinct identity
  4. Build her network for college acceptance and a career
  5. Increase her chance for employment

Learn more about internships and co-operative work experiences.

6) Participate in community service. Your child’s involvement can foster self-esteem and open doors that allow her to dream about new opportunities, explore career options, and inspire others. Students generally thrive in these environments and often discover increased meaning and purpose for their lives. The Radnor Township website offers a list of local organizations.

7) Increase financial literacy. Allocate time to activities that help develop financial literacy or competency in your student. It seems that our culture does not encourage the development of the muscle of allocating money and time. You can do your child a great service by discreetly encouraging her to embody how to do this. Have some fun with one of the numerous apps now available to help with budgeting and paying bills. Try Dollarbird, GoodBudget, LearnVest, or Wally.6

Balance is key to your child’s success. The best scenario is a summer designed to allow for opportunities of risk and responsibility, routine and unstructured time, and a sense of common purpose and belonging. If designed properly, she should take the lead to acquire increased resilience and decision-making skills for handling complex challenges and managing risk. Thoughtful design of your student’s summer, by your student, greatly increases the odds of his future success!

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