It can be hard to come to terms with the fact that this may be the second summer in which your child is unable to fully engage in a planned activity, job, or camp. If plans are still up in the air, it may be tempting to just “wait and see.” Instead, I recommend putting some thought into alternatives, now.
The need to devise an alternative plan for the summer may be an opportunity for your child to learn more about themselves and to sharpen their understanding of the direction they may pursue in college and beyond. Help them find a way to pursue something meaningful to them. It is okay if that means something low key, like caring for siblings, working on a household project, or helping out in the family business.
Begin by talking to your child about what interests them. What would they like to learn more about? In what area – academically or otherwise – would they like to gain a new skill? Life will get busy again soon; this is a rare opportunity to pause, ask, and act on these kinds of questions.
Here are some other options to consider:
Your town is a good place to ask what is needed. Senior citizen neighbors may need help with groceries or yard work. Local food pantries need help more than ever.
Many nonprofits need help with digital marketing and social media. Political campaigns and causes are always looking for enthusiastic supporters!
You’ll find a link to current volunteer options, here: https://www.volunteermatch.org/
Getting a Job.
Check with your town, senior center, landscaping companies, essential businesses, etc., to see who is hiring this summer.
Encourage your child to get the word out to neighbors regarding your child’s availability to walk dogs, pet-sit, tutor a younger child virtually, etc.
Tapping Into Creativity.
Summer is a perfect time to create something new: photography, creative writing, building a robot or a wood project, making a cookbook, learning to paint with watercolors, etc.
Learning a Skill.
There are many free or low-cost virtual classes available on both academic and purely fun topics. Learn to code from Code Academy; learn photoshop and editing from the Education Channel on YouTube; sharpen your Spanish with daily practice on Duolingo.
Other class platforms include Coursera, EDx, Udacity, Udemy, and Skillshare (there are many more).
Brushing up on academic-related areas.
Summer is a good time to work on academic areas of deficit, positioning your child for success as they begin the new school year. For example, this may mean working with an academic coach for executive functioning, or with a math or writing tutor.
This is a good time to reach out to extended family, neighbors, and friends, to see if your child can talk to them about what they do for work. This helps your child learn about different fields and to learn more about what may interest them in the future. It’s also good practice for speaking with adults and learning how to ask good questions – two skills they will need beyond high school!
Staying connected with friends and continuing some version of previous activities (safely!) helps take the edge off the isolation we are all still experiencing. Encourage your child to reach out to groups he/she was involved with: acapella groups, school newspapers, virtual team workouts, group community service projects – all of these can continue with a little effort and planning.
Overall, what's most important is that your child has some plan for the summer. Relaxing is fine for a while, but structure, goals, and mental engagement will allow him or her to look back on the summer of 2021 and feel good about what was accomplished.
P.S. Here are some additional ideas for summer engagement.