Cyclists biking outdoorsSummer is a great time to get away from school and give your brain a much-deserved break. I wholeheartedly believe that students need to step back from the school year and just unwind. However, taking 3 months to play video games and hang out at the pool is not always the best idea. Students should use some of that time to explore different activities to enhance their learning skills or personal resume. Here are 5 activities that will allow your student to have a fun yet productive summer break.

1) Community Service

Many schools, especially private schools, require students to fulfill a certain amount of community service hours per year. Often times students can accomplish this over the summer. This is a perfect time to knock out these hours and build up your resume. Colleges love students who volunteer their time. And community service can be a fun activity. Students can volunteer at a kids sports camp, help out at the local-area food bank, attend a church mission, or numerous other activities that are both rewarding and enjoyable.

2) Summer Job

For high school students, getting a summer job can be a great eye-opening experience. I have recently worked with a student who started working at a hamburger restaurant a couple of evenings a week. And he is absolutely loving the job! Not only does he get a paycheck every 2 weeks (his first), but he gets all the free food he can eat. A summer job can teach students the importance of responsibility, timeliness, and teamwork, all qualities that will serve them well when school resumes.

3) Summer Reading

Students taking advanced humanities courses in high school (AP English, History, etc.) will almost always have required summer reading. However, any student can benefit from picking up some good books over the summer. I recommend finding books that are interesting for the student. The New York Times Bestseller list is a good place to start. You can also check out my list from Spring Break. To encourage summer reading, parents can buy the same book as their students and read along. Family discussions are a great way to engage students and show them the importance of reading.

4) Sports

My summers were dedicated to sports, and this is a great time to put in the extra work that will pay off during the school season. Many schools run mandatory summer workouts for their various sports teams. But even if yours does not, your student may want to participate in some off-season conditioning or sports camp. There are also numerous sports leagues during the summer that offer a great way to participate in a fun environment and meet new people. Sports outside of school will also give the opportunity to meet new coaches and learn some new techniques.

5) Travel

The beauty of summer vacation is that it gives students plenty of time to try new experiences. One of the most important activities students can do is gain exposure to new cultures. A week-long trip to a new environment can give your student a new perspective. There are so many options for traveling both in the United States and internationally. National parks are some of the most inspiring places in the world, and there is likely a park within a few hours drive no matter where you live. And depending on where you are traveling, our summer can be the low season in many international places. The possibilities are endless, but the important thing is to get out and see something new. I like to pick somewhere I’ve never been and rent a house for a week. That gives you the opportunity to get to know a spot and experience the culture as a local.

Summer is my favorite season of the year. Students get warm weather and plenty of time away from school to try some new activities. I encourage students and parents to explore some of these options together. Making this a priority will stick with both of you long after the graduate.