Teenagers tend to get in the most trouble when they get bored and don’t have anything to do. Keeping them excited and involved distracts them from other poor decisions or inappropriate behavior. Schools can be the perfect venues for safe, healthy activities. These activities not only save teenagers from risky distractions but also enrich teens with experiences and opportunities that can launch them into their college and career lives.
Every teen has a talent or two. Teachers can often discover those while getting to know their students. As a parent, you can talk with your child’s teachers to find out what subjects and strengths your child gravitates toward in school. Talk with your child and his teacher about opportunities that he may have to further explore those talents. If your child shows a particular strength in math, maybe he can tutor others during his free time. This will further reinforce his own skills while giving him tools to teach and interact with others. If your child has a green thumb, maybe he can get involved in the landscaping or design a garden in a courtyard. This sense of ownership will encourage him to take pride in and further care for the grounds.
Sometimes teens’ schedules can be a little overloaded, between schoolwork, college preparation, sports, religious activities and social time with friends. Help your child find a hobby that helps her relax during those few quiet moments she can find in school. This will help her balance her schedule overall and help her control stress in her life. Encourage her to pack a journal to work on fiction pieces, journalistic articles, brainstorming or poems. This can help her express her feelings and find some serenity in her day. Sketchpads can serve this purpose for artists.
Student groups at your child’s school are a great way to fill your child’s downtime. Language groups, cultural groups, sports teams, honor societies, subject clubs and other groups help your child to learn more about a topic that excites him. If there are no clubs of interest at his school, encourage him to start his own. He may choose to start a chapter of a national group or start his own grass-roots effort. Either way, he will gather valuable leadership and organizational skills. Whether he is a social butterfly or a shy bug, a school club can help him meet others with similar interests and develop friendships.