Summer stretches before us, beckoning with its bright sunshine and warm breezes. If you live somewhere like me, summer promises very hot weather which can be either draining or invigorating, depending on your personality and perspective. I happen to love the 110-degree heat, but some people prefer staying indoors, basking in the air conditioning and enjoying a cold iced tea! In any case, no matter what the temperature, come June, the rhythm of your days is bound to change.

Though some families choose to homeschool year-round, the majority of us find ourselves with three months of "freedom" from day-to-day homeschooling. Even year-round homeschoolers usually lighten their schedules, concentrating on different things than they studied throughout the regular school year, and often switching to a more laid-back approach to learning.

Younger children seem to have no problem filling their days with outdoor play--climbing trees, building forts, hiking trails, skating, biking, and reading out in the treehouse. Long summer evenings offer our families such fun as barbecues and croquet, catching fireflies and playing hide-and-seek in the dusk, and seemingly endless games of Uno, Monopoly, and Stratego. We all know firsthand that summertime is great for family bonding and making memories.

But what about our high-school-aged kids? For many of them, summer can easily devolve into boredom and wasted time at best--lazy attitudes and real trouble at worst. The summer months definitely require a planned course of action when it comes to our teens. Don't make the mistake of letting the hot days arrive with no idea what your teens will be doing with all of that free time.

Encourage your older kids to actively consider the various things they would like to tackle this summer. It's easy to get stuck in a rut at any age, so you might need to prod them into thinking in ways that are new to them. In addition, some teens have fallen into the trap of believing they shouldn't attempt to learn anything they feel they won't be able to "master." They need to understand (maybe through your example?) that experimenting with new projects and exploring new topics is a lifelong opportunity that we should embrace. Learning does not end when we turn eighteen. Everyone can benefit from acquiring new skills and knowledge despite the fact that we will all achieve differing levels of mastery.

Summertime offers up a wide range of options for our high school kids, and many of these choices will be highly approved or even expected by college admission committees when that time comes. Other choices may directly affect your teen's spiritual life, specifically influence a career path, or simply add to his or her repertoire of both practical and enjoyable life skills.

Here are some opportunities for your teens to consider pursuing this summer.

BEFORE WE GET STARTED . . .

Some of the ideas we'll discuss here may not be possible or beneficial to everyone. Some could potentially be detrimental, depending on the exact situation. As always, parents should do their homework ahead of time before allowing their teen to take part in any activity where the parent may not be directly involved. Prayerful consideration and ongoing involvement and observation are crucial to making sure our children's educational needs are met in a safe and God-honoring way.

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Sometimes the best choice for the homeschooled high school student is to take one or two topics and study them in-depth throughout the summer. Perhaps your teen has fallen behind in algebra or has never really understood how to write a persuasive essay. Now is the perfect time for intensive review or for taking an entirely new approach to the material. Students can study some topics independently, while other topics may need the assistance of a private tutor. (By the way, high school and college exchange students love to earn extra money by doing foreign language tutoring.)