Another excellent way for many teens to spend their summers is working a job. This employment might be a paid job, a volunteer opportunity, or a more formal apprenticeship. Through such work, your students can experience the challenges of relating to other authority figures, learn many practical skills, and develop valuable leadership traits. Your teens may come away with a more mature view of the world, and they just might gain added insight as to what exactly they want to do with their adult lives.

For instance, a teen that expresses the desire to work in the veterinary field needs to experience firsthand what this type of work actually entails on a daily basis. When I conducted an informal survey recently, many vets in my tri-county area said they would be thrilled if a committed older homeschool student approached them about working as a summer volunteer. They mentioned that people don't always understand that becoming a veterinarian requires many long years of study, and that it's not always as glamorous as it sometimes appears.

In truth, not all teens are ready to work a job in the "outside" world. Still, employment options are available--perhaps a job with a Christian-owned business or working for a member of your extended family. My oldest son's first job was weeding and digging ditches in my brother's plant nursery. Considering my son is a real academic at heart, he learned a true appreciation for the value of sweat and manual labor. Alternatively, some older kids have an entrepreneurial spirit that leads them to start their own businesses: jobs as varied as yard work, computer repair, cake decorating, and house cleaning.

Of course, not all summer jobs will lead your children to their future roles in life. Some jobs are worked mainly for the purpose of saving money for specific goals--perhaps for college expenses, a car, or even a house down payment. Meanwhile, our teens can glean the satisfaction of working a job to the best of their ability, while all the time learning what it takes to maintain a balanced life in terms of family, friends, studies, and other interests.

Lastly, another working opportunity many teens find enriching is going on a summer mission trip. Many churches and other Christian organizations sponsor such trips. The teens are usually involved with child evangelism, building church additions and housing, and other forms of service.


By this point, some parents and teens might be wondering if the summer months can be spent in a more relaxed manner that still yields much in terms of productivity. The answer is: of course! We parents know that there is always something more to learn--exciting, fun, and useful things. Additionally, we all see the need of teaching our teens the real-life skills we know they will need in only a few years. Yet during our regular homeschool year, we are usually too busy to add in these extra elements of a good education. Summer provides the perfect chance for our teens to broaden their horizons and learn some of these wonderful extras.

Below is a list of life skills to start you thinking. I am certain you and your teens can come up with many more!

  • Calligraphy
  • Woodworking
  • Scrapbooking
  • Budgeting
  • Car Repair
  • Whittling
  • Portrait or Landscape Painting
  • Vegetable Gardening
  • Canning
  • Yeast Breads
  • Sewing
  • Knitting or Crocheting
  • Fishing
  • GPS
  • Driver's Training
  • CPR Training
  • Jewelry Making
  • Cake Decorating
  • Yard Care
  • Construction
  • Photography


Finally, one advantage of the summer months that I particularly enjoy is the added time available for one-on-one dates with my teens. Soon they will be gone from our home and establishing independent lives of their own, so I'm glad for every chance I have to talk with them about their dreams and goals and thoughts. And what kid could refuse the offer of a hot fudge sundae or a special coffee with Mom or Dad?

As homeschool parents, it is our responsibility and privilege to make sure that, in ways that truly matter to them, our teens are prepared to make their summers count.

First published May 25, 2007

Kim Lundberg is the busy mom of 9 great kids. She and her family have been homeschooling for 16 years, and they make their home in beautiful northern California. Kim enjoys teaching drama, writing, and world history classes, as well as reading mysteries, baking goodies, camping, and listening to her kids talk, sing, and make music.

This article was originally published in the May/June '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine, a national publication dedicated to encouraging and equipping Christian homeschoolers. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com