1. Adult Education Courses– There are many adult education courses given in most communities. Check with your local colleges to see what may be offered. Some may be for an entire semester, while others may be much shorter. Many are fun or useful. Swing dance, medieval weapons making, cabinetry and other interesting things may be offered, so it is not always traditional academic fare.
2. Volunteer– Many places could use an extra hand, and may teach your teen useful skills along the way. There are the traditional places such as the church, hospital, nursing home, soup kitchen or Habitat for Humanity, but the local bee keeper, small engine repairman or dog groomer may also appreciate some unpaid help.
3. Hobby Shops– Hobby shops often have classes that teenagers may enjoy. My children have taken lessons in pottery, dichroic glass fusing, wood working (using a lathe) and jewelry making. I am currently drooling over a glass blowing class, but the youngest is not yet 16 (the cut off age), so we are waiting.
4. Lectures– Museums, colleges and other community organizations often have guest lecturers. Check the local paper and/or the college websites to see what is being offered.
5. Seminars– Many times there are seminars given for the general public. Get Motivated is one of these. They bring in big name speakers. In between the speakers are commercials for other high priced learning opportunities, but if you know how to say ‘no’ to what you know you will not benefit from, then this is a great way to hear some truly remarkable people speak.
6. Church events– Most churches allow everyone to attend their events. By investigating what each church is offering your teen may see concerts, comedians, take a course on financial responsibility or improve their Bible knowledge.
7. Toast Masters– If your teen is scared to death of public speaking Toast Masters offers a gentle, supportive way to gain confidence. There are Toast Masters groups in most communities.
8. College Events– Many colleges bring in entertainment and allow members of the community to purchase tickets as well. Most of the time the performances are cheaper than you could see them elsewhere, and your teen gets to check out the college, without the pressure of an official visit.
9. Hikes– There are many interesting hikes to take. Plaques along the way often teach history without it seeming like you planned a history lesson.
10. Mining– Many areas have gem or other precious metal mining for a price. Some also have places where ‘rock hounds’ can dig for free. Use the internet to find places you may dig in your area.
11. Road trips– Your teen should now be doing much of their work independently. If they can complete their course work, then a trip is not unreasonable. Combine education with fun by visiting museums as part of your tour. There are also fun historical places like Pops by Oklahoma City on Route 66 where you can get any kind of soda imaginable.
12. Use movies to teach literature- Learning what onomatopoeia is may not be fun, but it is more fun when you get to watch your favorite movies and look for it. Also many movies are remakes of classics. For example the Lion King is Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and She’s the Man is 12th Night. Google whatever classics you are currently studying and see if Hollywood has a modern remake to compare it to.
13. Use food- Teens are always hungry. Build cells by cutting open a bun, spreading cream cheese and adding other toppings for organelles (a friend of mine’s suggestion). Frost a cake and decorate it as a contour map of Egypt. Reinforce adding or dividing fractions by doubling or halving the recipe.
14. Use Pinterest- Pinterest has great ideas, especially for crafts. I started looking, and now my daughter goes on herself, gives me a list and does what she likes independently.
15. Order kits- You can do almost anything at home, just follow the directions carefully. The last big project we did was basket weaving. My daughter now wants to make a carpet ball table.
16. Home Improvement– Many building places offer free classes and suggestions on how to improve your home. Get the kids involved. One day they will have a home of their own and these skills will benefit them. Recently we made mosaic tables, and placed a mosaic dragon on the kitchen floor. My son is now starting to landscape the yard, with the freedom to use some of his own ideas.
17. Cooking classes– As I said, teens are always hungry. Cake decorating is also an option.
18. Interesting science experiments– Search the internet for things that are ‘cooler’ than what you usually do. If you have boy, things that blow up are typically a hit. dissection kits and other interesting activities are also available through sites like Home School Science Tools. Our favorite was making elephant toothpaste!
19. Sports– Many teens are welcome on adult leagues, and classes in Tae Kwon Do, Zumba or golf are also age appropriate now.
20. Music and Drama– Many areas have community bands and theater groups. They are fun and low pressure. If your teen has talent in these areas they may enjoy joining one.
21. Book clubs– If your teen is a reader they may also enjoy joining a local book club. They are a great way to meet interesting people and share ideas.
22. Job Shadow– To help your teen figure out what they want to do in life you may want to set up opportunities for them to observe a day or two on a job they think they would be interested in. Most people will gladly allow them to do this.
23. Allow them to Explore their Own Interests– This is a time for them to develop hobbies that will enrich their lives. Currently my son is looking into blacksmithing, while my daughter is trying her hand at photography.
24. Part time jobs- Part time jobs give teens practice being responsible and hard working without mom looking over their shoulder. If nothing else they teach your teen exactly why they do not want to leave school early and try to live on minimum wage.
25. Do things with them- They are now approaching adulthood and it is time to start establishing a more adult relationship with them. Take them out to eat, to bowl or anywhere else there is a lot of down time where you may talk. Ask their opinions, listen and try not to over-react if they do not think as you do.
Photo by Matija Barrett
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