Most parents are conditioned to expect that their children will leave home when they’re 18, or their first semester of college begins, or whichever comes first. Teary moms and hiding-theirs-tears dads have expected and prepared for this moment for years, yet it rarely becomes easier.
However, in some cases your teen may be ready for an experience that involves leaving home and perhaps leaving the country long before their 18th birthday. Today’s teenagers are more independent and more self-sufficient than many of their counterparts were a generation ago, and opportunities for learning and growth come in all shapes, sizes, and locations.
If your teen is interested in travel, a specific subject of knowledge, or has simply needs a radical change in his or her life, these five experiences can have positive long-term social, educational, and behavioral impacts on your teen’s life.
The summer camps that parents may remember from their youth are vastly different from the summer camps now. Today, summer camps have become more specialized and focused on particular areas of interest and your teen can spend a few months away from home gaining new friends and pursuing a subject they’re passionate about or learning a new one.
Summer camps for teens are located all over the world, and feature programs like robotics, art, drama, horseback riding, and fashion design. You teen could even spend the summer pursuing their favorite school subject like math or creative writing. Additionally, many of these camps no longer take on the traditional camp form. While some do still feature cabins in the woods, others take place on university campuses.
Many students wait until they’re in college before considering a study-abroad program, but high school students have these opportunities as well. This could be especially beneficial if your teen is already studying a foreign language.
Whether it’s Europe, Asia, or South America, a summer or even an entire semester spent in another country will give your teen an insight into other cultures and how they work and play. His or her language skills will improve in an immersive environment, and taking them out of their comfort zone forces them to use skills they may not have known they had. Check with your child’s guidance counselor or your local Rotary Club for study abroad opportunities for teens.
Boarding school might feel like a drastic choice for some parents, but many teens who spent time away at school have fond memories of the experience and most come away ahead of their peers academically. Boarding schools generally have a more well-rounded curriculum and smaller class sizes, so your teen can get the attention they need.
Also, if your teen is experiencing behavioral issues most boarding schools have specialized staff that can help. Boarding schools for troubled teens like DiamondRanchAcademy.com are a neutral environment where teens have a real opportunity for change with the help of counseling professionals.
Retreats just aren’t for business team building or yoga any longer. As the idea of retreats for adults has grown, so has the idea of retreats for teens. Yes, these could still offer team building or yoga but many more options are available.
Your teen could spend a few weeks exploring the indigenous cultures of Peru or work on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. Regardless of which type of retreat you choose you can know that your teen will be with like-minded individuals exploring a specific interest or idea and learning along the way.
Volunteering brings about a great sense of pride, not only in adults but in teens as well. If your family has volunteered in the past then you know how it can be very uplifting bring a deeper sense of understanding about one’s place in the world.
Extended volunteer options for teens exist worldwide. Whether it’s working on a house for Habitat for Humanity or helping to dig wells in Africa, these well-supervised volunteer options for teens might be hard, physical labor, but your child will come away with a great sense of accomplishment and may even be more appreciative of their own life as it compares to that of others.
Given the chance, teens are wonderful people who, just like adults, yearn to find their place in the world and follow their passions. Any of these choices are excellent ways for you as a parent to facilitate change, and watch your young person begin to grow into the adult they were meant to be.