After another gruelling year of high school, your teen deserves a chance to rest and recharge over the Christmas break. But there’s plenty of time to find productive things to do on holidays too.
If your teen wants to while away their days off school reading books, playing video games or hanging out with their friends, we get it. But like all good things, too much of it may leave them in a bit of a funk. Try encouraging them to balance out these relaxing activities with a few that will build on their skills, challenge their ways of thinking and prepare them for the future.
Whether it’s taking a short online course, setting and working towards a personal goal or volunteering for a community-based project, there are plenty of options for productive things to do during the holidays.
Help your teen achieve a balance between rest and productivity this holiday season.
Take a short course
There are heaps of fantastic short courses available online perfect for self-paced learning. What’s even better is that many of them are completely free. Your teen can pick an area of study that interests them and choose a structured mode of delivery, or something a bit more flexible, where they can jump in and out whenever they choose. Often there are options to gain a certificate upon completion (sometimes for a small fee), so they have something to add to their resumé or portfolio.
Short courses are a great way to get your teen thinking about what subjects they want to take in Year 12, and what they want to do after high school. They could give your child an indication of whether they’d like to pursue Vocational Education and Training subjects in school in the next few years.
Learn a new skill
School holidays are also a great time to try new things, learn new hobbies and build skills in different areas. If your teen is a bit crafty and enjoys making things with their hands, have a look at the classes available through ClassBento. From candle-making to botanical water colour painting and everything in between, there are a heap of fun and creative activities for your teen to immersive themselves in, or for you to try out together. Classes are available online or in-person and range in price.
Another place to upskill is online via Skillshare. They have classes focused on building skills in preparation for digital-focused careers such as graphic design, videography and social media marketing. There’s also a cache of motivational and wellness-centred classes that might help your teen focus on their mental health or figure out what they’re passionate about pursuing as a career. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial, browse their range of free classes, or join as a member for a fee.
Get a summer job or work experience
Does your teen have a casual job yet? If not, perhaps they could pick up some summer work or organise work experience in an industry they’re interested in.
If your teen has retail experience, many retail stores look for Christmas casuals from November to January. These positions often pay well, with double time offered over the public holidays (always check this before applying) – great if your family is planning on staying at home this Christmas. It can, however, be competitive to get a position without prior retail experience.
Here are some other places to start looking for casual summer jobs:
Check your local shopping centre’s social media pages to see if they’re hiring summer casuals for specific Christmas-related tasks, such as Christmas wrapping stalls and Santa’s helpers at photo booths.
Ask your friends and neighbours if they need a babysitter (if your teen is good with kids) over the festive season.
See if anyone in the neighbourhood is looking for someone to mow their lawn, clean the pool or wash the car – odd jobs that could earn your teen a bit of extra cash.
Getting a paying job over the summer is a good way for your teen to start saving for big ticket items like a car. It’ll also help them develop their budgeting skills – something they’ll definitely need as an adult.
However, your teen may be more interested in getting experience in the field they’d like to build a career in. They may choose to approach local businesses or companies for work experience instead, which will boost their resume and give them a head start in their studies.
Make sure you read through your teen’s employment/work experience contract with them or meet their manager to assess the safety of their new workplace. Familiarise yourself with workers' rights for young people to ensure your teen is being treated fairly in the workplace, whether they’re being paid or not.
Join a local club/project
Whether it’s a town band, local theatre group, sports team or youth centre, there are plenty of options when it comes to getting involved in the local community. Encouraging your teen to connect with others outside of their usual school environment will help them to broaden their perspectives and build their confidence. It will give them the chance to make new friends and forge new connections to inspire their career path.
Check your local library or city council website to see if there are any youth-focused projects or programs happening over the summer. This is another productive thing to do in the holidays that will look great on your teen’s resumé.
Volunteer at a local event
The start of the silly season usually kicks off a whole range of fun events around your neighbourhood. Christmas carols often attract stalls such as face painting or community raffles run by local charities – and are great opportunities for volunteering and getting into the festive cheer.
Charities may also organise Christmas lunches for those in the community looking for some company over the holiday period. You may like to appeal to your family’s philanthropic side and volunteer together at such an event. Contact your local Salvation Army or Saint Vincent de Paul society to see what they have organised throughout the festive season.
Helping your teen to discover the best productive things to do in the holidays is about more than sharing this list with them. Talk to them about whether there’s a new activity they’ve been wanting to try, or a skill they’d like to build on. You don’t have to swoop straight in by asking what career they want to pursue, as more likely than not, they won’t know yet – and that’s completely OK.
School holidays are about trying new things to help narrow down what your teen is interested in and good at. That and spending time relaxing and being with family. Balancing these things in equal measure will help your teen to have restful, enjoyable Christmas holidays.