How to keep teenagers occupied at home (the long-term edition)

Help your teens learn new skills while staying entertained and productive during their time off school.
By aha insurance - May 29, 2020

At aha insurance we continually explore ways to stay in control of all aspects of life – because we know life is about more than insurance. In our Life Matters series we talk about staying in control of your life and living on your terms. Control feels great!

Teenagers are notorious for experiencing frequent boredom and having short attention spans. They also always seem to want to either hang out with friends or spend their time sleeping and Snapchatting the day away.

As a parent, you can help your teens leverage their tech skills, curiosity, and desire for independence to find productive activities while spending time in the house. Even without a summer job, your children can take up new hobbies that help prepare them for the next school year and any other steps they’ll soon take towards adulthood.

E-tutoring for volunteer hours

With e-tutoring, teens can stay home and earn credit towards the 40 hours of volunteer service they need to complete their high school graduation requirements. In addition to helping others, tutoring, whether in-person or virtual, is an asset to job and college applications, and helps teens reinforce their knowledge of academic subjects while building social skills. Your child’s school or school district may offer tutoring programs for high-achieving students to share their skills with peers at their grade level or younger students.

Your teenager may also need academic assistance that you understandably can’t provide as a busy parent who’s no longer a student. Now’s also a good time to find your child an e-tutoring service that helps them succeed in school.

Teenagers can also apply to help English learners practise their language skills online. The Teachers of English as a Second Language Association of Ontario has a volunteer job board that offers local and international ESL e-tutoring opportunities through various partner organizations.

Paper Airplane’s Youth Exchange Program is also a rewarding opportunity for young people “to help conflict-affected high school students master the English language to increase access to future opportunities.”

Start them on a new book series

Some teens devour books, and some only read when they’re assigned a novel for English class and can’t complete their assignments by watching the movie version. Still, books are a great way to pass the time while exploring new worlds, ideas, characters, and perspectives. With local libraries offering digital rentals and the selection of books available online, even teens that aren’t enthusiastic readers can find something that sparks their interest.

These popular classics and modern YA fiction series for teens might interest them:

Need more options? Try the 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels.

There might not be a series captivating enough for your cynical teen. Still, maybe they’d be interested in getting a head start on their reading for school this summer, by tucking into one of the pieces of classic literary works most commonly assigned by high school English teachers. On the other hand, thinking about reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Homer’s The Odyssey may make YA fiction a lot more appealing all of a sudden.

Some teens can’t keep still long enough to get through a chapter, let alone an entire novel. Thankfully, audiobook subscription services like Audible make it easy (and affordable) for your kids to absorb books through their earbuds. At the same time, they can exercise, cook, or clean their rooms. A parent can dream, right?

Advanced cooking

Some teens are already master chefs, while some can barely make a bowl of cereal, and most probably have cooking skills that fall somewhere in between. Experimenting with new recipes from pancake cereal to bread art is all the rage right now. No matter your teen’s culinary ability, now’s an excellent time to help them carve out their independence in the kitchen.

  • Start with some simple recipes that kids of all ages can help prepare.
  • Hold cooking lessons in different environments. For example, teach your kid to use the backyard barbeque or to cook meals on a camping trip.
  • Delegate part of meal preparation to your teen, whether it’s preparing a simple salad or trying a main course like a casserole, meatloaf, or meatless alternative for vegetarian teens.
  • If your teen excels with helping you in the kitchen, they might want to start cooking entire meals on their own. Bonus points if you can get them to prepare food for the whole family once a week.

SheKnows has an article outlining 24 Essential Cooking & Baking Skills Your Teen Should Know. These skills include grocery shopping on a budget, safety, hygiene, and cleaning skills, as well as basic math for cooking and baking. BetterTogether also has a curated list of resources for parents interested in passing on their culinary skills. If you’re not a seasoned chef yourself, there’s also a wealth of blogs and lessons you and your teen can try together!

Not only is learning advanced cooking techniques a great way to prepare teenagers for living independently on campus, but it’s also a way to help them learn other valuable life lessons like time management and the ability to use failure as a stepping stone for success.

Learn a new language

Is your kid desperate to get out of the house to attend college or take a gap year backpacking around the globe? You might be able to interest them in learning a new language! In addition to being a highly practical skill, proficiency in a second (or third) language looks excellent on college and job applications.

  • Duolingo offers free lessons in 23 languages. This app’s fun, game-like lessons are a great place for your teens to start with a new language.
  • There are language learning tools that even the most tech-addicted teens will find engaging, including gamesapps, and podcasts.
  • Don’t forget the wealth of foreign language instruction books that you can order for your kid online if they’re the book-worm type.
  • For those serious about achieving fluency, programs like Rosetta Stone and Fluenz offer more advanced lessons, including live online sessions with language tutors.
  • You could also buy their favourite books in a different language to help them stay interested while learning.

Your teenager will be setting their video games to their new language of choice in no time!

Your child might not have time to commit to learning an entire language. Learning basic essential phrases will be advantageous if they receive future opportunities to travel internationally or enroll in a formal language course at university. Language training is an excellent workout for curious young minds. Your teen will enjoy impressing friends with their new worldly vocabulary skills.

Or just let them play video games and sleep, since that’s what they want to do

There’s something to be said for letting your child take the time they need to rest and recover from the busy, emotionally draining and stressful experience of being a teenager. Nobody can be productive all the time, not even the most energetic and ambitious young people in your life.

While your teen’s sleep schedule may annoy you, it’s important to remember that getting enough sleep is good for overall health and strengthening the immune system. Plus, teens are often chronically sleep-deprived due to the demands of school, extracurriculars, work, and their social lives. Online learning and fewer commitments outside of the home have made it easier for many students to manage their responsibilities, so they can catch up on much-needed sleep.

Like an unhealthy sleep schedule, you don’t want too much time spent playing video games to affect your child’s ability to perform in school. However, in addition to the commonly discussed “dangers of video games,” this popular pastime can also provide your teen with benefits like learning problem solving, perseverance, and teamwork skills.

It’s crucial for teenagers to have more autonomy in scheduling their time than when they were younger. However, that doesn’t mean that your older children can’t benefit from some helpful suggestions on how to spend their time at home wisely. Being bored at home can understandably make teens feel like they’re missing out. However, it’s a privilege to have the time and resources they need to relax, take up new hobbies, and plan for a brighter future.

aha insurance is Canada’s first car and home insurance brokerage to offer a fully online customer experience. Customers can purchase and manage their car and home insurance online in minutes from the convenience of wherever they are. This puts customers in complete control, and control feels great.