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Top summer learning activities for teens

Sneak learning into your high schooler's summer days to prevent the off-season brain drain.

By Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann

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Recast writing

Strong writing skills are essential — for SAT essays, college applications, college essays, the job world, and beyond — and the only way to develop those skills is to practice.  But  simply telling your teen to write more is unlikely to be effective. Instead, try gearing writing activities to your teen's specific interests.

If your child is into journalism, for example, he can get writing and reporting experience (and maybe earn some spending money) by working with your local Patch. If she's into poetry or songwriting, give her a notebook for her summer creations.

If your teen likes movies, sports, or the great outdoors, anything and everything is fodder for a personal blog (check out these free templates on blogger or wordpress). Or your child can write her autobiography. Using or, she can publish her finished work — photos and all.

Your teen may be more motivated to write if it involves a competition — and a cash prize. You’ll find cool contests at Teen Ink. Teens looking for feedback on their writing can submit a sample to, which gives real-time feedback from an expert. Many libraries have a subscription to the site, which your teen can access with her library card.

Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann is a freelance writer based in Detroit. She has written for  children's health and parenting magazines and blogs about both topics at Mom meets baby.

Comments from readers

"My son is going into the sixth grade this fall, my daughter entering the third. Since they began grade school, I have been buying summer bridge books. I don't force them to do it. Instead, at the beginning of each summer we agree on a prize that each of them will get if they complete each page by the end of the summer (they must work at it little by little, of course). The prize has always been something that I wouldn't buy them on just any ordinary day. This way, they feel that they are being rewarded for their work, and I feel that they are keeping their minds engaged with the least amount of pressure. "
"i woud like information about high school preparation. "
"My son is a high school senior. Since his elementary years, I borrow the following year's math book to review/study over the summer break. The school gladly gives the book with a small not that shows that we borrowed the book. My son, even though he doesn't like the idea,study this book everyday a little. Plus he reads lots of books (he loves books) and age-appropriate articles that I give him. Then he writes a brief reflection(not a summary)for the topic of the article. This way he gets ready for the following year. This way he always keeps his grades very high. This is very important: We start our summer program, especially the math not earlier than June 20. "