One question I get asked most often is, “How do I get my teen motivated and help them find a career path they will love?” Extracurricular activities can contribute to their education as much as formal classes. As a parent, you can guide your teen toward activities that will help them achieve more in college and in the workforce. Consider these ways to help your teen get the most out of extracurricular programs.

What to Look for in Extracurricular Programs

1.    Work as a team. Collaborating with others on common goals is one of the most valuable experiences any young person can have. Being exposed to people from different backgrounds will get them ready to participate in a diverse workplace.

2.    Make new friends. Long term friendships add so much joy and comfort to our lives. The connections your teen makes today could be their future college roommates and companions in old age.

3.    Serve in leadership roles. Leadership takes practice. It’s good to sample what it’s like to take charge of a project before you get your first job.

4.    Find mentors. Extracurricular activities are a great place for teens to connect with adults they can look up to. These interactions supply practical advice and opportunities to build up confidence.

5.    Master new material. Teens may want to supplement what they learn in class. On the other hand, they may decide to explore a whole new field. Ask your teen what subject they wish was taught in school and find a way to help them learn.

6.    Take on challenges. Any extracurricular activity is worthwhile if it helps your teen to grow. They can focus on their own fulfillment instead of worrying about grades.

How to Support Your Teen’s Participation in Extracurricular Programs

1.    Provide encouragement. Be a cheerleader for your teen. Let them know you’re proud of them for giving their best effort. Remind them of their abilities and past accomplishments.

2.    Step back. At the same time, let them make their own decisions as much as possible. Mistakes are educational.

3.    Coordinate logistics. Your teen may need help managing time and transportation.

4.    Arrange financing. Some hobbies cost more than others. Rent a tuba or ask about teen rates at the YMCA.

5.    Be a good role model. Your teen will notice how you spend your free time. Let them see you volunteering, gardening, and hiking.

6.    Allow for unstructured time. Even in the midst of so many demands, free time is essential to nurture creativity and hang out with friends. Set aside quiet time for reflection or anything your teen wants to do.

7.    Avoid overload. Every individual is different but watch for symptoms of overdoing it. If your teen seems depressed or tired, ask them if they’d like to adjust their schedule. Explain that this is evidence of good judgment and the ability to set priorities.

8.    Limit screen time. One of the biggest obstacles to managing time well is setting reasonable limits on phones, televisions, and other electronic devices. Turn the TV off unless you’re watching a special program. Keep track of internet time not related to schoolwork.

A balance of enriching activities will prepare your teen for a happy and successful future. Show them how to use their free time to develop their skills and form meaningful relationships.

Want more guidance with helping your teen prepare for their future and finding a career they will love? Set up a complimentary strategy session to discuss your teen’s interests, needs, and how to get on the right path.