Congratulations, you have made it to June and summer is here – finally! This year has been a tough one, and likely you are looking forward to a few weeks of break from the stress and uncertainty of this past school year. Hopefully, September will bring back classrooms, friends, field trips and extracurriculars – so what can you do to prepare yourself, and make sure you are in good shape to tackle the new school year with a fresh, motivated mindset?
Tip #1 - Relax!
This may seem a bit silly, but I have too often worked with students who have jammed their summer full of activities, classes and plans – leaving them no room to unwind and give their brains (and bodies) the rest they deserve. Make sure to give yourself a minimum of one completely unscheduled week – seven full days of pure, absolute nothingness. Your brain has worked hard this year, more so than any other school year most likely, as you have had to not only navigate this new world of online learning but also manage the feelings of stress and anticipation that have come along with these sudden changes. Give yourself a chance to recuperate, to slow right down and take a breath.
Take this time to treat yourself, a small reward to yourself for getting through this year. Whether it be something small, like finally allotting yourself some time to sit and read that book that has been calling your name since the winter, or taking the afternoon to walk along the boardwalk with friends and iced coffees, do something to reward yourself for getting through an incredibly intense year!
Tip #2 - Passion Projects!
Summer is the perfect time to work on some of your passion projects – those hobbies or side projects that truly invigorate you, but that you have very little time for while school is in full swing. Use these two months to let yourself dive deep into whatever your project is – knitting a sweater for yourself to keep warm next winter, doing some video editing, doing some creative writing, or volunteering for a cause that is important to you – whatever it is that inspires you, and makes you feel energized, take some well deserved time to dedicate to that!
Tip #3 - Volunteer!
In the middle of the school year, with assignments, tests and presentations piling up, it can be hard to find time to collect those required volunteer hours. The summer is the perfect time to catch up – there are a number of different sites, my personal favourite is volunteertoronto.ca, that let you find a wide variety of opportunities near you. Last summer was quite short on opportunities, but this summer you will likely find that there are many places looking for young, energetic and passionate volunteers just like you!
Think about volunteering as interviewing different careers – not sure what you want to do with your life? Try it out as a volunteer! You may get the more basic tasks as a volunteer, but you will get to meet the people who have dedicated their lives to these careers – take this time to ask them about how they got to where they are, what they like (and dislike) about their field, and ask for any suggestions they may have!
Tip #4 - Learn!
So you have taken the time you need to rest and relax, you have put aside some time for your passion project and you are volunteering at a local organization once a week. What do you do with the rest of your time? Summer provides an excellent opportunity to learn a new skill, so take that opportunity! Whether it be a practical skill – learning guitar, how to cook, Photoshop skills or improving your soccer game, or an intellectual skill – improving your knowledge of physics, becoming a better writer, or learning about Indigenous history, this is your time to dedicate to expanding your horizons and learning more about the world around you.
Taking an online high school course can be an excellent idea for many students – the elective that you just couldn’t fit into your schedule, or getting a head start on Advanced Functions or English 12. You can use your more flexible summer schedule to really let yourself focus on one of your high school credits, and put the time and energy into it that you know you will not be able to afford during the school year with other courses on the go!