Family – Perfect Balance, Balancing School Work with Extracurricular

With the fall school year already looming in the distance, some students are starting to plan out their schedule and deciding whether to play sports or not. If your child does decide to play, no matter what level they are, playing sports takes up a lot of time. Learning how to balance academics, sports, social life and downtime takes major organization
and commitment.

Growing up, my life was pretty hectic and always crammed full with activities. Trying to fit in piano lessons, sports and keeping up with my schoolwork was difficult. It seemed like there were never enough hours in the day. To capitalize on my time, my parents made me stick to a complex agenda and tried to keep me from procrastinating.

You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again. – Benjamin Franklin

A way you can help out is by scheduling your child’s week/month in advance. Set aside practical times to study, practice, train, and meet other obligations. Try to stick to the schedule as best possible, but also allow flexibility because everyone knows – life happens. Sticking to the same routine may at first seem mundane, but by doing so, you’ll find that completing everything on time and on schedule will come more and more easily.

My schedule was very structured in school. Knowing exactly what I was supposed to be doing meant less missed appointments and homework assignments. While some nights I got lucky and didn’t have any homework, when I did, I knew after basketball practice every day, I would be doing that homework – no exceptions.

A good way to begin structuring your child’s days is to have them use the same place to study each day. Make sure it is a place that will encourage your child doing work and doesn’t have many distractions. This will make it a regular part of your child’s schedule and soon will be second nature. Experiment with study and practice schedules and styles until you find the time management techniques that work best your child. If you or your child need help scheduling, a counselor can help map out a good plan.

Also, don’t forget about downtime. If your child is constantly running, working, studying and practicing, they may start to feel burned out. Make sure the schedule includes some time to relax and unwind. Also, to prevent a burnout, make sure your child gets enough sleep. Lack of sleep can be harmful not only to their health but also to their schoolwork and functionality. On the other end of the scale, too much sleep can also cause problems to your child – not exactly health-wise, but time-wise. According to the Mayo Clinic your school-aged child should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Going to bed early and rising early can also be beneficial to a successful schedule.

During basketball season, there were times when I only got four hours of sleep at night. The days following I never seemed to be able to catch up, I was less alert during class and my energy levels bottomed out fast. I learned quickly that sleep is precious and not to abuse it. I learned to finish all my homework during school or on the bus ride to an away game so I wasn’t doing homework after a game when I was worn out and still got to bed at a decent hour.

If you find an area where your child is struggling, don’t ignore it. Make sure they can ask for help if a certain subject is giving them trouble. Get a tutor to help with their studies before their grades start to slide. If a certain skill on the field is giving them trouble, schedule some extra time each day to work on it. Set high expectations for them, but don’t be too hard either. Remember that occasionally, we all drop the ball.

My parents always encouraged me to focus on my studies and always do my best, but they also let me be a kid. It’s important to allow this, especially now a days with kids enrolled in so many activities. Children should be able to have fun, and if they are not enjoying themselves any longer with an activity, don’t force them to continue.

The biggest key to helping out your child is communication. If you see them starting to struggle, talk to them to see if being involved in all activities is right for them. Academics should always be at the top of their list. Remind them they have to maintain their grades to be eligible to play sports and to let you know if they have too much on their plate to manage.

The way my days were structured in elementary, junior high and high school was so successful, I ended up organizing my college days similar. Keeping a detailed calendar kept me on track and helped me not procrastinate. Even today with work, I keep a detailed organizer to prevent me from missing deadlines. Keeping your child’s life in order not only will keep them on track in school, but will point the way to a successful future.`

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