You may have read about the research that clearly shows that youth who participate in sports perform better academically. This all sounds great until a young teen tries to navigate balancing this sport or sports with the day-to-day school work and other activities.
For some, it may mean heading to an away game right after school and not getting home until 9:00 pm or later a couple nights a week, plus practice on the off nights. Throw in other obligations such as a part-time job or church involvement, and it can easily become overwhelming!
Here are three ways our family encourages a positive balancing of sports and school work:
Use Every Spare Minute of the Day
If practice doesn’t start until 4:30, my high school student rushes home to accomplish as much as he can in an hour’s time. This time could be spent relaxing at home, hanging out at school waiting for practice to start, or other hobbies, all of which are important, but at the end of the day, my student always feels less stressed once he’s gotten a head start on that evening’s homework.
I talk with my kids every day about what they’ve got going on. Whether it’s an upcoming test or project, or a simple math assignment due the next day, I encourage them to look ahead to what is due the entire week. If they know they have an especially busy or light night, they can readjust the amount of work they pair up with that particular evening.
My middle school and high school students both keep a planner with every assignment and upcoming event, so it’s easy to look ahead and see what could be knocked out or put off on any given night. It also works well with the dreaded weekend homework.
While it isn’t always necessary, it’s a tradeoff, and often times makes the week nights much more bearable.
Sometimes, it comes down to priorities, and sleep is pretty high up there at our house. When we get home late in the evening, and one of my kids is physically exhausted from the week, sleep comes first. We fully support a good night’s sleep with an extra early wake up call. This often means a more productive and timely study session.
Just when my family thinks we have our schedule all ironed out, the season changes! We move from soccer and cross country to basketball to track. We feel like we are on a never ending cycle of fitting all these pieces into the big picture.
With lots of communication and planning (life skills that are absolutely essential for navigating life as an adult), our schedule works much better, and somehow we manage to get it all done, look back and think... what was the big deal?!
That was FUN!!