The rigors and responsibilities of student life can take their toll on our kids. Sometimes, especially when teenagers are involved, those overwhelming emotions can roll over onto the rest of the family as well! Between applying themselves to academics, participating in athletics, serving in student leadership, and attending social activities, the balance of it all can feel like it’s resting on a very fine point, ready to tip at any moment.
To ensure that you and your family maintain a healthy life balance, here are a few key points to remember as you help your student-athletes navigate through another year of academics and athletics.
ORGANIZATION IS KEY.
If you only remember one point from this article, make it organization. Since every brain processes information differently, you may need to experiment with what sticks for you, but when you find what works, use it. It may be a digital calendar on your smartphone with voice alerts reminding you of practice and game times, or it may be a physical monthly calendar hanging on your living room wall with color-coated entries so that every member of the family can see what is happening and when.
Make sure your calendar not only includes athletic information but also when tests, homework assignments, and projects are due, what social events are coming up, along with the fun stuff, like birthdays and holidays.
The trick with organization is that once you organize yourself, then you need to teach it to your children, especially if they are in middle or high school. They need to have an organizational system of their own to practice keeping track of their schedule in preparation for the years to come. You are not going to be there in college or adulthood to keep everything running smoothly for your grown child, so the earlier they can learn to be organized the better.
USE EVERY MINUTE.
Time management is one of the most valuable life skills our students can learn, and the sooner they grasp it the more beneficial it will be for them. Encourage your student-athlete to use travel time or sitting at a sibling’s practice to catch up on reading or quizzing through some flashcards. Weekends are also prime time to get caught up on late work or to work ahead, especially if the upcoming week is going to be packed full of games and practices. This is where it can be challenging to teach our children the value of looking ahead and planning accordingly, because oftentimes they may make the choice to spend their time elsewhere.
Encourage your student-athlete to make use of any free periods and study halls available to them during the school day. This is essentially free time given to them to complete their homework and studies so that their actual free time when they get home is their own. When no time is wasted there is plenty of time to go around.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS.
Teaching your student-athlete to know their limits is a crucial part of finding a healthy balance. Pushing themselves too hard will result in being overstressed, overworked, and it may cause them to want to give up the very things they once loved. Keep communication open and always be ready to listen when your child needs to talk or express their frustrations. Talk with your children about setting realistic expectations for their academics and athletics, and then assist them in reaching those goals.
Students can succeed at both academics and athletics, especially when they have the support of their parents, coaches, and teachers all working together to help them succeed. It is normal for there to be challenges along the way, just as it is normal to expect great victories and triumphs as well. Student-athletes and their families should remember that it takes a healthy partnership of staying organized, good time management, and realistic expectations to keep it all balanced.