Today’s students face a competitive educational environment; in many cases, they must excel in academics and participate in extracurricular activities to be successful, particularly in high school. Too often, such expectations overwhelm the child and their parents, creating a stressful environment and a predictable opportunity for failure. Even colleges evaluate students’ acceptability for enrollment and a scholarship based on how “well-rounded” they are. These facts present a challenging set of issues for students, delivering good results in both areas without being overloaded.
Now, children have so many choices and opportunities for after-school activities, such as dance, music lessons, sports, and school clubs, that parental guidance is imperative to managing a student’s schedule. Above all extracurricular commitments, however, is a responsibility to schoolwork which sometimes falls to procrastination or a second-level priority. Listed are some suggestions that will help parents and students manage both fun and learning aspects of school:
Set Boundaries and Priorities that are realistic for the entire family
- Based on a student’s academic schedule, decide how many extracurricular activities your child handles each week. Depth of exercise is more important than breadth.
- Budget for the cost of an activity. Students need to understand financial limitations. Collectively select activities with those limitations in mind.
- It is crucial to work within the parent’s schedules and commitments, too. Don’t let the student’s activities interfere too much with the rest of the family’s routine.
- Protect “family time” to ensure other children receive equal attention and the family unit stays intact
Make homework A Precedent To Extracurricular Activities
Establish the principle that if grades fall, activities diminish or stop. It doesn’t do the student any good to be the star football player or the head cheerleader if they fail. Help the student manage academic performance by:
- Setting aside time for study hall at home every day
- Staying in contact with the student about homework and being there to help if necessary
- They are having the child keep a “commitment journal” for schoolwork and activities. Be sure to review it periodically to prevent last-minute surprises. Communicate with their teachers.
Maintain a positive learning environment and a productive activity schedule without overloading the student. Parents can create undue stress by expecting too much.
Select Extracurricular Activities That Serve A Purpose For The Student
- Choose activities that demonstrate a long-term commitment, such as academic clubs, a particular sport, dance, or music.
- Participate in diverse activities that will build character and serve well into adulthood.
- Avoid activities that interfere with study time during school or at home.
Position Yourself As A Support System And Referee
- Divide your time with the child equally between schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Be involved, but stay in balance.
- Foster self-confidence and self-esteem encouraging students to do their personal best without creating an overachiever overwhelmed with stress.
- Make sure the child has enough “me” time set aside in their schedule. All children need some uncommitted downtime to use as they choose.
- Establish yourself as a supporter, not a dictator. Don’t force a student to continue in an activity to suit your wants; switching to something different can be a regular part of growing up as the child learns what they like.
- Ensure that everyone maintains proper health habits. Good nutrition, plenty of sleep, and exercise help relieve stress and fatigue.
Balancing a student’s schoolwork load and participation in extracurricular activities takes a team effort, but everyone has a huge payoff when the plan is successful. The suggestions above will go a long way in helping you create a positive school and activity experience for your child.