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Balancing School and Extracurriculars

The teenage years for kids and their parents are busy ones. Schedules can fill up quickly. Students have a wide array of choices when it comes to extracurricular activities and academics. Schools are working hard to provide specialized curriculum, sports and clubs that will appeal to a wide number of kids, which is a good thing. But with these extra choices comes time commitment beyond just studying and doing homework. Balancing schoolwork and activities can be a problem for some students.

Most public schools have a pass to play rule. Students must have at least a 70 to participate in extracurricular events like competitions and performances. This puts the pressure on kids to learn to meet deadlines and be aware of their academic standing.

Here are a few tips to help your child succeed in and out of the classroom:

Academics should take precedence over any activity. That might be hard to swallow for an avid basketballer or theatre performer but good grades should be the priority. Teens should talk with teachers, coaches and club sponsors if grades start to dip to develop a plan to bolster that GPA.

Have your student develop a weekly schedule. Actually writing down assignments, practices and meetings in a planner or an online calendar will help with time management planning. This means the weekend may be a time to catch up on homework rather than sleeping in.

Students vying for scholarships and admission into top colleges are pushed to fill their days and nights with AP classes and multiple activities to the point where their stress level is through the roof. Have a discussion with your teen on what really matters to them. Spreading themselves too thin is dangerous to mental health. They should be choosy about which extracurriculars they participate in.

Busy kids do need to take some breaks. For homework, a good rule of thumb is to study for 45 minutes then take a 15 minute break. They should get up, walk around and maybe grab a snack. Having a day during the week with no practice or rehearsals is key. Kids can have the luxury of eating dinner with family, hanging out with friends or playing video games or watching movies. We should not expect our kids to be on and productive 24/7. They need downtime to restore their spirit.

Kids that can learn to manage the rigors of academics and the demands of extracurriculars tend to do very well in college and the working world. Regularly communicating with your teen on how they are doing is ideal because schedules can quickly become overwhelming. Offer support and help when needed.