Some kids love football, others dig drama. As parents, we like to encourage our kids' unique interests and hobbies. It makes us proud to cheer them on in their individual pursuits.
Clubs, sports, music, dance, drama and after-school jobs help our kids become well rounded and socially adept. But when the activities outweigh time spent on homework, grades can suffer. Throw in other distractions like social media, and schoolwork really slides.
How can we help our kids achieve balance with school and their activities?
Put school first
It's important to always teach and show kids that school is their primary responsibility. We can tell our kids, "My job is my employment and taking care of our home and family. Your job is to go to school."
Try to resist whisking your kids from school for a day at the movies or a weeklong vacation. When you treat school attendance lightly, they will too. They'll also fall behind. Having to catch up in class puts kids in a stressful situation.
Calendar your week
At our house, I like to hold a five-minute calendar session every Sunday night. Our family looks at the week ahead, day by day, to note upcoming activities and share schedules.
Putting things on the calendar helps us feel a bit more organized and ensures that time will be carved out for homework.
Multi-task when possible
Have your child read an assigned novel or study a textbook in the car, en route to soccer practice. To help your students memorize material, have them make flash cards. They're easy to transport and study from anywhere. The act of writing out the information helps kids learn the material.
Some school nights are completely crazy with homework and activities. If your kids take their time with their after-school snacks or dinner, pull out a bit of homework so that they can work or study as they eat.
Tell your kids that homework needs to completed before dinner, hanging out with friends or evening extracurricular activities. Help your children schedule their afternoons and evenings to ensure that the homework gets done.
Set a timer and challenge your kids to finish their homework in an allotted time. Motivate them with a reward, like a small treat, if they can beat the clock.
Remove the distractions of looking at Instagram or texting buddies while the math homework sits idly by. Emphasize that removing the electronic gadget isn't a punishment, but a favor. Time away from the iPod won't kill your child; it's actually healthy because many kids are addicted to their handheld devices.
An impressive list of sports and clubs will look great on a college application, but don't lose sight of the forest for the trees. If your college-bound kids' grades are wavering due to time-intense lessons and activities, reevaluate what is most important.
Extracurricular activities enrich our kids' lives. It's nice to have them involved in something outside of school. For kids, a worthwhile activity or two beats having too much idle time on their hands. But it's equally important to ensure that sports or music lessons don't swallow the time that should be spent on schoolwork.