By Tim McCann (Regional Franchise Manager, JEI Learning Center)
When I was in school, it was often challenging to find the right balance between academics and extracurricular activities. On one hand, there were my teachers and parents expecting me to complete every assignment, and on the other hand were the expectations of coaches and other trainers: meetings and lessons, hours of practice, preparing for the big event... To alleviate stress and anxiety, students need a healthy balance between the two. After all, colleges are looking for students with not just academic excellence, but with a well-rounded background in teamwork and leadership skills.
To head the imbalance off at the pass, first develop a schedule that accommodates both class assignments and added activities. Grades are paramount as students move into high school and college, but time spent participating in the arts or sports will mean staying fit, both mentally and physically. When creating this schedule, be sure to allow for more academic work than extracurricular, but also build in enough breaks to prevent loss of attention span or physical burnout.
Be careful, too, when choosing between all those extracurricular activities. I wouldn’t advise attempting every activity under the sun, as I myself had tried to do. Instead, weigh the benefits of each. Sit down with your child and discuss which activities seem most attractive to him or her. Then create a list of their pros and cons. Consider, for instance, whether that sport, or piano lesson, or spot on the debate team is something that fits in with whatever field they would like to go into (even if that changes a dozen times over the years).
It may seem obvious, but setting goals and meeting them—both academically and in extracurricular activities—is a key to your child’s future success. That being said, make sure that the goals are realistic; if a goal proves unattainable, it can lead to a self-consciousness that may prevent further effort. If this has happened before, have a talk with your son or daughter about taking on too much, rather than dwell on it as a personal failure.
Finally, it’s important to allow children the time to do whatever they truly enjoy doing, whether that be riding a bike, watching a favorite TV show, or just hanging out with a friend. In the long run, these little escapes can have big benefits physically, mentally, and academically. Again, it’s about balance. Remind your go-getter to hang in there.