When a kid is in school, they often feel like balancing their social life with the demands of their academic life is almost impossible. Much the same as you probably feel about work, family and your social life too.
Many students find themselves feeling like spending time socializing hurts their academic career and vice versa; they wish they just had more time.However, a balance can be achieved with the time they do have if they learn to be a little more efficient when doing schoolwork, set realistic goals and make their social life feel more fulfilling. And this is where you can help. Sharing these tips with them will be a great start.
Part 1 -Learning to Be More Efficient with Schoolwork
Encourage your child to schedule their schoolwork. Whether it’s their nightly homework, a big project or an exam, it’s important to use a clear schedule to get it all done. They should plan both weekly and daily. The best way to do it? An old-fashioned chart on their bedroom/study wall. Smartphones are cool but notes only stored there are easy for kids to forget.
Teach your child to prioritize their tasks according to their importance and due dates. For example, completing homework for the following day would probably be at the top of the list, while working on a paper due a few days later would be next in line.
Encourage your child to make use of “if-then” planning to build good habits. This type of planning involves using a particular situation or time of day as a trigger for schoolwork. However, it is important to set deadlines as well because using “if-then” planning alone may lead to not finishing those tasks.
If used properly, this kind of thinking is shown to build lasting good habits. Examples of this kind of thinking include:
”If I’m on the bus, I’ll work on my maths homework.”
”If I finish dinner, I’ll start studying for my next exam.”
”If it’s Friday night, I’ll start my homework for next Monday.”
Suggest your child carry some of their pending homework or study materials around with them. As they go about their day, they might find that they have some spare time now and then when they could be working on school projects.
Remind your child to remove annoying – and disruptive – distractions while they are studying. That means no cellphone, no Facebook, no TV. Music is OK, as many students – and non-students – find they work better when their favorite songs are playing in the background.
Part 2 – Setting and Achieving Realistic Goals
Help your child learn to set smaller and specific goals. When they decide to focus on academic achievements, anything less than straight A’s can feel like a failure. Rather than trying to perfect their academic career right away, encourage them to focus on smaller, incremental steps.
For example, if their average in a particular class is 70%, aiming for 90% within a week is simply unrealistic and will put any student under a lot of undue stress. Suggest they aim instead for a 5% increase a week. This will be far easier to achieve, encouraging them to keep going until they reach that final goal.
Inform your child that, in case they had not realized it, if they want to do well in school they won’t be able to socialize every day. Being committed to achieving their best performance in school means they won’t be able to hang out the night before an important test.
It can, however, be hard for a kid, especially a teenager to accept that so many sacrifices have to be made if they want to reach their goals. Therefore it helps to let them know its okay – and encouraged – to set aside a day each week particularly for socializing. Saturday is a particularly good choice: they can stay up later since it’s not a school night, and they will still have Sunday to complete any work that’s due on Monday.
In addition, help them learn how to focus on enjoying their ‘social day’. If they are working hard most of their time they deserve this break and worries about homework and tests and grades can wait for another day.
Part 3 – Developing a More Fulfilling Social Life
Before they start trying to balance their social life with academics, your child should be encouraged to make sure the things that comprise their social life are activities they actually want to take part in.
If they are doing something just because a parent or another friend suggested it, but they find it’s not for them, continuing to do it just to please others is going to make their free time a lot less enjoyable than it should be.
Yes, going to a party is fun, and hanging out at the mall can be fun too (we suppose) But try to encourage your child to pursue some social pursuits that make use of their strengths and talents and engage with their true interests academically as well.
For example, a child who loves art may enjoy taking weekend classes or joining a club, that explores aspects of art they may not in school. Doing so may also be a way to meet seem like-minded new friends to expand their social circle outside the confines of school.
Finally, let your child know that you understand it’s OK for them to just be a kid once in a while. Sure you want them to do as well as possible in school (and they are no doubt well aware of that fact) but all work and no play is bad for any adult, let alone any child.
Yes, you may fail to see the attraction of binge-watching the latest hit show on Netflix with their friends for hours when they could maybe be outside doing something else, but as long as they are keeping up with their work and demonstrating they are committed to doing as well as possible in school, lighten up a little and let them pursue a harmless pursuit like this. They are having fun and hey, at least you know where they are!