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Help Your Kids Balance Sports and School

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When your kids play sports, life as a parent gets pretty crazy. Sometimes we forget that kids have a hard time finding balance between sports and school as well.

Sports are definitely a time and energy commitment, yet their benefits far exceed the disadvantages. Through sports, kids learn cooperation, endurance, dependability, competition, motivation, and teamwork. They also build self esteem and confidence, and help kids develop healthy, active lifestyles.

Yet, the time investment involved in sports can cause our kids to fall behind in school if we're not careful. As a parent, academics are usually number one. The best thing you can give your kids is a well-rounded education that teaches them hard work and its rewards, and gives them a foundation for future careers and interests.

So how do you help your kids balance both sports and school? Here are five suggestions:

1. Limit the number of sports - Many kids who play sports enjoy different kinds. But to avoid year-long chaos, allow your child to choose only one or two sports they enjoy the most. This allows them to focus their energy in a few areas, while enabling time for school work, and lessening the time and financial burden of multiple sports.

2. Reduce extracurricular activities

- Athletes are often good leaders and are naturally drawn to school activities. Yet the time and energy requirements of sports and school can leave kids drained. Talk to your kids about limiting extracurricular school clubs, committees, and leadership and service organizations (at least during sport seasons), to prevent impending burnout.

3. Find time to unwind - Despite their responsibilities with sports and school, kids need to find time to be kids. If your family is always on the go, set aside a day, weekend, or a few hours to simply unwind, play, and relax. Use these times to find balance, reconnect as a family and find the motivation to get back to the grind Monday morning.

4. Stay organized - Between book bags, duffel bags, school shoes and cleats, organization is a priority when your kids play sports. Helping your kids stay organized with their equipment and school supplies - both at home, at school, and in the car - will help them juggle all their activities successfully, and without the stress of clutter. Create separate areas to store their supplies for different activities so they're always in the same place.

5. Discuss homework options - When late-night games keep kids out past bedtime, homework is the last thing on their minds. Plan homework options with your kids so they can complete necessary schoolwork even when their time is short. Discuss options for noise-reducing headphones, completing homework before or after practices, or while on the bus to an away game. If necessary, older kids can talk to their teachers about extended deadlines if school-sponsored sports keep them at away games late.

Finding balance is hard enough as an adult, but it's just as challenging for kids when they're active with both school and sports. Teaching them to manage their time, energy, supplies, and activities will go a long way to finding that balance -- and allow them to find success in both endeavors.

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