Managing Academics, Extracurricular Activities, Jobs, Friends ...It's a Balancing Act!
Dear Moms and Dads,
This month marks the midpoint of summer--already! We hope you are using these summer months to plan your upcoming school year to include academics, extracurricular activities, volunteer opportunities, possible jobs for your teens, and...are you feeling overwhelmed? Well, please don't be. Let's look at ways to include these areas during your year in a manageable, non-stressful way.
Beginning in high school and then continuing throughout adulthood, your child will need to juggle many responsibilities. Time management will help him to be more effective in achieving his goals, to improve performance in academics and activities, and to move from the structured environment of home to one where she will have to manage a variety of schedules and commitments. Learning this skill will also reduce anxiety and build confidence to meet deadlines as your teen looks forward to graduation and beyond.
HELPFUL TIME MANAGEMENT TOOLS
You may agree that this is exactly what you need to do, but don't quite know how to teach this skill. Let us suggest a plan (there's that word again!). The first step is to come up with a task or "to do" list of the jobs, projects, and other activities your teen wishes to accomplish along with his or her academics. The next step is to prioritize these items in order of importance. You will then need to spend time planning and preparing, as well as learning to be efficient and proactive. Lee Iacocca once said, "If you want to make good use of your time, you've got to know what's most important and then give it all you've got."
After a task is completed, your high schooler will have the satisfaction of crossing it off the list which, in turn, will motivate her to go to the next item. If this list looks overwhelming to your child, help her examine her schedule in order to identify changes that will make more efficient use of her time. Also, remind your child that
this list is meant to be a tool--not a source of stress. The list can always be altered if circumstances demand it.
The next useful tool will be a method for tracking activities and providing reminders. Some people use a calendar while others use such devices as a PDA. Still others simply compile a list and keep it in a prominent place. Again, your teen should use the method that works best for him.
The last tool will be you, the parents. Your role will be to encourage and help your child implement these time management skills and then be his or her cheerleader. Remember, time management takes practice. It's not learned in one day or in one year, but is a skill worth developing over the four years of high school. Encourage your child to pray and to seek the Lord's wisdom in both daily and long-term planning. Proverbs 16:3 says, "The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord." (NASB)
For extra suggestions and help, we have some resources for both you and your teen on our Homeschooling Thru High School website at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=4225. In particular, the College Board website provides many good tips and personal time management tools for teens.
Additional helpful resources and information for your child on time management can be found at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=4228 and http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=4229. If you have a child who has learning challenges and may need extra help in this area, check out this site http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=4230.
APPLICATON OF THE SKILL
Now that you have a direction to go in teaching time management, let's consider ways to balance out the academics with the extras. As you and your child are looking at his extracurricular activities along with scheduling time for his friends, a job, sports, or chores, be sure to take into consideration the rest of the family's commitments. The need for transportation to each of these functions will factor into your decision-making and planning. It may necessitate limiting activities in order to accommodate both your child and his siblings' desires for extracurricular activities.
In families with multiple children, consider having several of the children participate in the same activity/sport in order to cut down on the number of activities. For instance, if more than one of your children is taking music lessons on the same instrument, try to schedule the lessons back-to-back so you can minimize your driving time. The child waiting for the lesson could use the time to complete some school assignments. Or, during each season have just one child choose an activity with the rest of the family becoming the cheerleaders as this particular child is spotlighted for a season. Another option is to challenge your teen to find the transportation he'll need for an activity that will not fit into your schedule.
Help your child to choose those activities which will enhance his interests, abilities, and future goals. This is a mark of good time management because he is "killing two birds with one stone"--doing what he enjoys while possibly gaining additional knowledge in one of his academic courses.
We all have the same number of hours in a day but different levels of energy, so do not over-commit to outside activities. Remember to schedule time for both the family and your teen to relax together while having fun. Also be careful your child is not involved in so many extracurricular activities that her academic achievements begin to suffer due to lack of time and energy. Adequate time to sleep, eat, read and study the Word, and enjoy some "downtime" is necessary--so remind your teen to leave room in his day to rejuvenate his body and soul.
Good time management skills will help your home and school to run more smoothly and will lessen the stress of meeting everyone's expectations. The summer is a good time to begin putting these skills to work, so by fall they will be part of your child's routine. If time management has not been one of your own strengths, be encouraged that the Lord is your helper and He is able to provide you with all you need to better manage the hours in each day. Regularly pray each morning and ask the Lord to direct your steps (and your teens'), and then rest in knowing the Lord delights to be involved in every aspect of your day.
Next month we will explore components that make up a solid high school English course--just in time as you put the finishing touches on plans for the next school year.
With joy in serving you,
Becky Cooke & Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators
This resource is an article from the Homeschooling Thru Highschool newsletter (6/29/2007), and is provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association as a service to the homeschooling community.