Homework Tips for Young Athletes

Is your kid about to be sidelined for slipping grades? It’s not uncommon. If you’re not facing it now, you may later. If your child is lucky enough to become a college athlete, they will be surrounded by countless counselors, tutors and mentors. But for now, guess who gets to be your kid’s around-the-clock academic advisor. Yep, you.

These 6 tips can help your young athlete get back on track or start habits that help you avoid academic challenges altogether.

  1. Plan Smart

Integrate academic and sports calendars so that you can pinpoint conflicts early on. It may also help to start a “look ahead” routine. Pick a day of the week – maybe a Sunday – to check out the upcoming week’s calendar and see how busy it looks.

Big game the night before a hard test? Realizing the overlap early can help your family plan study time ahead so your kid is ready for both things at once–without late study nights or panic attacks for you both.

  1. Create Student-Friendly Study Spots

Does your child have a dedicated space to do their homework? Do they have a comfortable, well-lit area to work? Is it in a low-traffic part of your house (so they have fewer distractions)? Do they have the supplies they need? Just getting them to focus can be half the battle. And a great homework environment really helps their focus level.

While we’re on the topic of distractions, make sure you have a common-sense set of rules for TV, laptops and cell phones in the work area. They may need the internet for part of their work, but make sure they aren’t meandering into their favorite social media site or game app.

  1. Check Their Sleep & Nutrition

If your child is a busy student and athlete, make sure to check in on their sleep and eating habits. Not getting enough of either can definitely affect their academic and physical performance, motivation and mood! Making healthy snacks available during study time can boost their concentration. Keeping them hydrated all day helps them go further on the field. These easy fixes can make a world of difference.

  1. Is Your Help Actually Helpful?

This is a tricky one. How much help is too much? Each kid is different, right? Use some common-sense guidelines such as:

  1. Give guidance, not necessarily answers.
  2. Teach them good habits such as the importance of a “to do” list and tackling hard stuff first
  3. Monitor, but don’t micromanage
  1. Keep an Eye Out for Extra Resources

I found a good strategy for one of my own son’s is for him to stay after school a few days a week. The teachers have offered to help anyone willing to stay and ask, so why not take advantage? Sometimes it messes with my afternoon schedule, but it takes some pressure off my child and helps him get his work done on time.

Other ideas include tutors, an app your teacher suggests or other school resources you may discover by asking around to other parents.

  1. Academics Always Win Out

It’s easy to forget, but you have to remember that sports are EXTRAcurricular. If your child gets sidetracked from their studies, don’t be afraid to have them miss a practice or a game. Sometimes you, as the adult, have to make a tough call. But you won’t be sorry you did.

Here’s one of my favorite memories from my days working in the athletic department at the University of Notre Dame. An academic advisor told the head football coach that his star quarterback had to miss practice and report to an extra study hall – just days before facing the nation’s #1 ranked football team on national TV.

Even though he missed practice, the quarterback still helped his team upset the nation’s top team. He also “upped” his academic performance and never got himself in that situation again. Lesson learned.

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