Almost every kid plays sports during their childhood. I remember growing up at the baseball field where we played for over a dozen years. I made many friends there and learned a lot about life. But sports require a commitment from kids that may affect their schoolwork. I’ll open with some benefits and concerns about sports and school. Then I’ll give you nine ways to reduce the impact that sports may have on grades.
The fitness and wellness benefits of sports are numerous. The heart-healthy workouts that sports provide are obvious. Muscular strength and coordination is improved. Sports also have a positive impact their flexibility and balance. As children move into junior high and high school teams, they learn healthy nutrition principles related to their sport.
Another benefit of sports is that children learn discipline and teamwork. They learn to win gracefully and to accept defeat. Involvement in sports looks good on a college resume. And star athletes can receive scholarships from their sports activities.
For a child to remain involved in school-sponsored sports, they must maintain their grades. Proposition 48 introduced the requirement that high-school athletes meet certain standards to play at the college level. Virtually every school district in the nation adopted these standards and imposed them on their athletes at all grade levels. So, kids have to make the grade in order to play.
The primary impact of sports on school is in the time required. Recreational league sports are fairly manageable. However, as your child gets older they might want to play in a travel league. This extends that sport’s season past the normal end date. Membership on school teams requires even more time for practice and training. Eventually, a single sport can become a year-round activity. Often, grades suffer when time runs short.
So, in order to reduce the impact of sports on academics, here are nine tips for parents:
- Set priorities. Parents need to agree that school comes first.
- Involve the child in decision making. Make sure that they know the priorities. Give them a voice to choose which sports they will play.
- Manage their commitments. If a child starts a sport, it builds character for them to complete the season. Help them keep their obligation to the team.
- Keep a family calendar. Practice and games will eat into your free time. Putting everything on a calendar that everyone can see will help. Carve out time for homework.
- Build in margin. Kids need time to be kids. Don’t fill up every single hour with an activity.
- Be intentional about homework. Set aside a regular time each day to get it done.
- Communicate with teachers. Let them know the child is playing sports and that you need to know if grades begin to suffer.
- Be realistic. Your child likely will not become a professional in their sport. World-class athletes spend years paying their dues in practice and training. Don’t kill their dreams but be sure to keep it fun.
- Follow through. All of the previous steps work together. Reward kids for managing this well and correct them when they don’t.
Application Question – What other steps have you taken to ensure your child’s success in sports and school?