By now schools are in full swing and students have settled into a routine. Besides the academic rigors of school, many students are also involved in extracurricular activities. It is important to monitor students with very busy schedules. Parents should watch for signs of fatigue (irritability, excessive eating without being hungry, and lack of energy). Research shows that students involved in extracurricular activities are less likely to cut school, drink or do drugs; however, it is important to have balance. The best suggestion I could give is parents, know your children! You are the best judge of when they have changed. Encourage your student to enjoy all aspects of their life: school, extracurricular activities, friends, family and the one that often gets left out—self. Students should get some quiet time for themselves just to regroup (This includes unplugging from texting, face booking, surfing the web, etc.). This time will help them focus on their likes, dislikes, future plans, or perhaps just rest. A good balance is critical.
Studies for younger children (elementary age) show that children who are fatigued tend to show signs of hyperactivity and their grades drop. Young children need a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night. In my 18 years of teaching, I have noticed that children who lead very busy extracurricular lives often create discipline problems in the classroom and have slightly lower grades.
Parents, remember to ask your child questions ( not grill them): about their day, their friends, likes, dislikes, music, television programs— if you are genuinely interested in their lives, they will be too, thus helping them make better choices. I think as parents we sometimes forget that we can, and perhaps should, find a way to like some of the things our children do, listen to, and watch so we have an avenue to keep conversation/ communication open. Being able to relate to some of your child’s interests doesn’t mean being their friend (they have friends for that). It simply means trying to and being able to understand how and why they think and act like they do.
As the holidays approach, keep children on schedule as much as possible. It’s difficult to enjoy quality family time with tired, irritable children. If children stay up a few hours later, then they should be allowed or encouraged to sleep later as well. Limited snacking is hard to enforce. After all, who doesn’t love to eat great things, especially around the holidays? As it is often said all things should be done in moderation. During the holidays encourage your children to spend time with the family cooking, decorating, playing games, looking at old photos, watching a movie or just talking. In any of the situations, children could be using their academic skills: reading recipes, measuring and creating in cooking, organizing photos, designing with the decorations, reading directions and strategizing during games. Enjoy the holidays with family and friends. Allow children to relax and have fun and remember learning doesn’t always have to come from a book.