It’s just about that time of year, when along with making sure backpacks are filled with enough pencils and completed homework, hockey bags are stuffed with pads and skates for after-school practices and games.
Balancing homework, practices and games can be a challenge for the kids, and the parents. How do we keep them on task?
Brittany Henderson, an academic coordinator at Minnesota State University-Mankato who works frequently with the Division I men’s and women’s hockey teams, said there are two main components in making it all work: using resources and planning.
Every school has resources that are available to help students succeed. Ask questions before tests or on homework, and let someone know if things seem overwhelming when you are juggling the school bag and the hockey bag. And, mom and dad, you should be there to help, too – even if you can’t remember too much of that calculus.
“Really, at any age, it’s about planning,” says Henderson. “Taking a look at the whole picture of what needs to get done and the time that it needs to be done by can help out immensely.”
Once the hockey schedule is all set, it’s time to plan assignments, projects and study time accordingly.
“It’s all about managing your time and planning around it,” adds Henderson. “Once you lock those down, it’s just a matter of sticking to it and getting it all done.”
Some key points to help hockey players have both good grades and good games this season on the ice:
Time Management – Henderson couldn’t reiterate this point enough. Kids take on an extra plate with hockey (or any sport during the school year), so parents should help establish a time management plan that works best for them. Whether it’s a planner, color-coded calendar or reminders and alerts on their smartphone, the best way to successfully juggle activities and school is to make the most out of your time
One Step at a Time – Once you have a time management plan figured out, execute it by doing one thing at a time. If you juggle too many plates at once, one might fall and the rest then could come tumbling down. Crossing off items on your checklist one at a time will help you feel accomplished. As Henderson put it, “you never want to feel too overwhelmed.” If that happens, step back and ask for help.
Study with Friends – Grab your friends/classmates/teammates and start a study group. Sometimes it’s easier to do homework or study in a group setting. It’s also a good chance to learn from one another, be social and have some fun. “It’s a great team bonding thing to do, and helps make sure the work gets done,” said Henderson.
Schedule in Sleep, too! – We’re most effective with a good night’s sleep under our belts. Staying up late getting things done will only burn people out, especially children. Make sure the kids are getting a full night’s rest so they’re ready for school and hockey the next day.
Take a Break –Henderson suggests periods of time where the athletes can take a break and relax. Not only should kids – and adults, for that matter – take frequent breaks throughout the day, they should find time to decompress and unplug from school and hockey. Recharging the batteries is important, for both on- and off-ice performance.
Most importantly have fun with it all. Enjoy being on the ice with your teammates and learning in the classroom and make sure to always put schoolwork first. Don’t forget, it’s student-athletes, not the other way around. Good grades should be a main focus in any sport or extracurricular. You need to study hard before you play hard.