Getting Ahead of the Game: Balancing Your Student Athlete’s School and Sports Schedule

Getting Ahead of the Game: Balancing Your Student Athlete’s School and Sports Schedule

Many families struggle to find a balance between their child’s academic and athletic schedule. It’s easy for school projects and homework to get lost in the shuffle of practices and game days. Stay organized this school year with tips from coaches and parents on how to help your child excel in the classroom and on the field.    

Sync Your Calendars
Technology makes it easier than ever for your family to stay connected. For older children with smartphones, consider utilizing a calendar app. Have each family member fill in their responsibilities at the beginning of the week or month.

“Use it to its fullest potential,” says Peter Eckendorf, Lake Ridge Academy athletic director and head girls’ soccer coach. “Add practices and games. Use notifications and reminders to manage your time and everything that’s going on in your life.”

For younger children, try a magnetic dry-erase board on the refrigerator and use a color code system for each child or event. Having your child fill out their portion of the calendar is a great way to teach them how to plan ahead.

Get Into a Routine
Your schedule may vary from week to week, but try to maintain certain routines where you can. Developing routines and habits at an early age will help your child become more independent down the road.  

“We have routines and that’s key for us and for my kids,” says Coshell Boustani, mom of two boys who play multiple sports. “Now that our kids are older they know what to do.”

Additionally, having consistency at home with things like meals and sleep can make a big impact on your child’s mood and health.  

“If they’re healthy and eating properly and well rested, they’re going to be performing in the classroom and on the field at a higher level and they’ll be happier and more positive and less likely to be grumpy,” says James Doyle, Hawken School athletic director and father of two teenage student athletes.  

Be Organized and Plan Ahead
“Before we even start practices, we talk to the kids about getting organized and making plans well in advance so when the season starts, it’s not a shock to their system,” says David Blue, teacher and head coach for Hudson Explorers Lacrosse.  

Whether it’s study tables, free periods at school or travel time in the car or on the bus, encourage your student athlete to make the most of their free time. Doing a little work here and there will allow them to have more time to unwind at the end of the day.   

Seek Help if Grades Start to Slip
Student athletes are required to maintain a certain grade point average to play on school teams. If you notice that your child’s grades are slipping, see if your child’s teacher offers tutoring or has extra work to practice the subject.     

Coaches know that school comes first. Let your child’s coach know ahead of time if your student needs to miss a game or practice to catch up on schoolwork.

“If you have to study for a big test, I understand,” Eckendorf adds. “We’re a tough school. Sometimes you can’t get around it and you need extra time and that’s totally ok.”   

Make Friends with Fellow Parents
Check in with your child’s coach to arrange a carpool, or partner up with a fellow parent and offer to take turns shuttling kids to and from games and practices.

“Ask for help when you can,” Blue adds. “No one wants to sit at a youth practice for two hours and then find out that the neighbor is there, as well.”

You also can see if an aunt, uncle or grandparent would like to help out.

Plan Downtime
Kids and their parents need time to relax and recharge. Try to leave some flexibility in your schedule so your family can participate in other activities that you enjoy.

“Sundays are usually our free day, we try to keep it open and we try to have some special time,” says Boustani. “Sometimes that just means staying in and not leaving the house.”

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