Finding the balance between sports and academics
Rohan threw his school bag on his bed, freshened up and grabbed an apple, lifted his cricket kit and stormed out in a hurry. This took a total of 10 minutes while his mom parked the car and was catching up with the friend next-door.
“Keep drinking water, play well and come back as soon as the practice……..” The elevator shut by the time she could complete her instruction.
This was a daily drill for Rohan and he shook his head while battling with a series of emotions.
- My parents are great, but why do they always tell me what to do? It stresses me out.
- Why does mom keep a tab on every minute of mine? She is over-scheduling me though I know that she wants me to focus on studies too.
- It is like I’m never quite good enough; I can’t fully please my parents, either in sports or studies.
Rohan’s mom has her own set of thoughts:
- By the time he is home, he will again be too tired to finish his homework.
- What if he doesn’t turn out to be a good sports person and lags behind in studies too?
- I hope he understands one day, that I am doing this for his own good!
Many children (and parents) go through similar emotional turmoil on a daily basis while trying to balance studies and sports. Chasing school project deadlines, finishing home - work and keeping up with studies are the most strenuous forms of exercises that many students engage in while passionately honing their sports skills. "The mind wanders when doing essays, but if you develop a focus and use your time efficiently then it's a very transferable skill," says Stephen Baddley, Director of sport at the University of Bath. It had boasted 25 student competitors in 2014 Commonwealth Games. (Trivia: If Bath University was a country, it would have ranked 11th overall in the same year).
There are many research findings which highlight that children dabbling with both sports and academics are better focused, as discipline, concentration, and time- management learnt through sports come handy. A research study conducted on Slovak athletes, strived to gain an understanding of the athletes’ attitudes towards education as well as perceived difficulties and supporting elements in pursuing dual career. The athletes experienced dual career as manageable as long as they were assisted, were provided with flexible arrangements and were supported by parents and peers (Geraniosova et al., 2014).
Giving Physical Education and Sports the requisite weightage in the school curriculum is not an easy task and the stakeholders (school principals, parents etc.) take time to accept sports at par with academics for their children. Often, having students involved in extracurricular activities like sports can pose a catch-22 situation as the benefits of sports for students comes with the demand for their time, thus sacrificing the time meant for “academic rituals.” Finding a balance between sports and academics is essential for the modern student, and our EduSports’ programs and coaches along with the teachers and parents can play a pivotal role in providing the required support.
Varsha Varman, a member of the Indian Shooting Team is gunning for the Olympics while balancing her academics at the prestigious Harvard University and she vouches that studies and sports go together for her. “I have found that I perform better when challenged to my maximum, and that comes through pushing myself in both Sports and Academics,” says Varsha. She acknowledges that her alma mater, St. Joseph’s Co-Ed School, Bhopal, played a great role in identifying her field of interest and shaping up her goals. Varsha Varman is one such emerging champion who has found her balance!
The balancing act:
By introducing and implementing time-saving tips and their staunch support, parents, coaches and teachers can aid in finding the balance, not only in school and on the playing field, but in life.
1. Help them to prioritize: As with everything else in life, help the child to first make a list of her priorities. If her interest in sports is as strong as her interest in academics, then establish that she would have to give up on watching her favorite TV program and other things so that she has ample time to complete her homework and her academics do not take a backseat. For e.g., if there's a test tomorrow and this afternoon's team practice isn't critical, may be that extra time can be utilized to study. However, if there's an important athletic event the next day, studying can be postponed for the following night.
2. Help them in planning: Guide your child to get a grip on his time table or course schedule and help him answer the questions as he plans:
- How many hours will you need to finish your task?
- Can you catch up with studies during breaks or while travelling?
- Will you have enough free time to participate in other activities?
- There are some useful tools like a hard copy Planner or time management app to help him map out his sports and study schedule.
3. Communicate and engage with them: While maintaining the importance of sports, help your child to develop positive attitudes toward school and learning. Talking and listening play major roles in children's school and sports success. Allow them to believe that they have a scope to commit mistakes and praise them when they deserve it; it will keep him motivated. Help your child answer questions that invariably bothers him:
- How much is too much? Have I set high standards of achievement or am I setting unreasonable expectations?
- What should I enroll for and still balance academics and extra-curricular activities?
4. Watch out for the warning signs: Sometimes balancing sports and academics becomes too difficult for the children even if they are willing to stretch themselves. Encourage them to take breaks, from both studies and sports as it is also important for children to have unstructured time to just be kids. Get alerted and save the children from burn- outs if you come across signs such as:
- Sudden drop in grades.
- Lack of motivation or poor attitude in the sport.
- Making excuses to skip practice or school.
- Physical illness when it's time to participate in the sport.
At their core, sports are fun for children but if the children stop having fun, it's time to re-evaluate whether they should consider a new sport or stop altogether.
Striking the right balance between academics and sports can be a thorn in the flesh and would require a team approach to achieve it. With the right help, guidance and communication from all parties involved, children can benefit from playing a sport, while still enjoying a quality academic experience by prioritizing their interests and steering their lives in the right direction.
If there were to be a competition between sports and academics, one would acquire organizational skills worthy of any professional manager through sports while academics would help in shaping up the fundamentals of one’s lifelong knowledge base.
Balancing sports and academics is difficult, but it is possible. And it is worth it! After all, one should rather look back and say, “I can’t believe I did that” instead of saying, “I wish my life had interesting stories to tell.”
#LetTheChildrenPlay #SportIsEducation #PhysicalEducation #HolisticEducation
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Colorincolorado.org: http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/twenty-ways-you-can-help-your-children-succeed-school [Accessed 13 June 2016].
Geraniosova K., Ronkainen N. (2014). The Experience of Dual Career through Slovak Athletes’ Eyes. Available from: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/pcssr.2015.66.issue-1/pcssr-2015-0005/pcssr-2015-0005.pdf [Accessed 20 June 2016].
Gil N. (2014). Do athletes make better Students? Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/aug/04/sport-at-university-do-athletes-make-better-students [Accessed 13 June 2016].
Goodes J. (2014). Tips for helping teens balance school and sport. http://breakingmuscle.com/family-kids/tips-for-helping-teens-balance-school-and-sport [Accessed 19 June 2016].
Greatschools.org (2016). 5 ways to help your child focus. http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/helping-kids-focus/ [Accessed 13 June 2016].
Healthline.com (2013). What’s a healthy balance between school and sports? http://www.healthline.com/health/whats-healthy-balance-between-school-and-sports# [Accessed 20 June 2016].