Manage Schoolwork and Sports

Teach time management by helping kids handle school and sports commitments.

Teen girl doing homework at table
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Especially if your child is on a travel team, it's tough to balance the competing commitments of schoolwork and sports. And there are no easy solutions. But helping your child learn to meet his deadlines and manage his time brings lifelong benefits, so look at this challenge as an opportunity.

Plan It Out and Write It Down

A calendar is critical. For many kids (and adults!), a large paper calendar works best.

But if your child is motivated by electronics, then a calendar app may be the way to go; this also gives you the option to set alarms and reminders. Whatever the format, designate this calendar for all of your athlete's events and deadlines, both athletic and academic.

Now you have a reference point for discussions about what's due when and how to fit it in. This is the perfect time to learn how to break large projects into smaller parts, and how to create a weekly routine for recurring assignments. Teachers also appreciate getting plenty of notice if students will be absent and need to reschedule a test or submit a project early.

Ask for Help

Not every teacher will be understanding about absences or missed deadlines. But it's worth having a conversation at the beginning of the school year, or sports season, about what's coming. When my daughter had a concussion, she needed to limit screen time and couldn't use her school-issued laptop for class work and assignments.

Her teachers agreed to print them out on paper for her. Similarly, when she travels with her sports team, she doesn't always have Wi-Fi to access her assignments and work-in-progress. So she needs to either do the work ahead of time or make alternate arrangements with her teachers. Doing so in advance is essential.

Find Time

Your student can't do everything on school evenings. It's just not possible with sports practices and other extracurriculars, plus dinner and adequate sleep (see below). So make sure he is taking advantage of other available time:

  • During school. Include a study hall or free period in his schedule if at all possible, and make sure he uses it wisely! In addition to doing homework or studying, he may be able to make up in-class quizzes, assignments, or missed classes during this time.
  • Weekends. It's tempting to fill up weekend hours with sleeping in and socializing, but your athlete may need to sacrifice some of these in favor of schoolwork.
  • At practice. Your child may have 15-20 minutes of free time before or after practice (say, while waiting for the bus). Again, he'll likely be tempted to fill this time hanging out with teammates or playing games on his phone. But in 15 minutes he could read a chapter of a book or do some math problems and be ahead of the game.
  • On the road. Not every kid can do homework in a moving vehicle, but travel time can be a real gift to a busy kid! At your destination, there is often downtime between games at a tournament or events at a competition. Ideally, the coach or team manager will suggest or even require that kids use at least some of this time for schoolwork.

    Don't Skip Sleep

    Sufficient sleep is critical for your child's health and her success on and off the playing field. An hour of extra sleep at night can mean higher grades, "improved alertness and mood," and fewer medical appointments, says the National Sleep Foundation. The occasional late night is probably inevitable, but your child should do her best to get enough sleep each night. Limiting late morning lie-ins on weekends helps her stick to a sensible weekday sleep-wake schedule.


    Balancing School, Homework, and Sleep for Your Teen. National Sleep Foundation, accessed June 2015.

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