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After School Activities and Academic Struggles: Tips to Manage Both

Has your family experienced difficulties with trying to balance extracurricular activities and academic struggles? After school activities offer many benefits, but they're a particular bugbear for kids with learning differences or behavioral issues, who may find it particularly hard to make smart decisions when it comes to prioritizing grades or sports. With this guide, learn some ways you can manage both your child's condition, and his extracurriculars.

Discuss Reasonable Scheduling

Some kids who want to do extracurricular activities are already over-committed. Have your child find out exactly how much time his desired activity will require each week, and on which days of the week it takes place. Remind your child of other commitments, such as sessions with a tutor or a neurobehavioral specialist, as well as allotted time for homework each evening. Then, help your child decide whether adding this particular activity is a good idea.

Sometimes, a compromise may be in order. A child who wants to sign up for drama club, but can’t participate in rehearsals four times per week, might instead take less time-intensive acting classes at the local community center.

Make a Contract

Balancing extracurricular activities with academic struggles is often a matter of prioritization. If your child wants to sign up for a new activity, you could each sign a written contract that will specify your academic expectations for the semester. If your child wants to continue with the activity, he or she will need to meet these expectations. It's also important to remember that movement drives cognition, and after school activities that encourage the development of gross motor skills can actually help academic performance in the long run.

Provide Time Management Tools

Time management can be challenging for children, especially when they have ADHD. Adding a reasonable amount of extracurricular activities to your child’s schedule may actually help him develop good time management skills. Your child will learn that if he wants to go to softball practice, homework must be done first. Some tools can help your child, such as a homework planner. Additionally, you can post a large wall calendar in your child’s room with the schedule for all of his commitments.

When it’s time for homework, kids with ADHD in particular may have difficulty maintaining their focus. It may help if they focus not on completing a certain amount of work, but on working for a certain amount of time. Give your child a timer and run it on work/break intervals. It can be set at 20 minutes for homework time, after which your child can set the timer for a five-minute break. This approach can help your child maintain good study habits for years to come.

If your child is struggling academically or has been diagnosed with a Learning Disorder, contact us online or find a center near you to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help.

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