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A few tips to help your busy student balance school and life

By November 23, 2018 November 30th, 2018 Student Community

About  57% of students between the ages of 6–17 participate in at least one extracurricular activity.

Participating in activities outside of school certainly has its value. It helps your Elite student discover talents and passions while learning important traits like being on a team and pushing themselves beyond what they believed possible. If your high schooler is working part-time, that not only earns them extra cash, it teaches time management and budgeting.

School is the first priority. Obtaining good grades opens the path to a much brighter future.

With school requiring at least 30 hours every week, balancing that with a time-demanding activity (including a part-time job) can get overwhelming. But balancing school with other life activities is completely manageable. All it takes, really, is scheduling and discipline.

Easier said than done, of course.

But it certainly can be done. To help our moms of busy students, Elite faculty and staff members have compiled some tips and tricks to balance school and life.

Tip 1: Eat Well and Get a Good Night's Rest

Keeping a teen on an “early to bed, early to rise schedule” is at times nearly impossible. But whenever you can encourage your student to rest and help them eat healthily is key. Sometimes it may just be helping them prepare snacks in advance. For ideas on easy healthy snacks, check out this post.

As Cheif Academic Officer Ms. Meghan Freeman said:

“Living a healthy lifestyle can help you manage the stress of school and work.  Adopt these healthy habits to stay energized for your busy schedule:”

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat less sugar and processed foods.
  • Drink more water and fewer sodas.
  • Get between 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night.

“Balancing my life begins with sleeping and eating” – Ms. Karen Makkai, flex director

“Sleeping-n-eating affect EVERYTHING. So I have blackened my bedroom windows and have relaxation music ready to go before I go to sleep,” said Ms. Makkai. “Also, I don’t eat after 6 p.m. so that my body is actually resting instead of digesting a heavy meal.”

Eat lunches that will help your body 

“For me, life is so busy, I keep cases of my favorite healthy foods in my refrigerator so I can grab-n-go. I find if I make the healthy foods as convenient as junk food, I’m a lot more likely to stay healthy and keep my energy.”- Ms. Makkai.

Tip 2: Find a Job That Will Be Flexible With School

We said it once, we’ll say it again, education is the first priority. There are some activity leaders who will not work with your schedule; they will try to schedule you as many hours as possible. Avoid those if possible. There are plenty of other leaders, coaches and employers who want your child to do well in school. As  Virtual Director Ms. Ashlea Kirkland-Haynes said:

“To avoid being overwhelmed with too many responsibilities, you should let your manager, advisor or coach know that you can work no more than 10–15 hours per week.”

Being upfront and honest with your schedule before you’re hired will prevent many tough situations since you’ve made your schedule clear.

This is also where Elite comes has a huge advantage.

Students who enroll with Elite have the option to additionally enroll in a few different enrichment programs. These include:

If your child is aspiring in one of these fields, it makes sense to have it built into school. Not to mention your child will have funds to help with the costs of these programs.

Learn more about these programs here.

Tip 3: Set a Schedule

One of the most important aspects of balancing high school responsibilities and a part-time job is scheduling your daily tasks.

Get a planner or find an app 

“Invest in a daily planner or use an app on your smartphone to schedule your daily responsibilities,” said Ms. Freeman. “This includes study hours, work hours, project due dates, social time, etc. Avoid conflicts by planning your schedule as far ahead as possible.”

Be realistic in your planning

“I tell my independent study students to be real with your schedule,” said Ms. Kirkland-Haynes. “If you only have two nights each week to work, then realize you will need to complete approximately three lessons each night you work.  Plan to complete approximately seven lessons each week!”

Tip 4: Separate School, Activity and Free Time Whenever Possible

Generally, daily routines can be separated into three categories: School, extracurricular activites and free time.

Try to keep the three separated in order to help your brain transition from task to task. This can be as simple as having separate locations for each place. Work is the simplest one. Wherever you work is your designated location.

Free time and school time are a little different. Since you are an online student, you can study anywhere. But to help your brain focus, try not to do schoolwork at places where you usually relax, like the couch or your bed. Instead, create a designated workspace.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t make your workspace fun! In fact, we encourage you to incorporate some of your favorite items in your workspace. This will help your brain make positive associations with your schoolwork, so you don’t dread working so much.

“Once you know your work days, choose the LARGEST CHUNK of time to complete your online work,” said Ms. Kirkland-Haynes. “Flush your body with healthy food before sitting down to work. Consider placing your favorite drink, candles, music, pictures, blanket near your computer –  It’s time to camp out online!!”

When you’re finished with schoolwork and ready to relax, go to a new place. Head to the couch in the living room, your bed or head somewhere fun.

Tip 5: Help your teen learn to use free time wisely

Yes, earlier, we said to keep work and school separate.

But we also recognize that participating in outside activities means a lot less free time. Whenever free time is encountered, the temptation is to just relax-or sleep! Allowing your child to take time to relax is important, and they should set aside time to do so.

But it’s also important to make sure you use free time wisely. And sometimes that means finding small times throughout the day that you can focus on homework–even if only for 15 minutes.

Time management is key

“As they balance school responsibilities and life, students will learn time management,” said Ms. Makkai. “They learn to take any free time throughout the day to complete reading assignments or homework.”

For example, maybe your child works a part-time job with a lot of downtime on your shift. Encourage them to ask their boss if they’d be able to do homework during those times. Some bosses won’t be OK with it, but many will be.

Or, maybe your teen is a night owl who prefers studying during quiet hours.

“Has your student ever thought about getting up in the middle of the night OR  early in the dark morning to work online?  This can be a quiet time without distractions and the computer network will be faster too,” said Ms. Kirkland-Haynes. “Just rub your eyes and type!”

Tip 6: Use Your Support System

This might be the most important tip.

You know your child has people in their life who want to help them succeed. Utilize their support as you figure out balancing high school and life.

“Students: Discuss your schedule school and work schedules with your family,” said Ms. Freeman. “Your family will be able to assist you in creating a schedule that supports both school and work. They may also be able to help you determine how many hours you are able to work each week to allow you to maintain your responsibilities for school.”

Whether you have a supportive family or not, you do have guidance counselors and teachers readily available to your teen at Elite. Your guidance counselor and advisor’s jobs are to help your student succeed academically. If you feel you need support, don’t hesitate to contact your counselor.

You should also notify your teachers of your child’s schedule. That way, you can get help in scheduling your projects, online sessions and other assignments.

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