If you’re anything like our family, balancing work commitments, school expectations for homework and assessments, physical activity and other church and social life pursuits, some weeks can be VERY intense!  Sometimes anxiety is high, burnout is almost around the corner and emotional fuses are short.  So, how do we navigate these pressures with our children?

I think the first thing is to set positive boundaries with technology.  Perhaps you could establish rules about how technology is used while homework, study or assessment preparation is taking place:

  • Don’t have a mobile device available
  • Turn off social media
  • Don’t play music other than instrumental (preferably classical which stimulates beta waves in the brain)
  • Keep apps only open if needed for the work being engaged
  • Establish a regular space for working that has reduced distractions

In spite of their protests, social media, music and multiple apps open do NOT help study or work focus.  In fact, homework and assessment tasks can take LONGER with all the extra “bits” vying for their attention.  You might even find that having your child out at the dining table doing work allows you to actually see what they’re completing or having trouble with.

Now, as for maintaining balance, I like to think simply.  So here are 5 things to consider in working with your child on their life balance and choices:

1  Keep an up-to-date schedule of due work on a shared calendar app.  It might be via HQ or sharing HQ to family devices.  Putting in family appointments/scheduled events can help too.  You can even put “study” zones into the weekly calendar to help block time for homework or assessment completion.

2  Encourage your child to work ahead (and not procrastinate).  The more work builds, the more intimidating it can get.  Once work has been scheduled or set, help your child start on the tasks and plan an approach to completing it in time.  Sometimes it only takes a few goes together before they start doing this on their own.  If they get a sense of being organised and sorted, rewards feel even sweeter when they can take the weekend off or treat themselves to something special.

3  Get a good night’s sleep.  The best hours are before midnight (so they say) and the thing that frightens me the most is the continuing conversation I hear about gaming into the early hours of the morning by students left, right and centre. These technology habits are setting students up to be behind from the moment they start the day.  Sleep is SO important!  If children really take the time to improve the quality and length of their sleep, their stress levels will go down and they’ll be able to think more clearly and make fewer mistakes in their work.

4  Prioritise their work.  Organise work in a meaningful way based on when assessments and other events are due.  Recurring things like homework and studying are easier to schedule ahead of time, but sometimes assessments can sneak up.  Make sure you are all aware of how different assignments are weighted.  Knowing major works are completed means they don’t have to worry about it hanging over their head, and they can begin to feel more balanced and relaxed.

5  Make time for self.  Whether this means spending time with friends, visiting family, or even just taking a moment to relax on their own, it is important for your child’s well-being to have some time set aside away from school (and work). One of the BEST things children can do for themselves is to get in a regular habit of half an hour of physical activity at least 3 times a week.  What better way to get the endorphins released than a bit of exercise?  Mental health wins too!  And of course, once you have finished important tasks, be sure to find some way to treat yourself and clear your head.

So there you go!  I’m hoping this helps a little in making the remainder of the term and year manageable! Following some simple advice might not melt all their stress away, but it might just help your whole family stay sane while still maintaining a busy schedule!*

*ideas shared from www.wayup.com

Benton Craig
Deputy Principal