Your children’s education is important to their overall development and future success. But while it’s a main priority to excel at the subjects they learn in school, participating in extracurricular activities such as team sports, dance and music  also plays a large part in character building and mental and physical health.

While there are many positive aspects to involving your children in organized activities, it can sometimes be difficult for them to find the balance between keeping on top of homework and aiming to be the next big hockey star of their community.

There is a lot of pressure for your children to perform well in school and when you throw in other commitments into the mix, it’s easy for them to feel overwhelmed and not know how to find a happy median between the two. But this doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Here are five ways to effectively balance school and extra-curricular activities:

Set Homework Times Early

Have your children complete homework the minute they get home. If they put homework off, they risk being too tired to focus and not putting a full effort in.  If practice takes place after school, establish an understanding that any homework will be completed the minute they get home.

Don’t Overcrowd the Schedule

Sports, music and other activities take up a lot of time with practice often occurring after or before school and competitions taking place on weekends.  A recent study also found that children who did not have enough free time had difficulty organizing spontaneous for themselves, they were so accustomed to being told what to do. This is why it’s important not to overcrowd your child’s schedule and consider allowing them to enrol in only one sport or other activity at a time.  You need to ensure your children have enough time for homework, rest and spontaneous play.

Create a Schedule

Sit down with your children and come up with a schedule that you all are happy with.  Create the schedule to include fun time, school time and sport time. By sticking to this schedule and laying out what their responsibilities are, you are helping to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed and taking on too much.

Be Involved

Be involved with your children’s school work and activities. Keep in contact with teachers and coaches so you know when it’s time to focus more on school work and less on optional activities. Or if they’re excelling in school, knowing it’s alright to allow them to take time off for potential out of town tournaments during the week.

Create an Award System

If your children are effectively balancing school and sports, they’re working hard! It’s therefore ok to reward them for all of their efforts. Take them out to lunch or suggest a sleep over with friends to let them know that hard work pays off.

Striking a balance between school and other development opportunites, (whether it be sports, music, brownies/scouts or dance) can be especially difficult if your children are enjoying the that activity more than school work. It’s important to stress that school comes first and extracurricular activities are just that – extra activities. If they understand the importance of academics and can manage both in their schedules, participating in those activities is an excellent opportunity for your children learn new skills, improve self esteem and excel both socially and personally.