When your child's grades slip, use their love of sports to sharpen their focus

jonbuzby@hotmail.comOctober 21, 2012 

Your son or daughter is having a great season on the field, but when the midterm report card arrives home from school, you quickly realize that off the field, it's been a struggle.

You've threatened from the beginning that poor grades would mean no sports. But is taking your child out of an activity because of bad grades really the correct and -- more importantly -- most effective decision to make? Especially if he or she is only involved in one sport and it's the only extracurricular activity in his or her schedule?

The most common solution to poor grades is to study more. And so it's natural for parents to say, "No more sports. Instead you are going to spend that time studying."

But will they? And, if you really think about it, the one to two hours your child spends practicing and playing youth sports -- usually just two to three times a week -- isn't what is taking the time away from studying. Instead, it's the horsing around after school, not cracking open a book at all on the weekend and coming home from practice and turning on the television.

Shift the focus

A good compromise with your child might be to offer that instead of taking away a youth sports activity, you will help him or her re-focus their energy after school and on the weekends. And of course, he or she has to be willing to do so in order to keep playing on the team.

Instead of just completing the assigned homework after school, insist your child study the homework for at least 15 to 30 minutes, depending on age and subject. This will reinforce that doing well in school doesn't just mean turning in homework assignments, but knowing the material. The key to this strategy is making sure this happens BEFORE practice.

Utilize the weekends

And don't forget the weekends. If there is an afternoon game, there's no reason the child can't study for 30 minutes before it's time to leave for the field. Or if the game is first thing in the morning, the studying can be done after the game but before he or she heads outdoors to play with friends.

Yes, your kids will gripe, moan and groan if you implement these rules -- just ask mine. But if you present them with the alternative of not playing at all, they might be more than willing -- note that I did not say happy -- to agree to your terms.

Contact Jon Buzby at JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @JonBuzby on Twitter.

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