How much work is too much? Despite common perceptions, it seems that many students still struggle to find the right balance between their education and free time. A recent survey revealed that three-quarters of students (72%) reported feeling pressure from teachers and parents to drop their extra-curricular hobbies in order to meet academic expectations.
Although an element of pressure can have a significant positive effect on the lives of students, it has to be at a healthy level. We have a responsibility to ensure students maintain a good balance in life, so what can we do help?
Provide a healthy diet
Diet can be overlooked when looking at behaviour and school life. Although more has been done in schools in recent years to challenge bad eating habits, there’s still much more we can do. Where additives and sugars can have a detrimental effect on children’s attitudes, dietary adjustments can also have a positive impact on concentration for students. Keeping energy levels balanced throughout the day can help students be more consistent and not drop off before lunch and the end of the day. Offer balanced meals over lunch but also think about providing energy-boosting fruit for students throughout the day. You can’t choose what your pupils eat at home, but you can offer a nutritional breakfast in the mornings with a breakfast club to get their day started right.
As with diet, exercise can have many supplementary benefits other than simply a student’s health. Exercise has been proven to release endorphins, which are stress relieving and can help students deal with the pressure of exams and busy schedules, which is particularly important for students studying for exams. As well as this, team and skilled sports can instil a sense of discipline in pupils that may have problems in the classroom. Regular and scheduled practice after classes will not only help improve their mood, but make the transition from school to homework run more smoothly.
Work with students
Difficulties with some students often arise when they don’t feel involved in their own education. While your role as a teacher is to guide pupils, that doesn’t mean you can’t allow them to feel a part of the decision process. If they have some investment in their own education they will feel more valued and motivated to better organise their time. Work with them to figure out assignments and extracurricular activities.
Instilling a sense of discipline is important, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible with pupils. As with employees at a business, all children have a different way of working. If there are ways you can accommodate the needs of different children without much upheaval then offer alternatives. If you know students struggle with work at home, offer weekly sessions outside of school hours. While this might seem like an additional time strain on teachers, in the long run, this additional ‘checkpoint’ may help students become more time efficient in lessons and with homework in future.
The school and home are two different worlds for a student. The school is primarily for learning while the home is a place of social interaction and development. For a balanced life, students should have the chance to thrive in both areas. This means schools, parents and children all working together to work out the best plan of action to have the best of both.