Great-student-athletesFor sports-loving kids like ours, school can feel like it’s a 5-day long obstacle keeping them from playing sports with their friends. It’s a tough transition to go from playing all day every day, to sitting in class and paying attention.

You and I both know how important school is though. Being a great athlete is exciting, but being a great student is essential. When our kids reach high school and college, if they don’t do well in school they won’t be eligible to play sports at all. So it’s in their best interest that we help them become great student athletes from a young age. Here are a few ways we can do it.

Help Them Develop A Love Of Learning.

Developing a love of learning and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge are the most important traits we can give our kids. A love of learning transfers into everything they will do in life. If they want to be the best at anything, they must dig in and learn everything about it. The most successful people in any profession take pride in being life-long learners.

The best way that I know to do this is to focus on the act of learning itself and not on a grade. When you help your kids study, don’t let them think they’re just doing it to get a good grade. Focusing on grades will get them to train their mind to memorize facts and lessons for a test and forget them as soon as that unit of study is over. How does that benefit them in the long run?

When you help them focus on learning and understanding facts and lessons for the knowledge they will gain, their mind will be in absorbtion mode instead of “set it and forget it.”

This kind of mindset will benefit them when they encounter subjects that don’t particularly interest them too. When they take pride in learning and being knowledgeable, they’ll be able to push through mundane material a little easier.

Show Excitement For Their Academic Preparation As Well As Their Accomplishments.

You know how excited you get when your kid scores a goal, hits a homer, wins the race or makes the winning basket? Show that much excitement and pride when he finishes a big project or when he feels like he’s learned the subject matter for an upcoming test. Don’t limit your pride and excitement for the result of his hard work (i.e. the grade he receives). Grades are great, but it’s also important to praise the preparation and the knowledge they’ve gained. Doing that will help fuel their love of learning.

Help Them Enjoy Reading.

Have you heard the saying, “Leaders are readers”? It’s true. Put reading material that interests them into their hands. I don’t care if it’s a Sports Illustrated Kids Magazine or Harry Potter, let them read what they like.

Read with them. My boys love to partner read with me. I’ll read a page aloud and then pass them the book for them to read a page. This is great quality time together too. Quite often something in a book we’re reading will spark a great conversation between us.

Help Them Appreciate The Value Of Sleep.

Even though I set my alarm to wake up at 4:00 AM to write this post, I understand how important sleep is to effective learning. Getting our kids to bed so that they are getting enough sleep is about the most basic skill there is as a parent. But it’s also one of the most important.

According the the National Sleep Foundation, children aged five to 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep. They also listed the following

Sleep Tips for School-aged Children:

  • Teach school-aged children about healthy sleep habits.
  • Continue to emphasize need for regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine.
  • Make child’s bedroom conducive to sleep – dark, cool and quiet.
  • Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine.

Always Be There For Support.

School isn’t always easy or enjoyable for kids. Especially when they reach a topic or subject that they have difficulty with. When our kids come to us for help, we should always be enthusiastic about it. (Even if you’re not thrilled to spend your Thursday evening doing fractions.) Always being there to support and help our kids when they struggle will give them the confidence that they will eventually figure out what they’re struggling with. It helps them to know that they’re never alone in their struggles.

Being there for support is much different than just giving them the answers and/or doing the work for them. Even though most of the time it would be easier and quicker for everyone if we just gave our kids the answers, our job is to help them learn how to do it themselves.

Help Them Appreciate Challenges.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine can get frustrated pretty easily when they’re working on homework that doesn’t come easily to them. It’s understandable. I always try to help my kids see the bigger picture. I try to get them to realize how great it’s going to feel when they finally finish the assignment they’re working on. I like to say things like, “Nothing worth while comes easily.” And, “I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying it’s worth it.” Creating that kind of mindset in our kids will result in a good work ethic and determination as they get older.

Help Them Become Confident That They Can Learn Anything.

I know I bring up confidence a lot. There’s a good reason for it. I feel that confidence is the key ingredient to becoming great at anything. Whether our kids are trying to score on a penalty shot or learn basic geometry, the confidence that they can do it will help them rise to the challenge.

The best way to instill confidence when it comes to school is to help them stick with whatever they’re struggling with. Don’t give up on them and never let them give up on themselves. Keep working with them until they get it. When they get over the wall and reach a level of understanding, celebrate it like they just hit a walk-off homer. Praise their persistence. Say things like, “See, if you stick to it and keep plugging away, you can learn anything.” Then the next time they’re up against a challenging subject, remind them of previous victories. They will continue to gain confidence with every learning obstacle they encounter and conquer.

How Do You Help Your Kids Become Great Student Athletes?

I just shared the tips that I feel are the most important for raising great student athletes. Now I’d love to hear some from you. Share what you instill in your student athletes.

Thanks for reading,

-Kevin


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