Homework and the Gym

 We are now entering the season of prolonged darkness and lousy weather but also the honeymoon of the school year is over. Kids are now in the routine day-to-day existence of school and the new teacher, new class, new way of doing things has become passe. Kids now have to make a commitment to study and doing their job, school, well. Gymnasts have a different view on things as usual. Gymnasts are very studious and often develop good study habits quickly because they are limited on time since practice and training takes up so much of it. Other kids think about what PS3 game they will play until it’s time for homework but a gymnast will get to homework right away since they are at the gym when others first start to buckle down.  

Our athletes know the 2 things that take priority over training are family and school. We tell our gymnasts that homework can be an annoying fact of life, however, it is an important discipline to learn that will help you succeed later in life.  Homework is like conditioning after workout.  You might not like it, but you know it is necessary.  Homework conditions your mind to be stronger and at the same time flexible and open to new ideas which will help you with your school work and with understanding new and different techniques in the gym. But sometimes our advice goes unheeded.  

With that in mind, here are some suggestions that can make it easier to get to the books, and thus free up time for gym and just playing with your friends.  

Suggestion #1:  Most athletes, gymnasts and others already do this; but we suggest that you do your homework when you first get home from school.  Your brain will still be in the school work mode.  It will be much easier to follow through and get the homework done than it will be to get back in the mood after you have started something else.

Suggestion #2:  Keep all distractions to a minimum.  studying while texting, IM’ing, listening to music or TV is counter-productive. You may think it has no effect but I have about 200 studies that show that it does. F-O-C-U-S!

Suggestion #3:  Get a study place. Be sure all materials you may need are available or close at hand. Be sure it’s not a place with high traffic. If you could get interrupted or distracted, read number 2 again. 

Suggestion #4:  Keep a small pad or section of your notebook for writing down exactly what your homework assignments are for each day.  Check it before you leave school to be sure you have all the books or materials  you will need to complete your assignments. Remember the “Rule of P’s” Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Suggestion #5:  Try different ways to remember important information. Like:

            * Highlight the material with different color pens depending on the type of information. (I.E. historical dates in blue, famous names in yellow, etc.) Yes this means that you will have a lot of pens, but it works.  

            * I had a friend who would read facts into a tape recorder and play it over as she went to sleep. I don’t think this really works but give it a try, if you can find a “Tape Recorder.” 

            *  Use index cards.  Write specific bits of information you need to know on one side of the card, and a question pertaining to the information on the other side.  You now have a series of flash cards that you can shuffle randomly to quiz yourself on information that may come up on a test. Better yet, have another person quiz you and have them re-word the questions; that’ll make you think.  

These ideas are just a start, strategies have to be personalized in order to be effective. But having  a plan or a system will always guarantee that you finish your work quickly and retain more information. 

If kids are having problems in school they should be encouraged to seek help immediately. We insist that kids in the gym come to us right away if they don’t understand something, if they feel over their head or even if they feel under challenged.  It should be the same in school. Parents be sure your child knows that you are available. If you have older kids you may not be able to help them on their subject matter (ever seen “Are you smarter than a 5th grader”? Honestly there are things that we probably don’t recall.)  Contact the teacher for help they may be able to suggest some ideas for better study habits, or may revise the homework schedule.   

 As I mentioned most gymnasts, by the very nature of the sport, are quite organized.  They have learned to get a lot done in the little time available to them; yet we still need to make sure that they have enough time to get their job done. Often an after-school appointment or unusual circumstance can throw a routine aside. Be sure that the student is given opportunity to make up for lost time. This might mean missing practice (I really don’t suggest that though because the physical activity enhances the brain function and displacing the routine even more can be even more problematic). 

The most important thing to remember is that education and family are more important than anything else – even gymnastics!  (Ouch).  Student athletes should know that even their coaches and teachers need to study to keep in touch with new developments in their sport or subject. Gymfinity’s coaches have regular meetings to learn and review. We often travel far and wide for educational opportunities yet we will always make time for our athletes, thats our responsibility and we take it seriously.

 There must be a balance and coaches, teachers and parents all need to understand that the important thing is to be sure the student is progressing as well as the athlete.

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