Sophomores often think they know a lot about school. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they really don’t! After the structure of freshman year has been stripped away, some sophomores emerge with no internal sense of schedule, which can stress parents out, even more than students. Here are some ideas for helping a non-expert sophomore create a healthy schedule:
- Help your sophomore keep his schedule manageable and consistent. Don’t add in extra things “just for fun,” or “because he seems stressed” after school. Having his evenings free will help with stress. As much as possible, keep dinner at a consistent time, be available for homework help at a reasonable hour, and keep things mellow at home in the evenings, thus encouraging him to develop a routine for himself.
- Set an expectation for your sophomore that she “work first and then play.” Whatever the specifics of the day, have her ask herself if how she’s using her time is following this general rule. If not, she needs to rethink her routine. If she finishes her work with time to watch TV and socialize with friends, great, but those things shouldn’t come before or during homework.
- I repeat: social media should not be used during homework! No matter what your child tells you, he cannot focus as well on his work while his phone is pinging next to him. As one oft-cited study reminds us, we can’t even carry on a conversation as effectively when our phone is visible on the table! There is no way your student can wrestle with complex, new learning as deeply when he is also Facebook messaging and Snapchatting.
- As everyone says, we’ll say too: encourage your sophomore to go to bed early. A schedule that involves late-night cramming is not healthy. A roughly consistent bedtime makes a world of difference in her ability to think clearly and handle stress. If she has unfinished work, an early morning is better than a late night in terms of brain function. Aim for eight hours of sleep.
- Encourage your child to be independent enough to solve small problems on his own. Delivering dinner to his room and editing an English paper at midnight because the “poor thing is so stressed” is not a sustainable routine for your family. His nightly school routine should not become a family affair. Find a balance between encouraging his good work habits and maintaining your own life, as both will benefit him down the road.
With these basic structures in place, your sophomore is on her way to a well-managed schedule. Part II will give you a few specifics to work with, if you’re looking to get more involved in your child’s time management.