If your child excels on the field, court, track, or pool, there are a few things you can do as a parent of a student athlete to help them excel in the classroom as well.
Students who love playing sports usually are kinesthetic learners, meaning they learn the best when being physically active is part of their education. These types of learners usually do best when they are able to move or act in such a way that helps them remember key concepts and ideas. They are also usually skillful using objects that require the use of both fine gross motor skills. These types of leaners usually get anxious or fidgety when they have to sit for a long time, so consider breaking homework/study time up into chunks so that they can get up, move around and come back focused.
When helping the student athlete do well in the classroom, it can be beneficial to tap into their “athlete” side in order to improve their “student” side. Scheduling time to study is very important, as student athletes can be very busy with practices and games throughout the week. Remind the student that they wouldn’t show up to a game without putting in the work at practice, and academics works the same way. They cannot expect to be successful on “game day” (aka Test day) if they didn’t do the required practice.
Instead of just sitting at the kitchen table and going over (and over, and over) the material, take your child outside. The fresh air and change of scenery will help your student focus on the task at hand. If applicable, use things in or around the house as manipulative, something for the student to hold, sort, and move. Using counters, rulers, and other objects will help the kinesthetic learner retain more of the information. Let your child jump right in and experiment, using trial and error to aid with content retention. Ask your child to make up hand gestures of body movements to explain or describe certain important concepts. They will be able to use these gestures and movements to remember information and excel on the test. Kinesthetic learners are great at remembering things they’ve done before, so the more your child works through a problem and successfully answers it, the better he/she will do on the test.
Flashcards are a great resource for kinesthetic learners, because they are a physical object the student can handle while studying. Giving the student a small object to occupy their hands is another way to help in their learning. A simple stress ball to squeeze or pencil to tap gives the student something physical to do while they are learning.
Have your student athlete take advantage of travel time. Long bus rides are great studying opportunities, and can make the ride seem shorter.
As your child enters the field, court, track or pool, you wan them to feel as confident and prepared as possible in order for them to have a great game. You take them to practices, purchase their equipment and cheer them on during their games. It is important to be the same kind of fan for your child as they tackle their studies. Help them by catering to their particular learning style, and they will hit the next big test “out of the park!”