How to Handle It All: School, Activities & A Social Life

The beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for your teenager. There are new routines to learn, new teachers to meet and, of course, more school work. On top of adjusting to new school routines, they still have their own activities like sport practices, music rehearsals or a part-time job. So, how do you help your teen manage his or her time without becoming overly stressed?

Have a conversation with your teen about the following things:

  1. Prioritizing their schedule. What are the most important things that have to get done today and what can wait?
  2. Writing down and keeping track of all important upcoming dates. This includes homework, tests, quizzes, projects, appointments, sporting events, band performances, etc.
  3. Practice looking ahead at the calendar to see what is coming up and what you need to do to prepare for it. If your teen has a test next Friday, it might be beneficial to start studying now. If he or she has a project due in two weeks, it might need to be started this weekend.
  4. Give yourself more time than you think you need. The English paper your teen thinks will take an hour to write, will likely take more time. Plan to spend more time so he or she won’t be rushed and working at the last minute to turn something in before it’s due.
  5. Consider how non-academics are affecting your teen’s schedule and their productivity. For some students, having a full schedule actually makes them more productive in their down time, for others, too many activities can be overwhelming and leave little time for school work.
  6. Find pockets of time they didn’t realize they had. Consider the four minutes between classes, a 20 minute bus ride, a 45 minute study hall or the 30 minutes after school before football practice starts. These small amounts of time add up quickly and can be used productively.
  7. Decide with your teen if they are a technology or paper and pencil type of organizer. Pick one way to manage their schedule and then stick to it.

These conversations may seem like simple techniques for managing your teen’s schedule, but the most important piece is choosing a method that works for you both and sticking to it. Make sure you both have time set aside to write down activities, keep track of due dates and check in with each other.

It can be easy to go into auto-pilot mode during a school year. Make sure you check in with your teen to make sure they feel like they are managing their schedule well and enjoying the activities they are making time for. If that’s not the case, reevaluate, adjust and come up with a new routine that works again. It’s possible to have it all during high school. Balance, schedule and finding what works best for your student is key during this time.