How to balance extra-curricular activities with academic studies

Whether you are at school, college or university it is very important to get the balance right between academic studies and extra-curricular activities. Your studies are important for your future success but extra-curricular activities enable you to develop an array of social, communication, cognitive and physical skills, as well as contributing to your happiness.

Here are some tips to help you to best manage your time:

Studies come first

This is true no matter what. To make the most of your education, it’s important that you attend your classes and do your best to learn so that you can achieve your goals. Falling behind now will cause you stress and panic later.

Choose extracurricular activities wisely

You cannot do everything. With some activities it is not enough to attend, you also have to practise at home. Pick only those activities that really interest you and stick to two or three at the most. If you do too much it’s not just your studies that will come under pressure. You need a healthy social life and time to relax as well.

Manage your time

To ensure a healthy balance between your academic workload, extra-curricular activities, social life and relaxing time consider making yourself a schedule. This will help you to see whether you are managing your time smartly or if any changes need to be made.

Prioritize

There will be certain times, such as when exams are looming or assignments are due that you must prioritize your studies. Equally, if you have a dance performance you will need to allow time for rehearsals. Think about what is most important to you at this moment in time. If you have an exam, can you stop any extra-curricular activities for a while? If you have rehearsals to attend, can you minimise study time and catch up later? Talk to your parents or tutors if you are not sure what to do.

Stay healthy

Staying healthy is key to keeping your stress levels low and your energy levels high, enabling you to manage your lifestyle.

  • Eat and drink well. A balanced diet and drinking plenty of water is important for you to be able to function on every level. Without good nutrition you will be prone to fatigue and illness. To live a full life you need to be alert and energetic.
  • Sleep well. For more about this, see our post, ‘Why is sleep important for academic success?
  • Keep fit. As well as keeping you physically fit and warding off the germs, exercise is brilliant for your mental wellbeing as it relieves stress. Pick the kind of exercise you most enjoy so that you are more likely to stick with it. It’s a great idea to choose something physical as one of your extra-curricular activities.

Take study breaks

Studying for too long can result in depression and memory loss. It is very important to plan breaks into your study time. For every 45 minutes of study you need to take a ten minute break to recharge. This might be to go for a short walk or just to make yourself a drink.

Breaks actually benefit your work in other ways too. After taking a break you may find that a tricky concept suddenly becomes clear, or that you are more able to see where to make changes to a piece of writing.

Seek advice

At TutorMyKids we understand how important it is for you to achieve a healthy work/life balance. Our tutors can help you to make a realistic timetable that enables you to manage your studies effectively.

Call or email us for a chat: hello@tutormykids.co.uk, 01223 858 421

Exam Preparation… The Final Day

So you’ve done all the revision and practice that you can… but even the most prepared students can feel like there is always more they can do.  Here are some tips and pointers for the day and hours before each exam.

Last minute revision… the day before: 

You now have limited time; try not to cram – focus your attention to specific areas you’ve either not had time to cover, or you feel you are weaker on.  Consider each topic’s weighting in the course and prioritise.

Be realistic; are you going to be able to learn 50 formulas in a few hours, or would your time be better spent learning 3 key formulas which are more likely to be assessed.

Make a cheat sheet with key details which you can either test yourself on or continue to learn – this is good for dates, formula’s, names.  Keep it brief so you can keep reviewing it throughout the day.

Take another look at any topics you still don’t feel comfortable with; reviewing for a final time may just be what you need for it to sink in.

Get organised:

Double check where you are meant to be, and at what time!  The last thing you need is to turn up at the wrong place, or at the wrong time.

Double check what you are able to take into the exam with you (and what you can’t); pack everything you need together so it is easy to access when you arrive.

Get some rest:

Even though you may be feeling the pressure now, make sure you still take breaks from studying.

Try and relax and get an early night, if you feel like you still have preparation to do, set your alarm to get up early.  Your brain will be better prepared to study after a good sleep and the benefit’s will be greater than studying when you are tired.

Eat and drink.

Be on time:

Turn up early, where possible.  Having a last minute stress being stuck in traffic, or your bus being late won’t help you focus when you arrive.

Now you’re on time, there is a chance for you to talk to your friends, however try not to discuss too much about the exam!  There may be things that they know and you don’t and vice-versa and discussion without the opportunity to review and clarify what is correct may cause panic and confusion.  Not what you need just before the exam.  Stand by yourself and stay calm if you find it helps to stay focused.

In the exam room:

Breathe!

Remember your preparation (reading questions carefully, allocating time etc).

Do your best, and relax!

GOOD LUCK!

Exam Preparation

Exam Preparation

With exams season just around the corner, those of you with exams this year will already know your children are preparing with mock exams and revision, but what else is involved in preparing?  Here are some tips and pointers for your kids.

Plan and start early

Prepare a timetable of realistic time slots when you can study then allocate them to specific subjects.  Remember to consider when the exams for each subject will be held so you can allow extra time to prepare in the lead up to each subject.

Pencil in topic areas, allowing more time for areas you are less comfortable with.

Pencil in practice questions for each subject to test yourself.

Mix up the subjects a bit, making sure you include some of your favourite subjects alongside those you are not so keen on so you don’t get bored or avoid a study session all together.

Make yourself accountable to someone…

Make a copy of your plan and put it somewhere your family can see; not only will this hold you accountable to study when you plan to, but they also know not to disturb you!

Find your space

Find a space that is suitable for you to study.  This may vary depending on what revision you are doing; practicing for your French Oral exam wouldn’t be appropriate in a library, or anywhere you will be self-conscious talking out loud.  Ideally you’ll want somewhere where you can concentrate without distractions and access to appropriate space to work.

Review your notes

Read your notes, make condensed notes and clarify anything you don’t understand.

Prepare revision cards with key facts on them to review and learn when you have a short revision session planned.

Review the syllabus

The syllabus is a great checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything you need to.  If you’re not sure what something is that is on the syllabus, check with your subject teacher.

Test yourself

It’s great reviewing your notes over and over, but unless you test yourself, you won’t know where further understanding is required.

Work with a friend

Study the same topic together and then test each other; ask questions, discuss ideas, practice speaking languages together.

Be selective who you work with, ideally you want someone of a similar ability and with the same motivation to do well.

Take a break 

Allow yourself time to rest! Try and focus on small chunks at a time; review your notes and ensure you understand.  Learn specifics details such as formulas or dates, with repetition.  Then take a break.  Come back later, either after a break or a few days and test yourself.

Reward yourself

Whether it’s a drink and a cookie, or a night off studying, stick to your plan and then reward yourself for doing it.

Ask for help…

Finally, if you need help, ask!  It may be a friend, your teacher or your parents who step in, but if you need additional support, you can get in touch with Tutor My Kids to see how we can offer private tuition to help fill in the gaps.