How to make homework a priority during football season

By Jon Buzby | Posted 8/24/2018

Once the fall youth sports season begins, priorities shift quickly.

All of a sudden, the family dinner is moved to the car or the bleachers, the lawn is left to grow just a little bit higher, and the dirty clothes seem to stay in the hamper longer than the clean clothes remain folded in the basket.

It’s amazing how we seem to put the rest of our life on hold for the sake of our kids’ football practices and games.

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But there’s one area of our life, or should I say our children’s lives, that can’t be put on hold, and that’s the time needed to complete homework and study.

Regardless of your child’s age, there are school projects to complete, homework assignments to finish and tests to prepare for. This all must be accomplished during the evenings or weekends when many kids are involved in football practices, either as a participant or a sibling spectator. 

My guess is that most teachers would say doing homework in the backseat of the car or in the bleachers isn’t ideal. But those same teachers would say that it’s better than not doing it at all. Yet, depending on the child, that may or may not work.

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Over the years, I’ve found that the key to getting my sons to do their homework is always making sure it’s a priority right after school, on nights when they have sports commitments. For my oldest, that strategy didn’t change once he was on high school teams. The only thing that did change was that it became his head coach enforcing the idea.

The rule in our house is that the homework must be finished or you don’t go to practice. Like any kids who love youth sports, mine don’t want to risk missing practice and having it cost them game time, so they are willing to do the work right after school. But their mother and I have to make it a priority for them.

In addition, parents can also use the drive time to and from practice to study. It’s a great chance to review the week’s spelling words or times tables. And remember, there might be one night when you don’t feel your child is prepared for the next day’s test and they have to skip practice. Any good coach will understand - as long as it doesn’t become a habit.

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Very few kids want to make school a priority over sports. But let’s face it, there are some things we parents have to prioritize for them.

And this is one of them. It’s just part of our job.

Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years, originally as a coach and board member with his now-adult son and most recently "just as a dad" with his 9- and 11-year-old sons. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.