How are you using your time after school?

Expert tips for students who need a break but also need to get to work

After school, most students who are still on campus waiting for a sports practice or for a ride home with parents like to socialize and play around with friends or go to get something to eat in their free time. All students seem to need a break, but how can they balance relaxing with using free time to get homework done so they don’t have so much to do when they get home?

Minnehaha learning specialist Elaine Ekstedt has some tips.

“Have some downtime because there are lots of classes,” she said. “But if you know you need to get some work done that’s due the next day, you should find a place where you can do it, like in the library to get away from your friends.”

Students need to plan ahead and make sure they have all the things they need to do their work, Ekstedt said.

“The hardest part is just putting your mind to it, even though you know you’ve just got out of class,” Ekstedt said. “It varies a lot. There are a lot of kids who are able to make themselves do what they have to do, and for other kids, it’s a lot harder because they are very social and they see their friends. They want to hang out, and it’s hard to say, ‘Sorry, friends. I do need to go over here and get this work done.’ Some students are good at saying, ‘I need to get my work done,’ and for some others, it’s very hard.”

Dante Britten, a coach and physical education teacher who also works with students in Learning Lab, has advice for using after-school time wisely. It starts with setting priorities. By doing that, students can do themselves a favor by keeping grades up without staying up too late.

“First things first, if [students] have work that they need to work on for class, get that done,” he said. “That way when they get home they can spend time doing more fun stuff.”

On any given day, the “right” decision for how to use time wisely will be different for each student, depending on what they need to get done for the next day.

“Take advantage of the opportunity that’s there,” Britten said, “whether that’s getting work done, going to check in with teachers or just being able to enjoy high school.”

Britten also advises athletes to view some free time as an athletic opportunity.

“If you’re in a sport,” he said, “it’s a good time to get into the weight room and get better.”

Britten agreed that it can be hard to do homework after school with so many friends around, but he said it will be just as hard to do that work “when you get home after a long day at school.” Instead, he encouraged students, especially if they have sports practices or games in the afternoon or evening, to “be productive at school” so they can “get home and be able to enjoy the time.”

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