Updated: Jan 21
| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 1/19/2021|
Mental and physical energies are a prerequisite to high-quality productivity. If so, then self-care is the lifeblood to all successes, but especially academic success. Energy is replenished through regimented self-care. The life of the mind relies heavily on the health of the body. Think of all that has to happen before a student shows up and ace a test:
-8 hours of sleep
-Wake up on time
-Pack materials the night before
-Consistent practice and rehearsal of knowledge
If you would like your child to leverage their academic strengths, you need to help your child embed consistent self-care routines into their daily life. Health is wealth; health is also energy. And energy is the currency needed for high-caliber academics. Below are three foundational ways to replenish and maintain mental and physical energy to accelerate academic excellence while developing foundational executive function skills (skills needed to get things done).
Sleep Is Productivity In Disguise
Schoolwork requires high-caliber mental processes to be at work. While doing homework, your child's brain is like a cognitive highway operating at 80-90 miles per hour. The more challenging the materials are, the harder and faster the brain has to work. In order for this to happen, there needs to be ample mental energy. This is why it is a must that every student gets at least eight hours of sleep nightly in order to maximize energy and brain's function level the next morning. Sleep is the secret ingredient to a winning day at school. A student who went to bed at 9pm and got his full sleep would be more alert and concentrate better than a student who went to bed at midnight. The difference is energy. With full mental energy, the brain is more alert therefore absorbs new information more smoothly allowing the student to process materials deeply and get the work done with precision, speed, and efficiency. High-level energy means high-level success: that's real productivity. Bonus: A child who learns to go to sleep at a consistent, moderate time daily also adopts incredible time management and self-regulation skills. Over time, parents can step back and the child would run his own ship.
Wake Up Early To Take Care of Yourself
If sleep is a miracle for mental energy, then proper nutrition is the salvation for physical energy. Food is fuel, and the brain does need fuel to run well. Too often students who wake up closer to class time don't have time for breakfast and time to themselves to get ready for the day. By not replenishing the physical energy with food, this can make absorbing information at school difficult because the brain lacks fuel that it needs to run on. This, as a result, affects their productivity for the entire day. Some students also end up eating breakfast during class time which may disrupt their concentration and level of focus towards academic materials and comprehension level. Do consider teaching your child to wake up two hours before actual school time to groom, get a healthy breakfast, clean up after themselves, set out school materials, and get mentally ready for a school day.
Bonus: This deceptively simple morning routine will in the long run teach your student how to plan ahead, follow multi-step processes, and practice emotional control (since rising early is hard for some students).
Do The Heavy Lifting During High-Energy Hours
One of the best ways to teach your student to put work first and play later is to get the student in the habit of doing all the heavy lifting earlier in the day as much as possible. As the day goes on, students' concentration and alertness wane. Thus, it behooves parents to show your child that it's best to take care of homework as soon as possible after school. You can say something like: "Wouldn't it be great if you don't have to worry about homework after dinner? So, let's make it a goal to get all your work done before dinner time." Even if it doesn't seem humanly possible logistically, it's a success if you can get your child to get in the habit of completing at least 90% of it done before dinner, that is a win too. If your child resists, you can do it their way first, then have them try your way of completing everything before dinner. Afterwards, talk it out with your child and compare together which method is better. You might get the student's buy-in better this way. Bonus: The beautiful lesson here is the student learns to estimate time on tasks, practice delayed gratification, and prioritization. By immersing your child into the work- first, then-play routine daily, the student learns strong self-management skills and persistence that will lead to independence and autonomy in the long run.
Beyond the fundamental, technical aspects of productivity like using a planner and to-do lists, while those are valuable practices, there lies a deeper and more primordial ingredient to true productivity: it is energy creation and maintenance. Energy is the real engine of mental and physical productivity. Without sufficient mental and physical energy, high-quality academic work is jeopardized. If you educate your child on how to habituate these self-regulating skills to harness and maintain energy in order to advance their educational future to the next level, your student will learn skills that will take them into the next century and beyond.
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