Helping Students Balance

Photo by Michele Venne

Many students are returning to on-campus education. Some will choose to remain hybrid. What that looks like varies with each district. Students may attend school two or three days a week and stay home the rest of the time. They may split their day, morning and afternoon, one part at home and one part at school. Some may even shift from an online learning platform to real-time teaching, but remain remote. It seems as if there are endless possibilities for students to gain an education!

Regardless of the option chosen, or given, to the student, they may need support in learning/returning to life balance. Not all of their day should be spent in front of a screen, participating in a class or playing computer games or on social media with their friends. All three activities might be part of the student’s life, but balancing these with family time, being outside, engaging in some kind of physical activity, reading print books/material, and even learning life skills like cooking, doing laundry, changing a flat tire on a car, and making a budget can balance the time they are online.

When it’s safe, students will need to include in-person social time with their peers. Most parents and educators realize the struggle of all students during these past months of isolation. It’s helpful to keep up relationships digitally, but nothing replaces in-person socializing. As human beings, we gain so much information from the subtle body language of the person/people we are talking to and the inflections in voice that is sometimes delayed/altered as it comes through cyberspace. And physical contact, like a hug or a handshake, is vital for humans to thrive. (Much research has been done on infants in orphanages who were not held and did not receive interaction from a primary caregiver. There is also research on the elderly housed in retirement facilities when they don’t receive visitation from family and friends on a regular/often basis.)

All of life can be about balance. We might know people who have a single passion where they focus the entirety of their effort and energy, choosing to keep their scales tipped in one direction, foregoing the opportunity to spread out, to balance work/play/socialization/exercise/etc. One way for young people to decide where their passion lies is to be involved, or at least try, several activities. They can find these at school, a part-time job, church, community centers, family/friend connections, or from movies/books/magazines/the Internet. For most people, even when they discover a passion or two, they realize that burnout can happen if they don’t step back once in a while to replenish themselves, to take a break. Balance. It’s something most people spend a lifetime practicing. It’s something young people need help in figuring out what works for them.