Helping Students Overcome Overcommitments

As this article from Galin Education states, “high school students are busy.” Especially as they consider college and job applications, students feel compelled to say “yes” to every request or opportunity that arises, because each challenging course, volunteer opportunity, or extracurricular activity seems to increase their future prospects. This can be especially true for gifted students, who often excel in multiple areas and may be encouraged to be involved in every group, club, and sport in addition to challenging coursework. However, when students spend every waking minute (and many minutes when they should be sleeping) working to complete all their obligations, it leaves little time to develop their own interests and passions or to relax and engage in leisure activities.overachieverOf course, enrolling in challenging coursework and participating in volunteer and extracurricular activities are worthy commitments. There is a line, though, where students go from being involved to being overcommitted. Teachers and parents can help students examine and evaluate their involvements and make changes as needed.

Suggestions for Overcoming Overcommitments: From the article linked above, this article from the American Psychological Association, and this article from Gifted Child Quarterly.

  • Encourage students to consider why they are involved in each activity. For example, are they involved merely to impress selection committees, friends, or parents, or are they driven by interest?
    • Gifted students may be overwhelmingly involved, but they are interested in all of their activities. In this case, they might need someone to help them prioritize.
  •  Help students examine their schedules: Over a typical day or week, what responsibilities are mandatory? How much time is left for other activities?
  • Teach students how to say “no” and mean it: Students may feel powerless to turn down involvement, and end up committing to something out of an inability to say “no”. This can be especially relevant for high-achieving students with a desire to help solve everyone’s problems.
  • Equip students with time management skills. Help them understand how much time to devote to their responsibilities, and how to schedule time for leisure and relaxation.

Do you think your IOAPA students are overcommitted? How do you support them?

One response to “Helping Students Overcome Overcommitments

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