Once people find out that my oldest daughter is a competitive gymnast the first question they ask is, “How does she do all that and maintain her grades?” It seems that a lot of people struggle with keeping their child engaged in school once they become involved in sports. I am not going to lie, keeping a child engaged in school is tough enough but sacrifices need to be made by us, the parents, to ensure they stay engaged. Education and church are the two things that we stress in our home. No matter how tired you are or what you have going on, you will go to church and you will be at school. The hardest part about that statement is when the time comes to actually have them suffer the consequences you have to follow through.
A little back story. My oldest daughter, Jomaiya, has been a competitive gymnast for 3 years now and before that she was a competitive tumbler for 2 years. She started this sport when she was 6 years old, so since then she practices 3 times a week for 2-3 hours a day. Needless to say that we have been using this same technique for almost 6 years and it has worked. When Maiya decided that she wanted to compete, yes we let her decide, we told her that her involvement in church would not change and she had to maintain good grades. I am that mom that checks grades daily. If you don’t, I strongly suggest that you start even if your child is not involved in any extra curricular activities. You should always be aware of how your child is doing in school. If I see that her grade falls below a C or there are missing assignments; she will not go to practice until that grade is changed. On another note, if that grade does not change by the time report cards come out she will not attend the upcoming competition meet. We wanted to show her how to be responsible so this method has forced her to be responsible and to be aware of how she is doing in school. Jomaiya has gone up to teachers and asked them to update her grades in her online grade book just so I can see that she raised her grade. She has made sure to ask for extra credit to make sure her grades are where they need to be in order for her to continue to do gymnastics.
I would be lying to you if I told you that since we instilled this rule she is a straight A student. I would also be lying to you if I said that this was easy. As any child tries their parents, she has tried us and we have been forced to follow through. Jomaiya has sat out of practice for a week. One year she did not attend camp for 2 weeks. She has even missed a few competitions and it crushed her. In all reality I think it crushed me more then it crushed her because I pay for all practices and all competitions. So when she does not go to practice or competition its like I am wasting money and no one wants to waste money. However, no matter how much you are paying for your child to be a part of a sport or how much they love it you have to stand firm and follow through with the rules you set. She knows that we are her biggest supporters and as long as she continues to love gymnastics we will be with her 100%. But, the moment it stops being fun and it hinders her education and her involvement in church, its over.
I think the biggest lesson that I learned in all of this is that you have to follow through each time. I love watching her compete and I want her to reach her goals of competing in the NCAA. It doesn’t matter if its State, Nationals or Regionals. If the grades are not there then she doesn’t compete. Like I said before it took a little time to get use to standing strong on my word. I even tried to negotiate the terms with Marcus but he stood his ground. I believe that this has taught her accountability and time management at a very young age. Many adults can’t even keep track of their own activities but at almost 13 years old she has found time for church, homework, practice and friends. I think we are headed in the right direction.
I hope this has helped you in some way. Its difficult saying no to our children but in order for them to learn how to be responsible and how to be accountable we need to. I would love to hear what rules you use?