Is downtime necessary for success?
Fearing the first few weeks of May, juniors and seniors brace themselves for approaching AP exams. They purchase preparation books, review old notes and form study groups. A whole year of effort and concentration culminates in this period of heightened tension.
Sometime far in the future comes June, when everyone can finally enjoy a long breath of the seaside breeze. Until then, however, many students feel they must unconditionally resist every impulse to relax.
From another perspective, Stanford professor Denise Pope, who gave a parent seminar in the McAfee Center on April 29 titled “A Well-balanced Child: Parenting successful students without stressing them out,” identified the importance of scheduling more downtime for students striving to succeed.
Downtime consists of simply resting and rejuvenating through activities such as reading and listening to music. Pope said spending time to relax and to appreciate family not only boosts productivity but also drastically improves emotional health and vitality.
According to Pope, scheduling mandatory downtime enhances learning by allowing students to reflect on what they have studied and by preventing them from burning themselves out. Thus, serious rest deprivation before AP testing can potentially prove detrimental to test-takers.
In addition, the benefits of relaxing extend well beyond the classroom. Downtime helps students reach a different type of success as well: a healthier and more dynamic lifestyle.
“Free time fosters creativity and emotional development. It gives you the opportunity to deepen relationships and learn about yourself,” clinical psychologist Dan Gottlieb wrote in an article titled “Teenagers drastically need more downtime.”
“Without free time, I worry that you could grow into adulthood valuing yourself more for your performance than for your humanity,” Gottlieb said, “therefore putting yourself at greater risk of self-absorption, depression and anxiety disorders.”
Although teenagers generally recognize the importance of free time for the emotional and social development of a toddler, many seem to view downtime as increasingly dispensable as high school years drag on. However, as Gottlieb argues, academic achievement in school does not convert into the development of a healthy personality.
Students, through emotionally difficult phases encountered during high school, must nurture the “humanity” within them in order to become successful and confident adults.
Too often, much of the pressure to receive high scores on AP tests comes from adults. Parents can help children succeed by understanding that students need time to relax. Moreover, parents can set a more positive example by spending more time with the family and by partaking, once in a while, in their own leisurely pursuits.
Ultimately, however, the responsibility falls upon students. As AP tests approach, no one should forget that downtime, in sufficient amounts, contributes to success.
May 31: First Period Final
June 3: Senior Awards Night
June 3: Second and Third Period Final
June 4: Fourth and Fifth Period Final
June 5: Sixth and Seventh Period Final
- Boys' tennis vs. Serra in CCS semis; girls' softball plays Milpitas for league championship; girls' lacrosse @ Paly at 7 in SCVAL playoffs.
- Boys' Tennis stunned No. 2 ranked Monta Vista 11-4 on Monday in CCS.
- Varsity baseball starts a best of 3 series with Wilcox for the League Championship. Today's game is @ Wilcox 3:30
- The swim team is competing at League Finals today at Palo Alto.
- The baseball team beat Palo Alto 4-3 on May 2, sweeping the season series against the traditional powerhouse. Kyle Dozier pitched 6 innings.