The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

March 23, 2013

Support available for teens with full slates

After assessing a student’s stress level, counselor says they help kids try to examine their time-management skills

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MANKATO —

At West High School, counselor Tom Villagomez sees the same things.

“There are a lot of students who will do whatever it takes, and when you put them in a class with a lot of expectations, it can be a lot of stress,” he said. “And when you add extracurriculars, they can run into what I call overscheduling. They lose downtime, they lose family time, they lose sleep.”

After assessing a student’s stress level, Villagomez says the first thing they do to help kids is try to examine their time-management skills. He said most kids understand what they need to do be successful during the day, but after school when their time isn’t rigidly scheduled can be a different story.

They also may need a dose of reality. Sometimes the study strategies of even the brightest kids need to be re-evaluated.

“Imagine that bus ride home from athletic event, bumping up and down, and you’re trying to study for an AP chemistry test,” Villagomez said.

Counselors at West teach their students how to use their planner, how to identify good places to study, and the importance of quality study time.

“I’ve had a few kids tell me, ‘I can study better when my earbuds are in,’” Villagomez said. “That’s not a good idea.”

Krause said East offers students something called the Cougar Lunch Lab where they can come in and get help with whatever homework they’re struggling with.

She said they also offer students emotional counseling as well.

“That’s what counselors are here for,” she said. “We meet with them as often as they want to.”

And more people than ever are asking for help.

She said one thing that’s nice about Mankato Area Public Schools is that kids are taught from the earliest grades that it’s OK to speak with a counselor, and those counselors are available whenever a student needs one.

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