Ideas to help your kids gain more personal productivity during the countdown to school

During these last weeks of summer, consider how you’d like to take advantage of the upcoming opportunity to teach personal productivity skills.

Getting ready for back to school

A new school year is the perfect time to pause, reconsider, and set up new routines. For parents, any shift in the family schedule is a great time to consider what you’d like to do differently.

Transitions create an opportunity for change

Some kids rely heavily on parents for structure, whether around school, health, technology, or anywhere else. Naturally, change is hard for all kids, and even harder if a kid struggles with the kills required to anticipate, prioritize, manage time, and manage any new plan.

That typically means that parents, and not kids, modify and implement new plans as the kids grow up—right up until they figure out how to do it themselves. Introducing new routines during transitions—such as back to school time—often makes them less jarring.

Mark Bertin, MD, a Developmental Pediatrician, recommends a few common routines to reconsider as school approaches:

Morning routines

One useful shorthand for problem solving is seeing ADHD as a developmental delay in executive function. Frustrating as it is, a child’s self-management skills are behind.

If your child can’t get ready on her own in the morning without distractions, becoming more involved can be exhausting, but leads to more success. It’s also through adult-supported consistency and modeling of this kind that independence eventually develops.

Sometimes collaboration eases tension too. For example, say: “We both tend to run a little behind, so this year let’s see if we each can get dressed and have our teeth brushed by 7:00 a.m.”


It’s common for kids to struggle with prioritization, procrastination, planning, and time management. Parents typically define the homework plan, right up until kids show themselves capable on their own.

Try saying: “This year, you’ll take a short break after school and then get your homework done. Only then is it time to play. If you do it without arguing, you’ll earn a reward.”


Being active helps improve sleep, mood, and self-control. Some kids find that team sports, sticking to exercise routines, and even sustained effort difficult, so exercise is often avoided.

Instead, make a concrete plan and participate. Say: “Everyone is going to exercise. We’ll help you find something fun, but you need to pick something by the time school starts.”


Screens and most kids are often a perfectly disruptive storm. Symptoms such as hyper-focus of attention, frequent boredom, persistent novelty seeking, and poor time management converge to make screen time a huge disruption.

Clear, unambiguous boundaries around technology prevent children from becoming overly focused on it.

Try saying: “This fall, you can watch one show while I make dinner, and that’s it for school days. On the weekend, you get one hour total a day. If you cooperate, you can earn extra time.”

Start the new school year by putting in place whatever you feel would benefit your children. It’s an ideal time for parents to make growing up more manageable and family life a lot less stressful.

Using technology for personal productivity

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