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5 Sure-Fire Ways To Increase Productivity After School

Parenting tips for making the most of after-school time before evening activities

I remember my kids coming home from school, and it was nothing short of chaos until I figured out a few helpful strategies. For us, early dinners and immediate homework time were essential due to our busy after-school activity schedule. Sound familiar? Hopefully, the tips below will help you and your family.

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1. Routine Is Key

Kids respond to routines. As a matter of fact, they crave them just like most adults. Think of it this way-- when you get up in the morning, what is the first thing you do? Grab a cup of coffee? Let the dog out? Scroll through social media? You have a routine, right? I'll bet it's a pretty calm routine since you know what to expect. On the other hand, let's imagine you wake up late. You miss your coffee and all your other morning routine habits. Most of us feel rushed, flustered, and maybe a little grumpy when we mess up our morning routine.

Children respond the same way. If a schedule is different, they react to that. Usually, it's in the form of nervous energy. Try to keep the routine as predictable as you can, so your child(ren) knows what to expect. This will help to create calmness after school.

2. Set Expectations

As a parent and a former classroom teacher, I know setting expectations with children is essential. Our busy days were so much smoother when I prepared our children for what the afternoon routine held. I stated my expectations and told them everything that had to be done as soon as we arrived home. Also, I made sure to tell them what time we would be leaving the house to head to the after-school activities so they knew exactly how much time they had to get things done. In addition, when I picked them up after school, I would ask them to tell me what they were going to do as soon as we arrived home. This strategy reinforced the plan and cut out the "shock and awe" and nervous energy.

3. Get Organized

I learned to take advantage of every minute after school and not to waste time trying to hunt down materials. Below are a few things that helped keep us on track (links included):

  • Containers For School Supplies & Materials (similar to a shower caddy) for: crayons, scissors, highlighters, map pencils, glue, paper, and so forth. This eliminated hunting for materials.

Tip: Grab one for each child if needed.

For Fun: Decorate and personalize the caddy.

  • Timer- This helped keep everyone to stay focused on the tasks after school. I liked to break the time into 2 sections: homework and dinner.

  • Take Home Folder- One folder system for all papers. I always bought a brightly colored, heavy plastic folder for this, so it was easy to spot in the backpack. Also, I made sure it had two pockets and brads. The brads held a one-week planner I created to help them keep track\plan their week. (Happy to share! I will link it below if you want to grab it.) Then, we labeled each pocket: homework and parent info. All homework (even from different classes) along with any parent information from the school went into this one folder. When the homework was completed, my child put it back in the homework pocket to turn in to the teacher the next morning. This system is very simple and effective for all ages. No more hunting for homework papers after school. By the way, as a teacher, I used this same strategy for my students; it worked like a charm!

(You will receive access to the resource library here.)

4. Plan Meals Ahead

Hungry kids are grumpy kids; take that out of the equation to calm the chaos. If you can, plan your meals on Friday or Saturday for the upcoming week. Then pick up groceries on Sunday. This helps to eliminate extra errands during the busy week. Also, having some kind of dinner game plan put together to avoid the "what's for dinner" panic. My crockpot and Instapot were lifesavers!

Grab my favorite here: Instapot

5. Study Music & Calming Scents

As parents, we know our atmosphere plays a role in our mental state. My goal (even as an empty nester) is to always keep a calm, peaceful environment for my family (easier said than done, right?). To help with this, I love playing some kind of calm music or having ambient noise in the background to help maintain calmness and focus. Some of my favorites are:

- Coffee shop music: light and upbeat

- Spa music: relaxing

You might like my Spotify Calm/Study Playlist to play after school. I have attached the link in case you want to check it out: Calm/Study Playlist

Also, I LOVE to use essential oils. Some of my favorites are lavender and LLP ( a combination of lemon, lavender, and peppermint.) The lavender helps to calm while the peppermint helps to keep the brain alert. These also make the house smell great!

If you need a place to check these out or order some, feel free to go to my Young Living page here:

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I hope you found something useful!



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I'm Kristen Henderson, M.Ed.

I'm a mom, wife, former classroom teacher, and the owner of The Savvy Student, LLC who has helped an enormous amount of students and families have calmer, more productive homework/study time by equipping them with study skills, high-achieving habits, activities, and routines.  My mission? To bridge the gap with essential skills not taught in most schools while helping students "level -up" their learning in school. I help motivated, but frustrated and overwhelmed, tweens, teens, and young adults go from mediocre to extraordinary.


Fun Facts: I love my yellow lab, Charlie like my 3rd child, dark chocolate, and a good pair of jogger pants!


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