I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, EdTech, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of the Crush School Series of Books, which help students understand how their brains process information and learn. I also wrote The Power of Three: How to Simplify Your Life to Amplify Your Personal and Professional Success, but be warned that it's meant for adults who want to thrive and are comfortable with four letter words.

3 More Smart Back to School Items for Teens You Haven't Considered


In a recent post I discussed 3 Smart Back to School Items for Teams You Haven't Thought Of

The items have one thing in common. They support your teens' learning by supporting their brains.

The following are 3 additional items that improve focus, productivity, and sanity of kids when doing school work. Again, I explain the science, how the item helps, how to use it, and give you an inexpensive or free but effective recommendation.

1. Exercise Ball (Chair)

How does $23 for an office chair, gym, and therapy all-in-one sound?

Put it right next to that adjustable standing desk or use instead of a chair with a sitting desk and get an instant core-strengthening, blood flow-increasing, focus-promoting, and brain fatigue-fighting device. The pump is free.

It is perfect for home or the classroom, which reminds me - I need to get a few more of these because my high school students always fight for the one I bought 2 years ago.

Here's the best option in my opinion >>

I like this ball because it is well reviewed by 1,200 people, is sturdy, and comes in 5 cool colors. And, the largest size costs only $23. Get it here.

2. Productivity and Relaxation Playlists

Can you get behind zero dollars?

Show your smartphone-wielding teens the productivity and relaxation playlists on YouTube. Have them check out a few and bookmark one productivity and one relaxation playlist.

When selecting a productivity playlist, avoid lyric-rich songs as they distract. The key is to find something your teen likes and has a rhythm (60 beats per minute is optimal) that helps keep their work flow flowing. This here is a good one.

Choosing a relaxation playlist is easier. Tell them to pick pleasant sounds that make them want to take a nap. Naps are good but when your kid is stressed out or angry their relaxation playlist will work nicely to calm the heart and slow the blood. Here's a good one that's not lame or weird.

3. Brain Nutrition

Forget the nootropics and other such supplements. Some of them work but you might have to dip into those money bags you have buried in the forest (or the desert if you’re more of a Walter White type) to consistently procure them.

Instead, give your child fish oil capsules that studies prove increase brain function and focus when taken consistently. I buy this one for $29.98 on Amazon, because it contains the highest concentration of brain-boosting Omega-3 Fatty Acids, doesn't have the fishy aftertaste, and lasts me 3 months. I call it "sharper brain for $10 a month."

Buy magnesium which stimulates melatonin production and improves sleep quality. It will prove valuable during all those late nights of studying for tests and completing last-minute school projects. I buy this one for $6.35 on Amazon.

And don’t forget vitamin C. While it helps the immune system, it is known to reduce cortisol so your child can stress less. I usually buy mine over-the-counter, but I just found Amazon sells 250 tablets for $10 here, which is hard to beat.

Popping pills might never sound this good again and you don’t risk overdosing.

4. Bonus for Parents

I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon due to my mall and department store aversion. I like the convenience and the fact that I can get free shipping on most items with Amazon Prime. 

Don't worry, I will not try to get you to buy all your stuff on Amazon. I just figured a little Back 2 School hack you might not have thought about.

To get free shipping on Back 2 School items such as the one's above, do a free 30-day Amazon Prime trial, order what you need, and cancel within 30 days. You can get it here and save time shopping and a lot of money on shipping.

This is what I did to watch Cobra Kai, the Karate Kid spinoff of YouTube Red for free. Hey - if they let you hack the system - do it.

You have the power to change lives. Use it often so they can change the world.

In case you wanted to but haven't gotten around to it, my new book Crush School Student Guide: Learn Faster, Study Smarter, Remember More, and Make School Easier is now available on Amazon