Schools are back in session, and parents are in frenzy of planning and adjustment after the long summer. Luckily, there are apps for that.
ClassDojo: Classroom management software and apps are a growing trend. The most popular is one called ClassDojo. It’s used in more than half of the schools in America and it tracks good behavior and areas that need work. Those "positive points" are tallied daily for kids and teachers to see. Parents are invited by the teacher to download the ClassDojo app and monitor their child’s performance. Through this secure app, photos and information can be shared with parents (accounts set up and verified by the teacher are inaccessible to those not on the service). Some privacy concerns have been raised about tracking of child behavior, but classrooms are set up only with the child's first name and no other identifiable information. Profiles only exist for 365 days then are erased so they don’t travel with a child from grade to grade.
Cozi: This free-app serves as a shared family portal to help everyone keep track of schedules, contribute to shopping lists and share fun moments while on the go. An agenda for the upcoming week can be sent to family members, making sure no one misses an important recital or their turn for carpool duty. Cozi is available free for Android and iOS users with the option for in-app purchases.
My Homework: This digital organizer helps students stay on top of their class schedule, assignments and upcoming tests, while providing an easy way for parents to check in and make sure it's getting done. My Homework is ideal for students in middle school and older. An ad-supported version is available free for Android, iOS and Windows Phone users.
Homework: Not sure how to help your second grader with his or her math homework? Don't panic! BeALearningHero.org is a new website offering information to help parents feel confident and informed about tackling the most complex homework problems. Parents will find carefully curated content from trusted parent and education organizations including videos, tips, guides and fast facts, developed with parents in mind.
Artkive: There's only so much room on the refrigerator for those works of art the kids bring home. For parents who can't bring themselves to throw away their children's masterpieces but might not have the extra space to keep everything around, Artkive lets them create a digital catalog of every picture, along with information such as the date and the child's age. Parents then have the option of ordering a book of their child's art. Artkive is free for Android users but the app costs $4.99 for people using iOS devices.
Dinnertime: To avoid the technology tug-of-war (getting devices out of kids’ hands), this app gives parents a remote kill switch for their children’s phones. Install the app on the child’s device, install the control app on the parent’s phone. DinnerTime offers three options: schedule a “dinner time” break--duration 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, “Take a break” which indefinitely freezes the child’s device until the parent device unfreezes it, or you can “Schedule bedtime” from say 9 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. to make the device in inaccessible to the child. When the DinnerTime app is freezing the child’s device, it is in complete lockdown: no phone, no texting, no alarms. A full screen image saying “take a break” or “Dinner time” appears on the child’s phone with no access to settings or app icons. If the child reboots the phone, the DinnerTime blocking screen resumes immediately. The app is only available for Android devices. Click here to learn more about how it works.
OurPact: Like DinnerTime, this free app offers similar parental control functionality for iOs users. Parents can sync your family's iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch to OurPact and manage everyone's device use under one platform. This means kids' apps and internet can be blocked during homework time or dinner time or hourly time limits can be set.
Virtual Companion: This app, Companion, lets you virtually walk your child home from school, even when you’re at work. Companion also allows anyone in your contact group to virtually walk you to your destination. A user fires up the app and selects their destination. Then they choose a companion: friend, parent, or caregiver. The companion accepts the request and then can watch an on-screen map as the user progresses from point A to Point B. If the user starts running, or drops their phone, an alert pops up asking if they are OK. If they don’t respond within a set time, the app alerts the virtual companion. The companion can call the person to see if they are alright. If they can’t reach them the companion app provides location data that can be shared with police if needed.
There are other tracking options, too. Most of the major cell phone carriers have a family tracking option that lets you locate a child and check their whereabouts. Many of these have schedule options intended for after-school routines. Get more information at the following links:
There are also stand-alone apps that track kids and send alerts between parents and the child.
ABC News' Alyssa Newcomb contributed to this report.
Being able to pull up all my kids’ chores on my phone has been a blessing and a curse. The convenience of assigning chores and special projects through a smartphone app as they pop into my head (as opposed to when I find a full load of laundry shoved underneath my daughter’s bed) can’t be matched.
I can also easily track earned — and more important, paid-out — allowance. (My son will seize on any doubt in my eyes that I’ve already doled out his money and demand immediate compensation.) The only drawback is how eager my children are to complete their chores. Yes, seriously.
Because my kids don’t yet have their own smartphones, they’re constantly asking for mine. They can’t resist the colorful, kid-friendly interface of ChoreMonster and its mini-games. The app lets them see tangible, real-time rewards. When their tasks are done well in advance, and they keep asking for extra chores, my finances can get tight quickly. (Sorry, sweetie, you’re going have to wait until Mommy’s direct deposit clears so she can pay you for all that extra doggie-doody duty and junk-drawer organizing.)
If your kids have their own phones or iPods, or you’re willing to hand yours over for the sake of a clean house and less chaos, here are a dozen apps for getting kids organized and on-track at home and in school.
Studying and staying on task
StudyBlue This innovative app allows college and high-school students to build their own crowd-sourced study guides and flashcards. Teachers and students register their classes, then begin creating and sharing flashcards and notes. Flashcards can incorporate text, audio and image files for more interactive learning. Online notes and flashcards can be organized into study guides for tests. StudyBlue is available on iOS and Android devices and is compatible with Evernote. Basic plans are free; upgraded versions are $7 to $9 per month. studyblue.com.
Biblionasium Book lovers and reluctant readers ages 6 to 13 can keep up with class reading or read for fun. Biblionasium incorporates social media by allowing kids to share book reviews and recommendations and talk about books. Teachers and parents can track assigned reading and search for age-appropriate titles based on a child’s interests and genre preferences. Kids can win awards and certificates for completed reading logs. This site is free. biblionasium.com.
SelfControl This simple-yet-effective app for Mac OS X helps kids — or even adults — stay on task while working online. Parents can block access to to any website added to a blacklist for a predetermined amount of time. Even if kids try to delete the app or restart the computer, access will not be restored until the timer is up. selfcontrolapp.com.
Getting things cleaned up
ChoreMonster Aimed at making chores fun for kids, this mobile and web app offers a point-based system that rewards kids for (parent-approved) completed tasks. Kids can purchase real-life rewards that parents have decided on, such as extra video-game time, a trip to their favorite amusement park, money and more. Parents and kids have separate log-ins, so chores can be checked anywhere, anytime. ChoreMonster is free. choremonster.com.
OurHome This app offers another points-based format but with a small and important twist. OurHome is set up like a mini social network within your home. A private communications hub keeps kids and parents connected with messaging and notifications. Stay up to date on what chore you’ve assigned, how many points each chore is worth and what rewards are available. This free app is available on iTunes and Google Play. ourhomeapp.com.
MyJobChart This chore app emphasizes financial responsibility and the value of hard work through its points and rewards system. Kids earn points that are funded by real money from parents, which can be saved in an account opened with the site or through your bank. Not only can kids watch their balances grow, they can choose how to spend it through MyJobChart’s online Amazon kids store or donate points to a charity of their choice. MyJobChart, developed by a Phoenix company, is free and available on iOS and Android devices. myjobchart.com.
Chore Pad The very user-friendly interface allows parents to access each child’s chart with a quick tap of his or her card on the app, showing the child’s progress for the week. Kids can pick the theme of their chart, and parents can log in and track chore progress, see star tallies (this app uses stars as its chore currency instead of points) and revise rewards. Chore Pad also lets parents issue modifiers to increase or decrease star values when a child does either exceptional work or an unsatisfactory job. Chore Pad is available on iOS devices and is $4.99, but there’s a free “light” version. nannek.com.
Getting organized in class
Evernote This app lets kids organize “notes” — photos, voice memos, formatted text, web pages — into customizable “notebooks.” Each note is searchable and can be edited, tagged, commented on and more. Notebooks can be exported or easily organized into projects and presentations. Notes can be synchronized across all your kids’ devices. This app is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and more. Basic plans are free with a 60 MB limit of new uploads per month; upgraded plans range from $24.99 to $49.99 per year for more memory and features. evernote.com.
MyHomework This multifunctional app allows students to track assignments, projects and tests. It keeps class schedules and alerts kids when assignments are due. Your child’s school may already be a participant in myHomework’s Teachers.io app, where instuctors can upload files, due dates and announcements. The free myHomework app is available on Apple and Android devices, Chromebooks, Windows and Mac. The premium version is $4.99 per year. myhomeworkapp.com.
InClass If your child’s class allows tablets, this app can record audio notes, video lectures and store snapshots of the day’s lessons. InClass also tackles class notes and educational file-sharing for peer-to-peer learning with its StudyRoom feature. The free app is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod. Add-ons, such as a drawing tool or no advertising, are 99 cents. inclass.com.
Complete Class Organizer Geared toward classroom success, this app combines lecture recording and note-taking with grade calculation and detailed class schedules. Complete Class Organizer also features Google Doc and Dropbox synchronization, and it has a built-in web browser with access to popular reference sites Google and Wikipedia. Best of all, the app’s recording/note-sync function lets students tap any word in their notes and it will play back exactly what the teacher was saying at the time. This app is available on iOS and is $4.99 at completeclassorganizer.com.
Remind It’s all about communication with this notification-focused app, which has the potential to eliminate the need for paper handouts and emails. Teachers can set up a class group to relay important information, homework deadlines, changes in agendas or just words of encouragement with scheduled or spontaneous communication. They can also update and chat directly with parents about assignments via text, video or voice recordings. Conversation history cannot be deleted, and teachers can see which students have read sent messages. Because the system is app-based, there is no sharing of phone numbers. Remind is free and available for both iOS and Android operating systems. remind.com.Tags: applications, apps, Biblionasium, Chore Pad, ChoreMonster, Complete Class Organizer, Evernote, family calendar, family schedules, homework, InClass, MyHomework, MyJobChart, organization, OurHome, parenting, Raising Arizona Kids, Remind, school, SelfControl, StudyBlue, technology
◀ Helping Hands for Single Moms offers mentoring, scholarships || Skate Rising boosts girls’ self-confidence, advocacy, empathy ▶
Staff writer Dani Horn is the mother of Victoria (11) and Remy (7).