happy children using smart technology

Back-to-School Tech for Your Kids

Updated August 2, 2021 . AmFam Team

As you prepare the kids for another school year, take a look at the way technology can help them be more productive students. From hardware to apps to monitoring software, we’ll help you make sure your kids are back-to-school ready.

As your kids head into another school year, you’ll find there’s a lot of great tech available to help them learn. As new accessories and smart toys find their way on to the shelves, you may not be sure whether these new arrivals are worthwhile. That’s where our tips on smart technology comes in — to help you understand how new tech is changing the way kids are learning.

Tech for the New School Year

With the help of new innovations and inventions, your children can stay more focused and keep better organized all year long. Technology like this can be a huge help as they navigate a year that may require a mix of in person and virtual learning. These new tools can help them manage their workload more efficiently — helping them grow into more engaged, successful students.

Start with a wake up light. Boasting the ability to simulate the light of a sunrise, wake up light makers are helping families get their kids out of bed and off to school on time. These lights also slowly dim to help kids settle into bed and get the rest they need at bedtime.

Smart pens listen while your kid takes notes. Get more out of each lesson with a pen that records audio while the student’s writing down the details. Working in tandem with a smartphone app, your kids can review handwritten notes and their lesson as well. Students can collaborate, organize, tag and share the content, too.

Invest in a personal laptop, tablet or Chromebook. Even if the school provides a laptop for school, your kids will want something for learning that is all their own. You don’t need to drop a lot of cash on a smart device either. Find a good refurbished or used device. eBay and local fix-it computer stores are great for sourcing tech like these. Be sure you’re picking up a tech with a solid state drive (SSD). Kids drop things all the time and laptops that rely on a spinning hard drive (HDD) are more vulnerable to damage. Don’t forget to install a good word processor or get them a Google account so they can work in the cloud on Google Docs for free.

Reduce the clutter with noise-cancelling headphones. Kids can easily be distracted. Whether in person or learning virtually, noise-cancelling headphones can help increase their focus. A wide array of wireless headphones is available at many price points, so you’ll be able to find a pair that matches your budget. Kids will love that they can zone in, get their work done and back to playing!

Get a lightweight, Bluetooth-enabled keyboard. Kids can work more efficiently on assignments when they’re typing, even when used with a phone or other mobile device.

Look at smart digital notebooks. Here’s how this tech works: your kids take notes with a special pen in a digital notebook, then they photograph their work with a related app. From there, it’s uploaded to the cloud and can then be tagged, stored and shared. Because many kids learn better when they’re writing things down, they’re likely to retain more of what they learn.  

High-tech Apps Can Enhance Learning

Psychologists and educators have known for years about the benefits meditation has on growing minds. As the new school year unfolds, give your kids the gift of focus with new educational technology that helps sharpen their awareness and improve retention.

Download a meditation app. Along with new tech is new research that has helped grade schoolers get into mindfulness. Guided meditations that work in concert with a good set of headphones can transform your kid’s ability to focus and grow into caring, compassionate adults. Explore apps like Mindful Powers and Smiling Mind.

Get the apps that your kids are using in school. This is one great way to help bridge the divide between school and home. Set aside some time with your kids and learn about what they’re exploring when they use school tech and apps. It’s a great way to segue into how their day went and help them share more details about their time at school.

Spice up study time with a vocabulary app. Magoosh and Vocabulary Builder are two examples of apps that help older kids get a head start on words they’ll find on those college entrance exams like the SATs one day. You can focus on words in a given area of study. Plus, they’ll be primed for the upcoming spelling bee!

Help visual learners thrive. If your kid is a non-traditional learner, apps like Popplet can help them make more sense of the things they’re learning. With tools that help kids create mind maps, diagrams and “mood boards,” they can organize their thoughts in a more cohesive way that can help them with problem solving. It can also help them design outlines, essays and will assist in navigating the complexities of class projects.

Limit Screen Time and Monitor Your Kid’s Internet Use

Balancing the way kids consume tech and limiting screen time can be tricky. Several products on the market help to ration their WiFi time. Take a look at these great kid-friendly tech ideas that can help get their heads into their homework and out of the home entertainment cloud:

Limit WiFi activity when it’s time to put pen to paper. Homework still involves writing out essays and crunching numbers. By installing a WiFi blocking tool that limits access to the internet during homework hours, your kids will be more likely to hunker down and get their work done.

Install parental control apps on all their tech. The idea of installing, syncing and monitoring your kid’s online activity can be a bit daunting. The latest versions of parental control software helps to make it less painful with a more intuitive design than previous models. Good parental control options include Qustodio, Net Nanny and Symantic Norton Family Premier. Many of these products can help safeguard your online identity as well.

Leverage the phone’s operating system to limit apps. The latest operating systems of both iPhone and Android allow you to set limits on app screen time. Take a look online for tutorials that walk you through these spaces and help your kids build healthy screen time habits.

Track their social media activity and protect them online. If your kids have a phone or use social media, you’ll want to know they’re using it safely. Apps like Spy Bubble and Webwatcher can help you understand the way they’re using social media. They’re able to deliver you text message strings from their phone and internet browsing history, allowing you more transparency for middle school and high school students activities.

e-Calendars and Organizing Technology for Kids

As project-based learning becomes more of a staple in the classroom, kids can make use of great tech that helps them to set up project goals. Here are a few go-to apps that can assist your kids with staying organized and on-task throughout the school year. By giving them a hand and working with them on setting up the calendar, you’ll have a better idea of how they’re progressing and you’ll know when assignments are due.

Leverage project management apps. Look at apps like myHomework and Evernote which helps kids with reminders, dates and details on when tests are occurring. Deadline tracking can help distractible kids stay focused.

Study better with a flashcard app. Boost memory and retention with smart flashcard apps like Flashcards Deluxe and StudyBlue. From building quizzes compiled from your kid’s cards to offering an on-board content library for exploring related material, these personalized learning tools help to sharpen your kids testing skills.

And there it is. In no time at all, you’re up to speed on how today’s tech can help your children out in the classroom and at home. With all the ways to learn and grow, it’s a great time to be a kid.

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