Best Apps for Dads with Kids Going Back to School
Keep Track of Events and Activities with These 9 Helpful Tools
Soon, summer will be over and the school bell will ring.
We will all be off-and-running with the structured chaos that comes with having the kids back in school, band, sports, and other extracurricular activities.
When I was young, that meant me arriving home from school with a backpack stuffed with a crumpled mess of papers. Everything, including graded papers, homework assignments, school notices, and teacher notes, were wadded and crammed into that backpack with the intent of them making it into the hands of my parents.
I was a responsible and compliant kid, so my odds of delivering this school-to-parent communication was pretty good, but I know that wasn’t true for everyone.
Going in the reverse direction, I was responsible for delivering back to the school the parent-signed forms, report cards, and hand-scribbled notes.
And it was just a crap-shoot for families to know whether school would be closed for weather or other reasons.
This “old-school” form of parent-teacher communication was better than the Pony Express, but not by much. Oh, how things have changed! Or, at least, they should be.
Communicating with Your Child’s School
Schools and Teachers are Embracing Today’s Technology
Today, it is common to rely on information from school and classroom websites, emails, text messages, and tweets for communication and parent/student updates.
Parents and teachers have direct contact and students also have opportunities for direct access to teachers outside of school hours. More recently, a huge variety of smartphone apps are being employed for even more personal interaction.
If you have kids in school now, you likely have access to one or more of these tools. If you are not already taking advantage of them, you should plan on doing so with the new school year. As with all other technology, things may have changed since last year, and are only getting better.
If your child’s teacher has not set up an easy means of communication, you may want to check out some of these popular apps and suggest they try one.
An easy to use location-based social media app that allows immediate parent feedback on a private network on postings and photographs of such things as classroom activity and field trips.
App Store Description: “…BuzzMob is a simple and intuitive way to connect with your school community through a customized private mobile platform and web portal. Join your school or classroom to be connected with fellow teachers, parents, and students. BuzzMob allows you to send messages, share photos, videos, and receive vital information in real-time. Receive emergency response and important notifications regarding homework assignments, event dates, or general updates in a safe and private network. BuzzMob is a multi-function app that acts as a highly effective communication resource for school communities across the United States and across the World…”
The Teacher App & Grade Book
A free app that can encourage collaboration between teachers, parents, and students using messaging, an interactive calendar, event notification, and course grade notification.
App Store Description: “…Our Teacher App & Grade Book messaging system will allow users to simply send individual, or group messages in a short period of time. Teachers will love using each feature to enhance their classrooms, and reduce their overall workload. The teacher user interface will allow them to send important messages to parents, students, and/or other teachers in a matter of seconds. Teachers will be able to add events to the class calendar for parents and students to view. Teachers will also be able to add attachments, grades, student notes, and student attendance records to keep parents and students informed…”
Remind (Formerly Remind101)
An app that lets teachers create an account and which allows parents to join simply with a single text message. It makes it easy to send reminders of class events and daily activities that may need parents’ or students’ attention.
App Store Description: “…Remind (formerly Remind101) is a communication app that helps school communities connect quickly and efficiently. More than 23 million educators, students, and parents use Remind in over 90% of U.S. public school districts.
* Real-time messaging for your school, group, or just a single person.
* Send text messages to any phone.
* Translate messages into more than 70 languages.
* Attach photos, newsletters, and other files.
* See who’s read your messages and who’s missing out…”
G Suite for Education (Formerly Google Apps for Education)
A free suite of productivity tools which helps keep parents “in the know” on their children’s progress in class by logging on and checking grades and communicating with teachers.
App Store Description: “…Classroom makes it easy for learners and instructors to connect—inside and outside of schools. Classroom saves time and paper, and makes it easy to create classes, distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organized…”
Offers a more personalized way for teachers and parents to connect and engage directly.
App Store Description: “…Easily Capture Student Learning in Any Form
∙ Students can use photos, videos, drawings, text notes, links or PDFs to show what they know and store evidence in their digital portfolio. You can also import directly from over 100 other apps.
∙ When students add to Seesaw, content is uploaded, organized by student, and accessible from any device.
∙ Teachers can browse work from the entire class or for a single student. Optionally, use folders to organize work by subject area project, or assessment standard.
∙ Teachers can flag items in the digital portfolio for follow up or to review at parent-teacher conferences…”
Also offers communication and calendaring tools.
App Store Description: “…LivingTree was built by parents for parents, to connect all the people who work together to raise and teach our kids in one safe place. We believe the journey of parenting is awesome – LivingTree’s patent pending architecture uniquely builds around each child / family unit allowing groups and organizations to snap into the communication flow seamlessly and where relevant….a single point of connection for families, classes, teams, groups, and organizations…”
This app is used by day care centers and preschools to connect with parents.
App Store Description: “…Wimlo – is the only app that connects you with preschools, teachers, other parents, and–most importantly–your child. We capture and preserve the daily smiles and milestones that happen while your child is at school. We keep you up to date on what’s happening in the classroom so you can continue that learning at home. Plus, we give you an exclusive private forum and marketplace to interact and share with other local parents. No matter where you are, Wimlo connects you with what matters most…”
Another classroom communication platform with plenty of tools and features.
Website Description: “…Classloom is a 100% free social platform dedicated to help parents and teachers share information with each other and have better and more qualified communication…”
A free web-based directory.
Facebook Description: “…Free Staff, Parent and Student Directory. Sign Up Lists, Parent Teacher Conferences, and Messaging. Parent Portal – Including Blogs, Galleries, Calendar and more…”
Do some research on these, and scores of other apps, to find the right fit for your situation. If your school, or teacher does not use an easy means of communication, offer some options.
Never post anything to a public forum that contains anyone’s personal or identifiable information. Keep in mind that others may define “private” in a different way than you do. Always keep posts brief, informative, professional, and as positive as possible.
Despite the many new options for digital communication, do not forget about good old-fashioned personal interaction:
- Attend all school orientations and parent-teacher conferences
- Volunteer in your child’s classroom or to participate in school events
- Call and speak with your child’s teacher or schedule a meeting to discuss issues of concern
- Be very cautious of emails which can be easily misinterpreted, despite the best of intentions
With open communication and a regular exchange of information, parents can stay on top of what is happening in the classroom, teachers can stay focused on in-class learning, and students can be more accountable for their own performance.
Effective communication between educators, parents, and students is essential to success and productivity.
It only makes sense to be proactive and take advantage of the many tools available to you to get on top the parenting game.
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