It’s that time of the year again. A fun summer with lazy days and adventures has come to an end and the kids are back at school. For those of you with children, you know that this time of year usually means a crazy amount of shopping for school clothes, school supplies, new shoes, backpacks and for those with kids in an after-school sport or band there is the added expenses of an instrument, a choir outfit or sports gear. It’s the time of the year I dread. Not because of all the shopping, (confession: I find that fun), and not because the kids go back to school, because let’s face it: Two and a half months of 24/7 non-stop parenting…er…bonding is enough to drive any sane person crazy. No, what I absolutely hate the most are the mountains of paper that are brought home that first week of school. I spend tedious hours of filling out page after page and reading piles of paper filled with important information about this, that and the other.
However, after nine years of being a part of this show, I am happy to say that it has become much easier. Not because I am now a pro at the game, but because of social media and other very helpful apps. This year, for instance I did most of my back to school clothes shopping online. Well-placed retargeting ads from brands like Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, and Nike popped up with deals not to be missed while I was on Facebook connecting with my Facebook friends. Going onto their sites and selecting clothing items by a click of a finger made shopping for my kiddos a breeze.
Gone are the days where your kids can come home and claim that there’s no homework for tomorrow or that they didn’t know there was a test. Remind, a helpful app used by many teachers and schools has you covered. At back-to-school orientation, teachers will give you their Remind class sign up info, and from here on you will receive everything you need to know about that class sent directly to your phone to be viewed at your convenience: Homework, reminders for quizzes, reminders for tests and retakes of tests etc. will be posted here. Teachers will also advise of classroom projects and due dates. The app is a lifesaver and makes keeping track of your children’s school activities and homework so much easier. Simply download the app and sign up for each of your kids’ classes and you are golden.
How many of you have heard, “I got 97% on my Science test” or “I have straight As in History” only to be surprised later that the report card shows no evidence of such academic glory, but rather paints a picture of gloom? HAC (Home Access Center), a system used by our schools, gives you access to every single class your child is taking, current grades and also retake grades. To make it even more convenient for you, teachers will post in Remind when your child’s grades have been updated in HAC.
New this year to our school district is the option to receive voicemail messages about your child sent directly to your phone in an email for your convenience. It can’t get much easier than that. I received one from the school transportation office advising the school bus was running late due to weather and another that pertained to my son. For people my age, it’s very convenient not having to look for your readers and instead just press play in order to retrieve the message.
Google Classroom is huge for todays’ schools. Students use Google Classroom for almost every single homework assignment, tests, quizzes, retests, projects etc., and they store their homework in the Google Drive. This makes it very easy for when your kid(s) have been off sick and need to catch up on schoolwork or if you’re taking vacation during school days. It also stores all your kids’ homework so you eliminate the “my dog ate my homework” scenario. Students can access the drive and their assignments from anywhere, and in the case of my children, enable them to work on their homework directly from their phones on the way home from school.
Twitter is a platform that is frequently used to communicate with students and parents alike. Teachers use the platform to connect with informal professional networks or to find links for educational resources. Often photos of class projects, a field trips or fun happenings in the classroom are posted here. My kids all follow their teachers on Twitter and love it when they are the star of the day. For more on Twitter in the educational world see our blog post “Tweet for #Education”.
Look, I am realistic. Trying to stay ahead of my kids when it comes to technology was a battle I started losing when the first one turned nine years old. But thankfully schools have worked hard to embrace technology, not only for parent communication, but also for engaging students to learn in an era where they must compete with YouTube and Social Media. I am grateful for that, because that is the world they will be living and working in when their school days are over. So now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to check Twitter to see if the buses are running on time today. Then I am going to feed my dogs, because there is no longer any homework for them to eat.