Summer break is almost over for most Bay Area students, and that means another annual ritual begins: Going back to school.
Depending upon your children’s grade level, school schedule, temperament, activities and enrollment in after-school programs, keeping track of their daily routines and responsibilities can seem as overwhelming as, say, trying to get into Yosemite National Park over Labor Day weekend. (Hint: Stay home.)
But many free or affordable back-to-school apps can help out in a variety of circumstances. Here’s a look at some apps that can make returning to school easier for parents and students.
“We always start with the student,” said Keith Entzeroth, founder and chief executive of MyHomework and its student-organization app. “We think organization and time management are the most-critical skills for a student to take beyond the classroom.”
The MyHomework app viewed on an Apple iPad.
MyHomework is an app just for that: schedule organizing. The app lets students put their school assignments, class schedules and any other upcoming events into a calendar and then sync that information across all kinds of platforms, whether it’s on an iPhone, Android device, desktop PC or even an Amazon Kindle.
The basic app is free, but comes with advertisements to help MyHomework pay its bills. For $4.99 a year, a student can get a version of MyHomework that allows for the use of different themes across the app, attaching files to schedules and no ads.
If you have kids, then you have watched them come home from school nearly every day with anywhere between one and what seems like a million pieces of artwork. And never mind the stuff they do at home. You’ve probably redecorated your walls with everything from a drawing your daughter made of your family on vacation in Hawaii, to a picture of a car she drew that looks more like the aftermath of a car wreck than a Tesla.
The Artkive art-curation app as seen on the screen of an iPhone.
And then there are the boxes upon boxes of “art” that you have saved, which turned your home into an obstacle course. You want to get rid of all that stuff, but you know that if your kids catch you doing that, there will be a waterfall of tears and a cacophony of crying louder than a Metallica concert.
“We try to turn the table on disappointment,” said Jedd Gold, co-founder of Artkive. The app lets you take pictures of your children’s artwork and then automatically tags the photos so you know which child did which picture, and uploads them in chronological order to Artkive’s cloud-based storage. The service then lets a parent order a book with all the necessary artwork that could, for example chronicle a child’s school year.
The app is free, but Artkive does charge for any books that are ordered. The company also offers a service where people can send in their physical artwork to be curated into a book of their choosing.
Tutoring has become a big part of education these days, both for the students and the tutors. And Clark, a new app on the market, is meant to make the tutorial process easier for everyone involved.
“It’s a virtual assistant for a tutor,” said Megan O’Connor, co-founder and CEO of Clark. “There’s a lot a friction that goes into managing tutoring, like billing and scheduling, and a lot of lost time, too. Clark is made to manage that work and make it easier to handle.”
The Clark tutoring management app image is featured on a smartphone and laptop.
The app is also designed so that parents can streamline and track their student’s tutoring process. And for students, Clark said, “They get session reports, and it’s designed to help them celebrate milestones and moments to let them know when they’ve reached a goal.”
O’Connor said she named the company Clark as “a throwback to Clark Kent, who looked like a nerd on the outside, but was a superhero on the inside.” O’Connor said the inspiration for the company came from her mother, a teacher in the San Jose area who also provided tutoring services to supplement her income.
Clark has also benefited from being featured in an episode of the Apple Music series “Planet of the Apps.” The company did well enough to secure $2.2 million in funding from “Apps” host and noted investor Gary Vaynerchuk.
Going back to school is more than just getting kids to and from the school’s front door. Add in sports, clubs and visiting friends to the mix, and suddenly it can seem like your home’s living room is little more than an on-ramp for the next trip down the highway.
The screen of the Life360 app showing a map of family members in different locations.
Alex Haro, co-founder and chief technology officer of Life360, said the purpose of the company’s app is to help families handle the mobility issues that come with kids getting older and more active, and keep track of where everyone is at a particular time. The app lets people check in at locations, keeps track of their movements, and provides notifications to family members using the app so that parents can know if their kids are where they say they are going to be.
“The app is for families that want help with everyday communication and coordination,” Haro said. ” Who’s cooking dinner. Who’s at home. How everyone’s been driving. You can set up location notifications around home and school.”
The basic version of Life360 is free, with two days of location history stored and location alerts among the features, Haro said. An enhanced version, for $2.99 a month or $24.99 a year, comes with 30 days of location history, unlimited place location and a 24-hour support service. The purpose of the app is to help deal with the reality of having kids who have their own active lives outside the home, Haro said.
“We’re focused on the pain points of everyday family life,” Haro said. “Once your kid starts to roam, you’re going to give them more freedom.”
Whatever your back-to-school needs may be, there’s an app for that. Here’s where to find the apps mentioned in this story.
Artkive: https://www. artkiveapp.com
MyHomework: https:// myhomeworkapp.com