Back-to-school shopping, app style

Got the back to school blues? Leaving the freedom of summer behind is not just a bummer for kids, but parents, too. Back-to-school advertisements make school-supply shopping seem fun and easy, but in reality, school supply lists are chock-full of antiquated, expensive items that our little ones seldom use. That can all be changed with smartphone and tablet applications.

This year, get creative with your back-to-school shopping. Sit down with your kids and go item by item down the supply list and decide whether an app would do the job better.

For instance, paper school planners are pricey, get ripped or misplaced in a matter of days, and have limited functionality. Replace paper calendars and school planners with kid-friendly interactive calendar apps. These tools can help teach kids important time-management skills using colorful graphics and interactive features. Planners can be priced at $25, whereas an app may be free or within the $2-price range. Skillful savings!

You can do the same with any area of your child’s curriculum. For example, strengthen your child’s math skills with an interactive math app. Replace boring flashcards at a nominal cost with apps that count with your child and teach multiplication. Swap tired, worn workbook pages with apps that reinforce reading skills, and even allow your little ones to practice their handwriting.

Simply peruse the iTunes Store’s educational category to find kid-friendly apps. Some helpful search words to use are “kid’s calendar,” “student planner,” “teacher tools,” etc.

If you want expert advice, it is wise to check the ratings given by those who already use the app or the countless review sites devoted to ensuring that apps on the market live up to parents’ standards.

After you’ve done your homework, sit down with your kids to do some stress-free shopping in the comfort of your own home, instead of dragging them to the crowded mall!

Susan French is a kindergarten teacher, mentor, and math coach, working for the city’s Department of Education for more than 20 years. She is the author of the iTunes app 4Kidcal, which is designed to teach early childhood learners organization and time management.