The first day of school pictures have been posted. The school supplies have been purchased. Now, your child is settling into their new routine.
All the worrying should be over, right?
The beginning of school is just the start of a whole new set of worries for any parent of a school-aged child. Along with making sure they’re keeping up with their studies, you may also find yourself worrying about parts of their lives that are a bit harder to control.
Like any parent, you may find that you’re worried about homework, bullying, safety, screen time, your child’s stress level, or just making sure that everyone gets where they’re supposed to be on time.
Thankfully, there are a wealth of websites and apps available to help you and your child make this school year as worry-free as possible.
Balance Busy Schedules
One of the craziest parts of having children in school is trying to keep track of their various extracurriculars, homework, and chores. While still trying to accomplish everything that you need to do during the day!
Try an app like Cozi (available for Windows, Android, and iOS). This is a free family organizer that can help you keep track of your entire family’s schedule in one convenient app.
The app features a color-coded calendar that each family member can access from their smartphone, tablet, or browser. You can also use Cozi to create shopping lists, to-do lists, plan meals, and to keep a family journal.
If your children are still too young to appreciate a full-fledged calendar app like Cozi, you might want to set them up with a calendar of their own. An app like Week Planner for Kids offers younger children a simplified calendar tailored to their schedules.
This kind of visual calendar can be great for preparing children for the day ahead and helping to prevent meltdowns!
While these dedicated apps are great choices, Google Calendar is also a great option for group scheduling, especially if you’re already used to the platform!
Bullying is one of the most difficult situations that you and your child may face during their time in school. Because of how difficult these situations can be, it can be hard to talk to your child about what they are going through.
A great first step to take is to educate yourself and your child about what bullying is. As a parent, you also need to investigate the position that your local schools and government have taken on the issue.
Some great bullying resources include:
- Prevnet.ca (a project of the Canadian government)
- Stopbullying.gov (a project of the United States government)
These three sites are very helpful when it comes to knowing the local and national laws related to bullying. They offer tips on how to talk to your child about bullying, and how to be an advocate for your child within their school.
If you’re still not sure how to get the conversation with your child started, try an app like KnowBullying (created by a division of the United States government). This app offers conversation starters that you can use to have open and effective dialogue with your child.
Finally, it’s also important to mention that some schools (such as schools in British Columbia, Canada) are moving towards a web-based bullying reporting system. Check with your school board to see if they are using or considering a similar program, or if they prefer bullying to be reported in another way.
It’s difficult to watch someone you love be affected by extreme stress, and this is even more true when it’s happening to your child.
Remember that children may not experience stress in the same way as adults. Children do not always have the words to tell adults that they are feeling “stressed”. Instead, they may say that they feel sick, are unable to sleep, or refuse to go to school.
Stress can have an enormous negative impact on developing children and teens. Ensure that your child is getting enough sleep, has a safe space to talk, and is eating well. To help significantly with stress levels, you may also want to try some of the following tools.
One great option for younger children is a guided meditation video. Guided meditation is a great way to relax one’s body and mind, as the narrator leads you through an imaginary story.
There are a wide variety of these videos available on YouTube (including ones for teens and adults), and you can work with your child to find stories that they enjoy listening to most.
Another fantastic choice is PositivePenguins, an app dedicated to helping children name and identify their emotions, understand why they feel that way, challenge negative thoughts, and create positive thought patterns.
This app works best if you do the activity with your child, so that you can follow the discussion prompts and link them specifically to your child’s situation.
Older children and teenagers may prefer meditation apps such as Mindshift or Headspace. Both of these apps allow users to track their emotions and offer helpful solutions (including meditation options) for dealing with anxiety.
Other Resources for Stressed Children and Teens
While in an ideal world your child would always come to you with their problems, they may feel like they are unable to do so. Be sure that your child knows there are safe people to talk to on helplines or their associated chatrooms. It may not be ideal, but at least you know your child is speaking to a positive adult influence who has been trained to guide them through their problems in a safe way.
- Kids Helpline — 1800 55 1800 (Australia only)
- Kids Help Phone — 1-800-668-6868 (Canada only) [No Longer Available]
- BullyingUK — 0808 800 2222 (UK only)
- National Youth Crisis Hotline — 800-442-4673 (US only, you may also have a state-specific hotline available to you)
- CrisisChat.org — (a text-based messaging system if your teen isn’t comfortable speaking on the phone)
Keeping track of homework can be very difficult for children and teenagers!
Theses apps guide users through listing all of their assignments, breaking assignments down into smaller tasks, and keeping track of the grades they receive throughout the year. These apps will also send reminders when an assignment due date is approaching so that parents don’t have to!
For younger children who may be reluctant readers, you might want to try reading-rewards.com. This site is kind of like Goodreads for children. It allows them to track the books that they’ve read, see which books their friends are reading, and maybe even work towards a reward for finishing a certain number of books.
The internet is also a great source for online math worksheets or spelling activities [Broken Link Removed] if your child needs some extra practice in those areas.
It can be an uphill task to monitor the amount of time your child spends on their phone or online. The internet after all is their main means for completing homework, talking to friends, and playing games.
Several monitoring software systems are available online for use, but it’s difficult to know how to keep your child safe online while also allowing them their privacy.
One compromise that you may choose to use is a tool such as SelfControl (Free) or FocusMe (paid). These tools allow you to blacklist and whitelist certain sites completely, as well as set time limits for specific websites. This way, you can allow your child to work on their homework online, while also being sure that they aren’t on Facebook at the same time.
It can be hard to keep track of what your child is doing online or on their phone. Start with awareness of the apps they are using and the websites they are visiting. This can be the begining of honest conversations with them about the risks that they may be taking and how to avoid/deal with cyberbullying.
Take a Deep Breath
It’s always anxiety-provoking when your child begins something new, and a new school year is no exception. The best thing that you can do for your child is to be involved in their life by having conversations about their day, asking about their friends, and making sure they know that you are a safe place to turn for advice.
What apps and websites are keeping you and your family sane during back to school season? I’d love to hear your secrets for making your family run smoothly in the comments!
Image Credits: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock