Best Apps to Smooth Out Back-to-School Bumps


The last school year was anything but typical. This summer, many students enjoyed a much-needed break from online learning to revel in lazy days, running through sprinklers and chasing fireflies. With the first day of school approaching, though, parents are thinking about how to help kids transition from summer relaxation to September scholarship. Here are some apps that can ease kids back into learning mode for the fall.


Khan Academy is among the best apps available for learners of all ages. From preschool math to LSAT test prep, students can use Khan Academy courses to review or prepare for just about any subject imaginable. The interactive lessons allow users to practice skills, watch videos to explain confusing topics, and move on when a concept is mastered. Parents receive weekly updates about their children’s progress. Khan Academy is a fantastic tool for students to review the previous school year’s material or to preview the year to come. (Free; available for iOS and Android)


Quizlet is essentially an app for digital flashcards. Whether kids are reviewing multiplication tables, spelling words or nations and capitals, Quizlet helps them learn and memorize material in a fun and engaging way. The app has tons of prepared content, but users are also able to create their own flashcards specific to a particular set of vocabulary words or science terms. From reviewing basic addition facts to brushing up on French verbs, a few minutes of Quizlet practice every day can help students return to school feeling prepared, confident and ready to tackle the new year. (Free; available for iOS and Android)


DuoLingo lets students study languages at their own pace. If your child hasn’t heard a word of Spanish or German all summer, a few weeks of DuoLingo use can be a boon before heading back to foreign language classes this fall. First-time users take an initial assessment quiz, and the app tailors lessons to the learner’s specific needs. Languages include typical middle and high school course options alongside more eclectic offerings such as Turkish, Arabic, Portuguese, Navajo and Swahili. For the nerdiest learners among us, DuoLingo even has Klingon. (Free; available for iOS and Android)


Babbel is another great option for reviewing or learning a foreign language. The app boasts short, 20-minute lessons, and aims to teach students dialogue that would be applicable in real-life situations. Users can set a reminder to receive daily alerts prompting them to complete the next lesson. The free version of Babbel has more limited content but is sufficient to help users determine whether a paid subscription is worth the investment. (Free; available for iOS and Android)


The BrainPop Jr Movie of the Week app is geared toward younger learners, with a target audience of six- through eight-year-old children. The app provides a short and engaging video each week, with accompanying activities and quiz questions that help children practice critical thinking skills while learning about a new topic. Movies span most elementary school subject areas, including science, social studies, reading, writing, math, health, arts and technology. (Free; available for iOS and Android)


Staying organized can be a challenge for many students. The myHomework Student Planner app aims to address that issue by moving the student planner online. The app works across platforms, so students may record a homework assignment while working on their computer at school, then access it later via their smartphone. The app allows users to view the information via class, teacher, calendar or homework list, so students may customize the organizational strategy that works best for them. Reminders about assignments that are due or soon-to-be-due can help students stay on track. (Free; available for iOS and Android)


After a challenging academic year, students may find themselves feeling anxious about returning to school. Smiling Mind is an excellent mindfulness and meditation app for all ages. Smiling Mind offers sensory experiences like listening to music, as well as more traditional breathing and meditation exercises. With more than 300 free meditations, the app is an excellent resource for children and adults alike. (Free; available for iOS and Android)


While apple slices with peanut butter or a bowl full of goldfish crackers are solid afterschool snack options, sometimes mixing up the snack repertoire can make for happier afternoons. The Recipes for Kids – Cookbook Junior app has lots of great recipes that older kids can prepare independently and younger kids can tackle with an adult. From smoothies to wraps to cute bread triangles with monkey faces, the variety and creativity will keep snack-time fun. (Free; available for iOS and Android)


September is coming up fast. Brushing off the academic cobwebs—or even just planning a yummy snack for the first day of school—can help kids and parents make an easier adjustment to the beginning of the school year.

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