20 Tech-Savvy Ways to Connect With Your Kid's Classroom

From updates via the teacher's smartphone to watching lessons live via webcam, tech tools are making it easier than ever to be involved in school life.
Paul Thorburn

1. Get All the Details

ClassDojo and Seesaw are popular apps for daily info. “My favorite part of ClassDojo is the pictures that my son’s teacher sends. I love seeing him have fun during the day,” says Kourtney Fargie, of San Angelo, Texas. Preschool parents benefit from apps like HiMama and Tadpoles, which track meals, naps, and trips to the bathroom. 

2. Know His Grade

You’ll be at the mercy of whichever app and website your school chooses to use, but the bottom line is that you’ll always know how your kid is doing. You can get notifications each time a new grade comes in via apps like Blackboard or Aspen Student Information System. 

3. Keep Up With the Class

Weebly is one platform teachers use to build and maintain a class website. “I put my weekly newsletter, photos, videos, homework, and pen-pal updates on my Weebly site,” says Shiela Lee, a second-grade teacher in New York City. “It’s a onestop place for my families.”

4. Watch What Happens Live

Some schools will let you view the classroom anytime, by logging in with a PIN code. Parents who have a kid in a Children of America preschool, for instance, can look in from anywhere in the world by following a livestream of their classroom on AlwaysCloseBy.com (for a small fee per month).

5. Smartboards

Huge interactive boards now supplement blackboards and replace overhead projectors in classrooms, keeping kids engaged. 

6. Tablets

“My son Eli has iPads in kindergarten for Fun Friday,” says Ken Shuman, of San Francisco. Jen Brittain, a kindergarten teacher in Morganton, North Carolina, uses them to reinforce basic skills on each child’s instructional level. “We have the Reading Eggs and Mathseeds apps. I get progress reports on each student, which I use to drive my instruction. Parents can log in at home to view their child’s lessons, and that’s a great connection between home and school.”

7. Google Classroom

Working on a project at school? Your student can log in at home and pick up where she left off. Plus teachers can ask questions, post comments and suggestions, and interact with students in real time.

8. Supplies

Teachers need tissues. And crayons. And paper towels. And on and on. Your teacher can put his classroom needs in an Amazon Wish List and share the link with parents, so you can make like a fairy godmother and grant wishes.

9. Big Wants

DonorsChoose.org makes it easy to give. Educators use it to raise money for anything from seats (seriously, some teachers don’t have enough chairs) to class projects and field trips. You can even donate to a school that’s a lot needier than your own. 

10. Cash Collection

No more twenties in an envelope. When it comes time to thank the teacher, cash collections can be done via Venmo and turned into a gift card at the end. Or use it to repay a mom who fronts the gift from the class.

11. School Auction

If you can’t be there in person, BiddingForGood lets you place a bid from your couch. 

12. VocabularySpellingCity

Run spelling and vocabulary drills here or on the app. You fill in the words, then turn it over to your child for a series of fun quizzes.

13. A+ Spelling Test

This app is another way to help your kid nail weekly sight (or is it site?) words. Input the class word list or just choose one based on her age.

14. BrainPOP

Animated videos—online and on an app—cover a bazillion subjects, from how our government works to math concepts such as probability.

15. Flocabulary

Lessons are more likely to stick when accompanied by a funky beat! This site and app features 800+ lessons on all sorts of topics, perfect for “the hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop” history lesson. 

16. IXL

Great for practicing math, language, and science skills, all divided by grade.

17. KhanAcademy

A video tutorial can make a concept click for your child. And when he asks you how to divide fractions, it might be you watching. 

18. Makerspace

It’s the 2017 version of shop class. Kids are challenged to create using science with tools such as littleBits or a 3-D printer.

19. Virtual Reality

Sure, kids can read about Mount Rushmore, but what about visiting through a virtual-reality headset? It’s starting to happen.

20. Outdoor Classrooms

Learning spaces without ceilings are everywhere these days. Kids may learn traditionally and face a teacher as he speaks—but sit on tree stumps. Or spaces might be for gardening and nature exploration. See, not all advances are high-tech!

Parents Magazine

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