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Monday, February 27, 2017

12 cool apps for tracking homework, encouraging chores

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Being able to pull up all my kids’ chores on my phone has been a blessing and a curse. The convenience of assigning chores and special projects through a smartphone app as they pop into my head (as opposed to when I find a full load of laundry shoved underneath my daughter’s bed) can’t be matched.

I can also easily track earned — and more important, paid-out — allowance. (My son will seize on any doubt in my eyes that I’ve already doled out his money and demand immediate compensation.) The only drawback is how eager my children are to complete their chores. Yes, seriously.

Because my kids don’t yet have their own smartphones, they’re constantly asking for mine. They can’t resist the colorful, kid-friendly interface of ChoreMonster and its mini-games. The app lets them see tangible, real-time rewards. When their tasks are done well in advance, and they keep asking for extra chores, my finances can get tight quickly. (Sorry, sweetie, you’re going have to wait until Mommy’s direct deposit clears so she can pay you for all that extra doggie-doody duty and junk-drawer organizing.)

If your kids have their own phones or iPods, or you’re willing to hand yours over for the sake of a clean house and less chaos, here are a dozen apps for getting kids organized and on-track at home and in school.

Studying and staying on task

studyblueStudyBlue This innovative app allows college and high-school students to build their own crowd-sourced study guides and flashcards. Teachers and students register their classes, then begin creating and sharing flashcards and notes. Flashcards can incorporate text, audio and image files for more interactive learning. Online notes and flashcards can be organized into study guides for tests. StudyBlue is available on iOS and Android devices and is compatible with Evernote. Basic plans are free; upgraded versions are $7 to $9 per month. studyblue.com.

biblionasiumBiblionasium Book lovers and reluctant readers ages 6 to 13 can keep up with class reading or read for fun. Biblionasium incorporates social media by allowing kids to share book reviews and recommendations and talk about books. Teachers and parents can track assigned reading and search for age-appropriate titles based on a child’s interests and genre preferences. Kids can win awards and certificates for completed reading logs. This site is free. biblionasium.com.

selfcontrolSelfControl This simple-yet-effective app for Mac OS X helps kids — or even adults — stay on task while working online. Parents can block access to to any website added to a blacklist for a predetermined amount of time. Even if kids try to delete the app or restart the computer, access will not be restored until the timer is up. selfcontrolapp.com.

Getting things cleaned up

choremonsterChoreMonster Aimed at making chores fun for kids, this mobile and web app offers a point-based system that rewards kids for (parent-approved) completed tasks. Kids can purchase real-life rewards that parents have decided on, such as extra video-game time, a trip to their favorite amusement park, money and more. Parents and kids have separate log-ins, so chores can be checked anywhere, anytime. ChoreMonster is free. choremonster.com.

ourhomeOurHome This app offers another points-based format but with a small and important twist. OurHome is set up like a mini social network within your home. A private communications hub keeps kids and parents connected with messaging and notifications. Stay up to date on what chore you’ve assigned, how many points each chore is worth and what rewards are available. This free app is available on iTunes and Google Play. ourhomeapp.com.

myjobchartMyJobChart This chore app emphasizes financial responsibility and the value of hard work through its points and rewards system. Kids earn points that are funded by real money from parents, which can be saved in an account opened with the site or through your bank. Not only can kids watch their balances grow, they can choose how to spend it through MyJobChart’s online Amazon kids store or donate points to a charity of their choice. MyJobChart, developed by a Phoenix company, is free and available on iOS and Android devices. myjobchart.com.

chorepadChore Pad The very user-friendly interface allows parents to access each child’s chart with a quick tap of his or her card on the app, showing the child’s progress for the week. Kids can pick the theme of their chart, and parents can log in and track chore progress, see star tallies (this app uses stars as its chore currency instead of points) and revise rewards. Chore Pad also lets parents issue modifiers to increase or decrease star values when a child does either exceptional work or an unsatisfactory job. Chore Pad is available on iOS devices and is $4.99, but there’s a free “light” version. nannek.com.

Getting organized in class

evernoteEvernote This app lets kids organize “notes” — photos, voice memos, formatted text, web pages — into customizable “notebooks.” Each note is searchable and can be edited, tagged, commented on and more. Notebooks can be exported or easily organized into projects and presentations. Notes can be synchronized across all your kids’ devices. This app is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and more. Basic plans are free with a 60 MB limit of new uploads per month; upgraded plans range from $24.99 to $49.99 per year for more memory and features. evernote.com.

myhomeworkMyHomework This multifunctional app allows students to track assignments, projects and tests. It keeps class schedules and alerts kids when assignments are due. Your child’s school may already be a participant in myHomework’s Teachers.io app, where instuctors can upload files, due dates and announcements. The free myHomework app is available on Apple and Android devices, Chromebooks, Windows and Mac. The premium version is $4.99 per year. myhomeworkapp.com.

inclassInClass If your child’s class allows tablets, this app can record audio notes, video lectures and store snapshots of the day’s lessons. InClass also tackles class notes and educational file-sharing for peer-to-peer learning with its StudyRoom feature. The free app is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod. Add-ons, such as a drawing tool or no advertising, are 99 cents. inclass.com.

completeclassorganizerComplete Class Organizer Geared toward classroom success, this app combines lecture recording and note-taking with grade calculation and detailed class schedules. Complete Class Organizer also features Google Doc and Dropbox synchronization, and it has a built-in web browser with access to popular reference sites Google and Wikipedia. Best of all, the app’s recording/note-sync function lets students tap any word in their notes and it will play back exactly what the teacher was saying at the time. This app is available on iOS and is $4.99 at completeclassorganizer.com.

remindRemind It’s all about communication with this notification-focused app, which has the potential to eliminate the need for paper handouts and emails. Teachers can set up a class group to relay important information, homework deadlines, changes in agendas or just words of encouragement with scheduled or spontaneous communication. They can also update and chat directly with parents about assignments via text, video or voice recordings. Conversation history cannot be deleted, and teachers can see which students have read sent messages. Because the system is app-based, there is no sharing of phone numbers. Remind is free and available for both iOS and Android operating systems. remind.com.

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Dani Horn

Staff writer Dani Horn is the mother of Victoria (10) and Remy (6).

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