Learning Apps & Tools

Make Life Easier: 15 Back-to-School Apps Your Student Needs

Track the school bus as it approaches, streamline bibliographies, submit permission slips digitally, and generally master the executive functions needed to succeed at school with these innovative mobile apps for students, teachers, and parents.

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Class Dojo

iOS, Android

The transition from beach and sand to desk and chair is rough for most kids; it can be excruciating for students with ADHD, who may exhibit problem behaviors as they work through back-to-school frustrations. The Class Dojo app allows teachers and parents to collaborate on improving and refining classroom behavior in the Fall — and all year long. Class Dojo is more than a token system; it translates specific positive feedback from teachers — like, “Evan has been participating well in class discussions” — into real, tangible rewards and results. Added bonus: parents can choose to receive updates on their child’s behavior (including pictures) in real time.

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Here Comes the Bus

iOS, Android

The first time your child misses the bus, it’s annoying. By the fifth time — or the tenth, or the fortieth — you’re veering toward a major Mom meltdown. Fix the problem with the Here Comes the Bus app, which tracks your child’s school bus and sends real-time alerts when it’s getting close. After school, you can use the app to ensure your child got off at the right stop — bringing some peace of mind to parents of impulsive or easily distracted kids. Step One: Encourage your school district to opt in by bringing it up at your next PTA meeting — explain to school officials that if it reduces tardiness and student stress, it’s more than worth the effort on their part!

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Study Stack

iOS, Android

Studying is a chore. For students with ADHD, who struggle with focus, working memory, and repetitive tasks, it can be downright torturous. Make memorization more hands-on and fun with the Study Stack app, which enables your child to create her own unique flashcards — on any topic she likes — and turn them into an exciting game that makes studying its own reward. Students can share flashcards with each other within the app, too, making group studying more productive than ever.

[Free Download: Teacher-Approved Apps & Tools for School]

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iOS, Android

Students depend on their fine motor skills for everything from holding a pencil to tying their shoes — and when those skills are underdeveloped, a child’s grades, friendships, and self-esteem can suffer. Help build these critical skills with the Dexteria app, which uses hand exercises (based off occupational therapy techniques) to improve fine motor skills from kindergarten to adulthood. And for preschool-age kids, there’s the Dexteria Junior app, specifically designed to develop handwriting readiness in children under the age of 6.

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iOS, Android

Students learn best when lessons are fun and engaging — but it’s rarely easy for teachers to transform historical timelines or math facts into a thrilling game. The free app Kahoot can make a big difference. Teachers simply input their questions and answers; students use any web browser as a “buzzer” to play along in a round of fast-paced trivia — game show style!

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LaLa Lunchbox

Free to download; $1.99/each for additional dietary plans

Medication side effects, picky palates, and sensory processing challenges all conspire to blunt your child’s appetite. But research suggests that kids are more likely to eat meals they get a say in planning, which is where the LaLa Lunchbox app comes in. Parents and kids work together — with the help of fun monster avatars — to plan healthy lunches and snacks that even picky eaters will devour. Children with food allergies or sensitivities will benefit from special nut-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, or kosher meal suggestions, each one of which is curated by a registered dietician.

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If the fridge is running out of room to hang your child’s latest work of art, start archiving her masterpieces with the Artkive app, the easiest way to celebrate and store your child’s creative output. Simply snap a picture of her latest painting, tag it, date it, and voila — you have a beautiful, searchable portfolio of your child’s best work. Select images to be bound into hardcover books, which make great gifts and precious keepsakes.

[Stay Focused & Finish Your Homework with These 3 Apps]

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Your child knows he must cite his sources, but the process of creating a complex and accurate bibliography stresses his executive functioning skills to the max. Streamline this tedious process with EasyBib, which makes citing almost any written resource — in one of more than 7,000 citation styles, including APA, MLA, and Chicago — easier than ever. With the bibliography out of the way, your child can focus his effort where it really counts: toward writing his research paper!

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iOS, Android
Free for basic version; $4.99/month for Pro

Your child is expected to bring home the permission slip, remember it, secure a parent’s signature, and then return it to the teacher — all without losing or destroying it. That is asking a lot of a child with ADHD or poor executive functioning, as you well know. To relieve some pressure, ask your child’s teachers to download Classtree, an easy-to-use app that allows parents and teachers to share permission slips, information forms, and other documents — totally digitally. Plus, the app allows teachers to remind forgetful parents in private — perfect for Moms and Dads who have ADHD, too.

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iOS, Android
Free for basic version; $0.99/month for Supporter version

Your child needs a little math guidance from time to time, but your last Algebra 2 class was 25 years ago. A better tutor might be the Photomath app, which can help a struggling student learn or reinforce math skills during homework time. Simply take a picture of the problem, and the app will solve — and explain — the final answer. This may seem like cheating — and can certainly be used that way, if not properly monitored — but the app’s step-by-step instructions and straightforward tips help ensure that your child feels clear and confident about every problem.

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Free for basic version; $9.99/month for Premium

ADHD commonly overlaps with reading and writing challenges like dyslexia and dysgraphia, which may impact a child’s grammar, spelling, and handwriting. As your child ages, her teachers may have less patience for these mistakes and her grades may suffer — even with an IEP or 504 Plan. One solution is the GradeProof app, which checks over writing assignments for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors; it also provides easy-to-follow tips for improving clarity and strengthening the piece’s main ideas. The app checks for instances of plagiarism, too.

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My Study Life

iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Web

The My Study Life app is the perfect digital organizer for any smartphone user, promising to be “everything your paper planner is — and more.” Your child can track upcoming assignments, get impending test notifications, and back up all her assignments to the cloud — making it much less likely she’ll lose her homework. If your high schooler is struggling to master a complex schedule, My Study Life can help her keep track of what class is coming up next, which ones have homework due tomorrow, and which exams she should start studying for tonight.

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iOS, Android, Windows Phones

For anyone who doesn’t love Evernote — or who needs a note-capturing app that works on more than two devices without incurring a fee — OneNote is an effective alternative that boasts many of Evernote’s features. Students can use it to snap pictures, store and categorize files, and jot down ideas — all accessible from any device they choose. Plus, the app can record lectures while students take handwritten notes — allowing them to check back over anything they missed later — and back their notes up to Microsoft’s OneDrive or Office365.

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iOS, Android
Free for basic version; $4.99/month for Premium
Faxing documents via the app incurs a small fee

School comes with lots of paper — which means a disastrous backpack, lost assignments, and one miserable child. Conquer your paper pile with CamScanner, which turns any smartphone into a scanning device. A child who loses homework assignments can snap a picture and email it to himself or his teacher, making it possible to print a copy later in case of emergency. CamScanner makes studying for tests easier, too — instead of re-reading the whole textbook chapter to remember where he saw a specific fact, your child can just snap quick pics as he goes. Later, he can search his PDFs of the chapter to zero in on the correct page and refresh his memory.

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iOS, Android, Web
Free for basic version; $120/year for Plus

School praise is rare for too many student with ADHD, who suffer from low self-esteem, shame, and embarrassment. But you know your child is smart, creative, and resourceful, and you love to see her victories — no matter how small. Seesaw is an app that can help, by allowing students to create “portfolios” of all their best work. From a successful presentation to a teacher’s kind comment, Seesaw allows parents to see the fruits of their child’s hard work — and add in some genuine praise of their own!

[Free Guide: The Ultimate ADHD Toolkit]