Tag Archives: Cozi

Helping Your Kids Back into their School Routine

Depending on your school district, your children are either back to school already or about to hit the ground running. Or staggering. Or moaning and dragging. Let’s face it, if your kiddos have enjoyed a lazy summer with late nights and even later mornings, getting back into a school-days routine can be slightly less tortuous than waterboarding.

If your child is feeling anxious about going back to school with a new teacher and classmates, don’t dismiss their feelings – validate them. Reassure them that facing new people and new situations can be stressful for adults too and reassure them you will do everything you can to support them and make their school year a success.

One of the biggest changes as you transition from summer to school is to your morning routine. Start by talking your kids through what the morning will look like and what your expectations for them will be. Get organized, especially if your child isn’t a morning person. Help them plan out what they’ll wear, pack their backpack, and prepare their lunch or snack the night before. The key is simplicity and clarity – make sure they know exactly what you expect from them. “Regular routines provide a kid’s developing brain with a template for how to organize and manage daily life. By gradually turning over the responsibility for self-management, we support the brain’s development and ensure that our kids learn how to manage themselves, ” says Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. 

If your children are young or struggle with staying on task, create a chart on your smartphone or tablet or with poster board and stickers to help them keep track.

List what they need to do, for example:

  • Wash your face
  • Brush your teeth
  • Brush your hair
  • Make your bed
  • Eat breakfast

Bedtime can be another tough transition. Just as with your morning routine, establishing a bedtime routine trains the brain that it’s time to slow down and go to sleep. If they’re used to staying up late watching a video or playing on their device, setting time limits and a countdown – 30 minutes til bed, 15 minutes til bed, and “here’s your five-minute warning” – can de-escalate tantrums and make the transition to bedtime less stressful or argumentative. Create a bedtime checklist as you did for the morning:

  • Pack your backpack
  • Put on your PJs
  • Brush your teeth
  • Go potty
  • Wash your hands
  • Get your last drink of water

Homework, the bane of parents and children everywhere, is another potential stressor for both parents and kids. Once again, the key is being organized. Check their backpack, Blackboard, or school website to keep track of upcoming projects. Use apps like Cozi to keep the family organized and myHomeworkMyStudyLife,  or Chalkboard to help manage assignments.

Remember, learning time management is an essential part of your child developing maturity. Creating a routine and setting boundaries helps them internalize structure and learn self-control. “Children who are taught basic routines grow into adults who are efficient and organized,” says Hartwell-Walker. “There’s a lot more to routines than simply getting everyone out the door in the morning and into bed on time at night. Establishing routines provides kids with important skills for life.”





New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

This time of year, the mantra seems to be, “New year, new me.” The gym is crowded, grocery carts are full of produce after holiday indulgence, and our journals have at least a few consecutive days of entries. But, it’s not just adults that may want to hit the reset button and need a fresh start, perhaps your kids do too.

The weeks leading up to the holiday break can be a little chaotic, and if your child struggled with academics, organization, or even behaviors in 2018, reminding them the gift of a clean slate in 2019 can alleviate a significant amount of stress.

Here are a few tips:


Are you even a parent if your child hasn’t handed you a permission slip/announced you’re supposed to send in three dozen cookies for a bake sale/informed you they need a crate of popsicle sticks and a kilo of uranium-235 for a project due that day? Create a routine where the first thing to happen when your child gets home is to empty that backpack. BeeVisual’s Choiceworks Calendar is a “full-featured, kid-friendly calendar app designed to help children learn concepts of time and help caregivers to keep them organized.” Because it’s picture based, even young children can take ownership of their schedule and learn to manage their time and responsibilities. Cozi consistently ranks at the top of lists of parent’s favorite apps for its user-friendly interface that puts all your family’s events and activities in one place and works across platforms and devices. ColorNote for Android and SoundNote for iOS make it easier for older kids to take notes, track what’s coming up, and share through SMS/MMS, email, Messenger, and social media.


Whether it’s teaching them to control their emotions or learn to put their dishes in the dishwasher, there’s an app for that. Chore Pad offers customizable chore charts allowing your child to earn stars and trophies for completed tasks. Busykid not only teaches chores, but it also teaches fiscal responsibility. You assign the duties, your kids complete them, and their allowance is direct-deposited each Friday. Sesame Street’s Breathe, Think, Do app is available for Android and iOS devices and teaches children self-regulating tools like deep breathing for stressful or frustrating situations. Headspace for Kids goes a little further, breaking things down into five themes: Calm, Focus, Kindness, Sleep and Wake Up, each with age-appropriate tools (ages 5 and under, 6-8 and 9-12.)


 The Homework app allows students to upload their class schedule, know at a glance if it’s an A or B Day, a timeline of the day’s classes, a graph of the student’s workload for the next seven days, and quick options to contact teachers and instructors. Brainpop was created by a doctor as a tool to help explain difficult concepts to his young patients through games, movies, and engaging content. It’s a great resource for homework help and teaching complex subjects. Alternatively, Kahn Academy offers free, online instruction in everything from English grammar and algebra to art history and microeconomics.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.





Apps to Help Students (and Parents) Manage the School Day

By Tracey Dowdy

I love the TV commercials that show a smiling family sitting around the breakfast table, laughing together as they drink freshly squeezed orange juice and politely eat their healthy breakfast in a sundrenched kitchen nook. All that’s missing is the unicorn the children will soon ride to school because for many parents and kids, that tableau is just as imaginary.

Getting everyone out the door in the morning may never be as blissful as the TV commercials but it doesn’t need to be an epic battle or mad dash for the bus. Getting organized the night before and having strategies in place that meet your family’s unique schedule and needs is simply a matter of planning. These apps can help start the day off right and wrap it up in a positive way at the end of the day.

The Night Before

I’ve written about family organizers before and Cozi (Free – iOS, Android, Amazon) is always at the top of my list. It’s invaluable for parents and caregivers juggling the family schedule and will help you keep track of everything from your appointments to your grocery list, so you never find yourself out of bread when it’s time to pack lunches or forget when that science project is due.

Choiceworks (iOS – $4.99) is a visually based calendar that enables younger kids or those with learning disabilities to grasp the concept of time. It’s designed to be used by caregivers and kids alike and, along with preloaded pictures and audio cues, users have the options to customize their calendar by uploading their own images and audio. It’s user friendly, easy to navigate and offers a countdown feature to help children learn planning strategies, e.g. “Three days until my book report is due,” so they can lean to manage their time.

In the Morning

Here Comes the Bus (Free – iOS, Android) has been implemented by many school districts to connect students, parents, and administrators with their GPS-equipped vehicles. Whether you’re live in a rural or suburban area, you can appreciate the value of not standing outside when the weather is less than ideal or knowing you have time to run back to the house to grab forgotten homework. Users can also get push notifications if there’s a schedule changes or when the ride is five minutes away from the bus stop. Plus, caregivers can simultaneously track multiple children on different busses.

Swiftime (Free – iOS) spares you the frustration of yelling the morning countdown – “Fifteen minutes til we’re out the door!” “Ten more minutes!” “Five minutes ‘til we leave!” – by counting down for you from 60 minutes. The app offers 12 different alarm sounds, updated weather information, tips on what to wear and users can receive push notifications even if the app isn’t running.


Once the kids are home from school, it’s time to tackle homework. myHomework help (Free – iOS, Android) uses a color coding system to organize classes, assignments, projects, and tests by tracking what’s due and when. The app syncs across all platforms and supports time, block and period-based schedules. It also sends homework reminders and allows users to connect to your teacher’s Teachers.io class and automatically download class information, assignments, files and announcements.

If like me you had to tap out after 8th grade math, Kahn Academy (Free – iOS) offers free online classes for almost any subject you can think off. Take advantage of lectures, quizzes and exercises with step-by step hints that will not only help you remember 10th grade algebra formulas so you can help with homework but can also help your student if there’s any area he’s struggling with and may need additional instruction. It’s like having your very own tutor on-demand.

Simple things like checking backpacks when they walk in the door after school, laying out clothes and packing lunches the night before, or setting your alarm so you have adequate time to accomplish the myriad of tasks to get your family out the door in the morning won’t mean there will be days you’re tempted to give up and dive back under the covers, but it can mean there’s fewer of them.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Apps to Help with Co-Parenting

By Tracey Dowdy

Parenting is one of the most challenging things you’ll ever face, and co-parenting can sometimes not just double, but exponentially increase those challenges. Trying to organize and keep track of homework, appointments, special dietary requirements and expenses can make your head spin.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that. Here are some of the best:

Our Family Wizard

family-wizardCreated by a divorced couple looking for a better way to communicate and exchange information about their kids, Our Family Wizard provides visitation and child custody schedules, calendars, parenting plans, and other co-parenting tools. The web site and app also include links to counseling and legal services.

Platform: Web, iOS, Android
Cost: Free app download but subscription required for use ($99 per parent per year)


2housesAgain created by co-parents, 2Houses offers a calendar to organize custody and events, share information about school or doctor’s appointments, a photo album, a journal to record notes and important reminders like food allergies or sensitivities, and an expense module to manage child related expenses for both parents.

Platform: Web, iOS
Cost: Free


kidganizerKidganizer is a good option for parents who may not communicate well face to face. This synchronized app allows users to create profiles for each child and input information including scheduling and finances, as well as sending alerts to remind family members of important events like doctor’s visits, parent teacher conferences or ballet recitals. Updates are in real time, so both caregivers have up to date information.

Platform: iOS
Cost: $1.99


custody-junctionCustodyJunction.com is designed to facilitate custody from before to after the divorce. Through the calendar and tracking features, parents can schedule current and future visitation and support arrangements for up to two years’ in advance, which is a significant help in planning vacations and holidays. Customized reports on visitation, support payments, expenses, and hours spent with child are generated for both parents and can be shared with third parties such as lawyers or court monitors.

Platform: Web
Cost: Free 30 day trial/$47 one year subscription


about-oneAbout One is ideal for accessing paperwork on-the-go, serving as an online file cabinet where you can keep receipts, health information, instructions for caregivers and school reports. Track scheduling, events, paperwork, and emergency contact information and access them at any time.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows
Cost: Free


skediSkedi is a cloud based app that syncs with your current online calendar – Google, Outlook, Yahoo!, or Microsoft Exchange. Manage drop offs, pick-ups, and even assign to other family members so there’s never a doubt about who’s turn it is or who is responsible for getting something done.

Platform: iOS
Cost: $9.99


coziCozi isn’t designed specifically with co-parenting in mind but is still a valuable tool for parents trying to manage life in two places. Cozi offers an app and web site for managing your family’s calendars, to-do lists, chores, and shopping lists. Add recurring events like soccer practice or tutoring, forward the week’s agenda to family members, and have alerts sent via text or email.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry
Cost: Free


Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.