Electronic back-to-school helpers for parents

This content is sponsored by Pen Fed Credit Union

Go beyond spiral-bound notebooks and glue sticks this year with back-to-school tools that help the whole family get into the swing of the academic year. These apps and tech gizmos make keeping up with the family schedule simpler and faster than ever—and they won’t take a big bite out of your budget.

Apps that communicate, plan, and manage

Here Comes the Bus. Is it too late to make a run for the bus? Now you can find out by checking your phone. Here Comes the Bus will show you school bus schedules, pushes out notifications when the bus is five minutes away, and has real-time tracking. In order to use the app, your school district must contract with app maker Synovia Solutions and make the app available to families. If it does, Here Comes the Bus is available free for both Android and iOSdevices.

Cozi Family Organizer. This family organizer will coordinate the schedules of your entire family. It also allows you to create to-do lists, shopping lists, and more. Cozi even sends out weekly event reminders to help everyone get ready for the week ahead. Cozi is available free for Android and iOS devices, with optional in-app purchases.

Artkive. Now you don’t have to pick and choose which masterpieces of art get to move from the fridge door to the family memory bin. With Artkive, you can create a digital catalog of every piece of artwork your child brings home—Artkive will even tag it with the date and your child’s name and age. Artkive is free for Android and iOS devices.

Gadgets that keep you organized

Circle with Disney. Here’s the ultimate screen time manager. Create individualized settings for every member of the family and every Wi-Fi device in the house—it even automatically picks up guests. Set daily limits for platforms and apps, shut down late-night surfing with BedTime, filter differently for each family member, and disable access for individual members. The reporting system lets you figure out who’s using what when—you may be surprised by your own usage patterns! $99 at MeetCircle.com

Triby. If you’ve been considering buying an Amazon Echo or Amazon Tap, don’t overlook a Triby. The magnetized Triby sticks right to your refrigerator door—watch how quickly your family adopts it for staying organized and in touch. This smart portable speaker features the Alexa voice service to let you play music, make hands-free calls from across the room (even if you’re doing the dishes), listen to Wikipedia answers and news reports, and set alarms. Kids can push a single button to call parents or emergency contacts—alleviating the need to remember phone numbers. Carry the Triby from room to room for hands-free communication wherever you are at home. $199 at Invoxia

Save while you shop

You probably didn’t plan for electronic organizers in your back-to-school budget. Take the sting out the bills by using a PenFed credit card. With simple fees and low rates, don’t wait for the last class bell to ring to select the best fit for you. Apply today, and stay ahead of the back-to-school rush.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up