My second grader starts school on Tuesday, and although his school supply list contains nothing that plugs in (mostly it’s erasable markers, scissors and crayons), there are five tech recommendations I would make to families with older children who are heading back to class.
Recent Posts By Erin Kane
Most of us can probably agree that audiobooks are a terrific way to pass the time on long road trips with the family. But what we can’t seem to agree on is which title to listen to. My husband would likely choose some business or self-help tome (Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, perhaps) while I would rather enjoy something funny, like David Sedaris’ When You Are Engulfed in Flames. My 7-year-old’s choice? Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.
As the summer of 2009 winds down, our family is doing a lot of road travel. In August alone we’ve taken a vacation at the beach, a road trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, and a day trip to an amusement park. Along the way we’ve come to rely on our less than dependable two-year-old Magellan Maestro GPS system. This basic, inexpensive GPS model (that we received as a gift and is no loner available) seems to deliver more inaccurate directions than accurate ones. While I’ve been routinely frustrated by the device (the voice loves to say “when possible make a legal U-turn”), it wasn’t until our trip to Cooperstown yesterday that I decided it’s really time for an upgrade.
The start of school is just two short weeks away and I am ready to celebrate! As I begin to tackle the heap of registration papers and emergency contact forms required by my sons’ two schools, I have become even more grateful for my new Google Voice number. That’s because Google Voice is a single phone number that rings all of your phones—your home, your mobile and your office—simultaneously. Ask anyone who works at a school or day care and they’ll tell you: Sometimes it takes six phone calls before they actually reach a child’s parent. In a true emergency, that’s five calls too many.
When my kids are around, I haven’t much need for an alarm clock. Even on vacation they wake up with the birds. It’s drizzly and foggy here on Cape Cod, a perfect morning for sleeping in, and yet there they were at 6am—standing over me—their little faces silently screaming, “Where are the pancakes?”
This October, my husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. If ever there was a time to convert our decade-old VHS tape—the one that lovingly documents the dresses, the flowers and the fun on the dance floor—this is it. I happened upon the dusty tape just a few weeks ago, when I was cleaning out the closet in my home office.
If you’re not yet using Google Docs, the free online tool that allows you to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online, I encourage you to take a few minutes and give it a try. I have dabbled in Docs before, but it wasn’t until my recent interview with Jennifer Mazzon of Google, that I realized just how much of my life I could tackle using Docs. All you need is a Google account to get started.
Yesterday I spent the morning with my 7-year-old son at a university-based learning lab here in Boston. I had been told by the university in advance to come prepared with something to do, since my son’s tests would likely run three hours and I would not be allowed to observe. I was totally fine with this scenario since I always have plenty of work to do. With my laptop and a wireless Internet connection I can get it all done from anywhere.
Last Christmas, my mother-in-law requested a gift that I thought would be relatively easy to find: a portable radio for her daily walks through the neighborhood. I searched high and low for a device that was affordable, easy to use, with good user reviews. But since the invention of the iPod and other portable mp3 players, it seems small portable radios have gone the way of the VCR. Remember your old Sony Walkman? I loved mine. And yet I haven’t listened to radio through tiny headphones in years. I honestly can’t remember the last time I did.
Like many of his peers, my son is much more interested in computers and hand-held video games than he is writing on paper with a pencil. Come September he’ll be in the second grade and I know his teacher is going to expect more from him than chicken scratch. So every other day this summer I’ve been cajoling, pleading, and forcing him against his will to write a few sentences in a notebook. He views this as primitive torture. I view it as just another one of my many motherly responsibilities. Food, check. Shelter, check. Religion, getting there. Penmanship, not so much.