25 Helpful Items To Ease You & The Kids Into The School Year
The end of summer vacation is a stressful time for everyone. Here’s some gear that’ll take the sting out of the transition.
Going back to school can be a tough transition to make for both kids and parents. New routines, responsibilities, schedules, people to meet, and things to sign up for all pile on. This makes life physically hectic, sure, but also full of new anxieties. Luckily, this stress usually melts away into the soothing rhythms of routine. So how do you get to that point faster? There’s a world of gear, gadgets, and apps that can help ease the transition from summer break back into an established day-to-day.
The following 30 items are all designed to turn going back to school more of a fun and exciting time for kids, with a host of gear to help you stay organized and energized as you get your kids out the door, plus a few options to help you unwind when you find a minute.
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A classic silhouette backed by decades of reliability, the Kanken Classic Backpack is a scholastic stalwart. Developed to improve the posture of Swedish school children (really), it’s tailor-made for your returning student. The Vinylon F fabric is durable and water-resistant, while its padded back protects laptops and tablets from bumps throughout the day. Multiple pockets — two side pockets and a front zipper pocket — keep everything accessible and in the right spot.
Say goodbye to flattened lunches with this steel jacket. Strong enough to drive a bus over, it has five compartments and two integrated waterproof containers for the greatest variety of meal possibilities. At the end of the day (or after a long weekend in the car), throw it in the dishwasher for a like-new appearance that’s also completely sanitized for the next use. It’s BPA- and PVC-free.
An industry leader in kids smartwatches, Cosmo’s JrTrack 2 is great for parents seeking a little extra assurance. Strapped to your child’s wrist, it enables 4G calling, texts, GPS tracking, geofencing, and more, all accessible through an app on your phone. It also shields your child from outside calls and texts. Our favorite: Without social media access, your kid will have to be content living in the real world.
While its wide mouth fills fast (i.e. between periods), Hydro Flask’s straw lid metes out water with care and precision to last all day. It’s stainless steel, vacuum-insulated design keeps cold things cold and hot things hot, and it cleans easily in a typical dishwasher cycle. It’s pricey, certainly, but if you were only to own one water bottle, this is it. It also comes in various colors so your child can pick a favorite.
Literati has cracked the code to childhood literacy: Give them what they want and they’ll read. Its monthly subscription boxes are tailored to your child’s interests, and the company’s liberal exchange policy ensures that near-misses aren’t at your expense. The result? Kids read an average 39 minutes more per day, and nearly all parents report an increased interest in reading, both of which will only benefit your child as they progress in an academic career.
No one denies the benefit of a polylingual education, but starting children in another language, especially if you don’t speak it yourself, can be a challenge. Ladybird’s hourlong Spanish introduction eases your kid in, at the end of which he or she will be able to write a postcard in a foreign tongue. Also available in French and German, it’s interactive, fun, and will pay dividends down the line.
With a host of bilingual educators at the programming helm, Encantos is one of the most complete ways to teach your child Spanish. Numerous games and activities lead your child through letters, phonics, numbers, and emotional awareness in a foreign language. It’s also updated every month for a near-bottomless well of content to help your child stay engaged and learning.
Amazon’s in-house tablet, now in its eighth iteration, has only gotten better with age, despite the fact that it’s price has remained nearly constant. Pre-loaded with kids content from some of the biggest companies in the world and imbued with ironclad parental controls, it also features an integrated rubber bumper for drop protection. The best part: a two-year, no-questions-asked warranty is standard, should the unexpected occur.
For The Commute
This movable disco of a scooter is tricked out with neon LED lights in its wheel and along its deck. Sure, it’s a fun feature for a variety of ages. But the A+ Lightshow is also great for those early fall mornings and evenings as a means of adding visibility — and safety — for your commuting child. We love the motion-activated feature, which powers down when not in use so that you’re not bleeding batteries each week. Fold it in half and tuck it away when not in use.
Available in three sizes based roughly on age (6 to 8, 7 to 11, and 10 to 14), Woom’s Now series of bikes are engineered for the cyclist commuter. The front rack holds backpacks and other necessities securely, while a smaller front wheel lowers the center of gravity for greater stability and maximum maneuverability along the way. The company also tweaked its geometry so that kids are sitting high, providing wide visibility to avoid dangers.
To Plan It All
Wilde, van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway, Matisse: Moleskine provided the figurative canvas which allowed each of these artists to create. The heritage company’s legacy may date back more than a century, but your child can benefit this year from its Academic Planner. Spiral-bound and spanning June ’22 to June ’23, it has week and month summaries, a GPA tracker, and myriad other ways of organizing the scholastic calendar. It also carries the timeless look and feel of the company’s legendary notebooks.
Why reinvent the wheel? The classic magnetic dry erase board has helped families collectivize their disparate schedules for decades, and this three-board kit will jumpstart your family’s school year. With dedicated daily, weekly, and monthly boards, you and your household can tell at a glance what’s coming down the pike.
A wall-mounted tablet for your family’s life, the Echo Show 15 helps streamline activities, birthdays, vacations, and more to ensure that nothing is forgotten. A 15.6-inch HD display shows events and images with across-the-room clarity, while its smart design syncs with all your other Amazon products and devices. Use it as a family photo album, and then, with a few swipes and taps, watch your favorite Netflix shows. It’s a do-all device.
For The Commute
Forget Japanese selvedge; if there’s one pair of pants that will be with you until the end (and doesn’t need to be babied), it’s the Everywhere Pant. 686 may make some of our favorite technical snowboard outerwear, but even lifties have to live in something when not on the resort. Water-resistant, with reinforced stitching, a whopping 10 pockets, and a stretch-friendly synthetic fabric, these may sound like a tech pant. But their slim cut and numerous color options allow you to make them an everyday staple.
Filson’s heritage rugged twill fabric is renowned for its durability and abrasion resistance, making it the ideal fabric for your commute. Bridle leather accents are handsome while bolstering its longevity. It fits easily into an overhead bin and includes a 46-inch shoulder strap for commutes of all distances.
Cut from Belgian leather and featuring German pannier hardware, this bag still screams English refinement. For those to whom bike commuting is a frequent occurrence, there’s not a better way to do so with style. An included rain jacket protects both bag and contents should inclement weather pop up unexpectedly.
For The Mind & Body
If you’re getting serious about your cold brew coffee, then you’re overdue for a dedicated pitcher. Takeya’s makes a liter at a time while ensuring you’re not drinking the grounds themselves. Just set it and forget it until you’re ready to drink, storing it out of the way in most refrigerator doors. It’s dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup.
Soft, stretchy, and eminently wearable, California Cowboy’s Fleece Crew is the ultimate weekend attire. Blended spandex and bamboo is knit and sewn in the United States, and the mix is the softest material we’ve ever worn. Plus, California Cowboy threw in some fun design details. Our favorite: a dedicated “conversation stopper card” pocket, which comes with cues to get you out of annoying PTA small talk when you really must be getting home.
For those who nurse a cup of coffee throughout the day, Ember’s Smart Mug 2 allows you to control and maintain your beverage’s temperature via your phone. Set your temp, and the cup’s built-in battery warms your drink for up to 80 minutes. Just set it down on the charger coaster to further extend your drink’s climate. It’s available in multiple finishes to match your decor and personal style.
Pound the stress and ache out of your muscles with the Pulse Massage Gun. Power Plate supercharged its design while adding six intensity settings, allowing you to customize to comfort. It’s also incredibly lightweight and includes six different massage heads for every situation. An anti-microbial treatment ensures cleanup is minimal.
The single best way to take care of your mind is to read. As editors, sure, we’re biased, but reading reading for pleasure is a perfect way to slow down your day and enjoy some stillness. And reading doesn’t get much better than with the latest Amazon Kindle. Its 6.8-inch display is similar in size to a trade paperback, but its 10-week battery life is long enough for multiple readings of War and Peace. It’s even great outdoors thanks to a glare-free finish and waterproof design. It pairs with Audible for further use.
You know the saying about how outlook trumps circumstance. Well, Headspace can help drive this point home. Its suite of inspirational tracks help manage emotions, facilitate sleep, curry fitness motivation, and more. Accessible via your phone, it’s a great way to reset and recharge while killing time between errands.
With multiple uses and shockingly great sound, SoundPEATS is quickly becoming an open secret among the sound aficionados. Rich and nuanced tones would be great on their own, but a 21-hour battery life is even better and multiple noise-canceling modes, accessible by a quick tap of your finger, are the icing on the cake. They’re also great for gaming after the kids and spouse have gone to bed.
With so much on your mind, one less chore to remember is a blessing. Roborock’s Q5 robot vacuum cleans your floors tirelessly, moving with a vigilance normally associated with the DMZ. When not in use, it charges via its docking station, which also encloses a 2.5-liter dirt bag (approx. seven weeks’ worth of space), into which it drops its payload.