Jump back into school using the (safety) Net

The start of the school year is a good time to make jumping into the swimming pool a fond memory and instead start jumping at using the internet to get more organized with homework, housework and school lunches. Photo by Brandie Clark

Whether you couldn’t wait for school to start or you wanted summer to linger longer, the new school year has begun.

Here are a few websites to help your family jump in with both feet.


With the kids back in school and out from under foot, now is the time to start or restart a regular cleaning regimen.

Whenever anyone asks me how to rid their homes of C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t have anyone over syndrome), I tell them to visit Flylady.net.

Flylady kept me sane when I had three preschoolers at home and limited time and energy for household upkeep. Over the years, I continue to follow her advice.

One of the handiest is the “Five Minute Fire Drill.” We will set a timer five minutes, the kids and I will do a quick clean-up of a room. When the five minutes are up, we stop, whether we are finished or not.

The short time span keeps the kids from feeling tortured, but it’s amazing how much can be accomplished in five minutes. Short cleaning bursts like this over time can make a difference in the overall cleanliness of a home.

Flylady’s advice is simple baby steps toward reclaiming your home from clutter. So, for anyone who doesn’t know where to begin, begin with flylady.net.


Mesa County School District 51 has made it so easy to keep in contact with your student’s school and teachers.

District 51 maintains a regularly updated and informative website, mesa.k12.co.us. You can check the school calendar, menus, emergency alerts and even employment opportunities.

Take full advantage of the site’s Parent Bridge, which allows you to check grades, attendance, send and receive e-mails from teachers and announcements from the school.

Become a “friend” of District 51 on Facebook. You can check out stories, events and videos from schools all over the valley.

Don’t forget to regularly view your child’s school webpage. Many of the schools’ websites contain fun and educational links for students to explore.


Are your kids tired of the same old PB&J with chips and a drink in their packed lunch? Brown-bagging doesn’t have to be boring.

School-lunch-ideas.com, created by a lifestyle and food columnist, is a great resource for showing you how to pack a creative and nutritious lunch your cafeteria dweller will not trade.

There are sandwich alternatives, finger foods and hot lunch recipes for a Thermos.

Some of the menu ideas are so simple a child could make them (hint, hint). School-lunch-ideas.com makes it easy to add variety and get that midday meal out of a rut.


Great internet resources are not restricted to a desk and monitor. Your handheld devices can help keep your family motivated and excited about learning.

AppCraver.com has lists and reviews of hundreds of educational apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A couple noteworthy apps include Math Pro and MonsterABC.

Math Pro is a useful combination of math formulas and calculators that will help anyone tackling fifth-grade level math and above. It can handle algebra, geometry, probability, statistics, trigonometry and calculus.

For the pre-K kids, MonsterABC is an app that grows with your child. It has two flashcard-style learning modules. A child’s voice sounds out letters and words to combine auditory and visual learning and reinforce new information.

MonsterABC uses a simple tap control system so it is easy for kids to play alone and doesn’t require any shaking (or dropping), that might cause parents to second-guess a decision to let a 3-year-old handle an expensive device.

No, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that (like it or not), the school year is in full swing. But if you need a little help getting your kid not to wear his swimsuit to the third grade, there might be an app for that.

For more on an unpredictable variety of other topics, visit Annie Payne’s blog, Anniethology.blogspot.com, at GJSentinel.com.


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