If you're from a previous generation, the idea of taking an iPad or laptop to school with you might seem like a strange concept, but technology is increasingly being adopted in the classroom as a learning aid from a very early age.
There are lots of benefits to this digital switch. Our kids are becoming increasingly competent with the tech that will likely be an ever present in their lives, not to mention the ecological benefits of reduced paper use. However, unlike the notebooks of yesteryear which cost less than a dollar, a brand new tablet or laptop is going to set you back hundreds of dollars (or more!), so making sure your children are looking after it and getting the most value out of it is very important.
The parents at Fone King have put their heads together and come up with these five top tips for how to get your kid’s iPad ready for school, and here’s a little secret… These tips also work if you need to get your own iPad ready for work!
GET THE RIGHT KIND OF CASE!
The first place to start is always going to be getting the right case for your needs. Of course, a decent case will help protect your expensive device from damage, but the right case will also add functionality that can help make the iPad easier to use.
The ‘right’ case will differ depending on the age of your child and what they need to do, but here are three types of case to look at:
5-8 Years: Highly protective and easy to hold!
Younger children will probably want something fun, and you can definitely find lots of different styles of cases that tick this box, but as the parent who is paying for the iPad (and any repairs it needs), you won’t want to compromise on protective quality. Look for something with a high drop test rating, but you may also find that a case with additional straps or handles helps avoid an accident in the first place. Chances are that any case that ticks these boxes will also come in a range of bright colours to keep your kids happy too.
The Super Shield JGX Protection Case is one of the most protective cases on the market. It also has an adjustable velcro strap on the back that can be used as a hand hold or to strap the device securely to a stand (Think the back of the car seat headrest for long journeys!) and a fold out stand.
9-13 Years: Protective but lightweight!
As children become a little older they usually get better at looking after their possessions, so the highest level of protection may not be as necessary. Equally, they will probably be carrying around more stuff in their school bags, so a case that is lighter in weight and more slimline, whilst still protecting from the inevitable bumps and scrapes will be a great way to go.
Something like Super Shield’s Rubber Bounce case is perfect. Slimmer and lighter than the JGX, but still offering more than adequate protection to handle the expected knocks it will receive in a pre-teen school bag.
14-18 Years: Versatile and professional!
It is likely that as kids approach the later years of school, and even university beyond that, they will require a laptop for their studies. Laptops generally have more power and memory than tablets and they are still more versatile when it comes to professional uses, such as word processing, creating spreadsheets, and document uploading and downloading. However, they are also more expensive again than the average tablet, and even if you do upgrade, the iPad can still be a very useful tool to use alongside their laptop.
A great option to look at is an iPad case that has a built in bluetooth keyboard. These make an excellent transition between tablet and laptop and are a far cheaper alternative for a year or two before the laptop becomes necessary.
There are thousands of different styles of case available, but make sure you get one that is fit for purpose!
PUT ON A SCREEN PROTECTOR!
Whilst a good case will go a long way to protecting a tablet from drops and bumps, there is not much they will do if the impact is directly to the screen, and the bigger the screen, the easier it is to crack or shatter. That’s the primary reason to get a screen protector.
Even if we forget about the ‘worst case scenario’ for a moment, an iPad that is being shoved in and out of a school bag all day, dropped on desks and handled in not the most careful way is going to get scratched up. Even if these scratches are nothing but superficial damage, they do age the device and eventually can become an issue. If you have a screen protector though, this will get scratched instead of the screen, and it’s far cheaper to replace every year or two.
There’s one other thing to consider with screen protectors, and that is that there are different types available. For example, you can get screen protectors that also filter blue light, and privacy screen protectors which make the screen invisible to people trying to peek from the desk next to you.
Screen protectors are one of the best investments you can make for an iPad!
HEALTH CHECK AND CLEAN!
Even an iPad that looks to be in good condition could have unseen issues that affect performance and lead to the device stopping working at critical times. There are some key things that can be easily checked at home, such as the battery health, that the charging port is clear of dirt and debris and that accessories are in good condition. For a deeper analysis or to get further advice, take it to a professional tech service and get a qualified expert to run a professional eye over it.
Once you’re happy that the tablet and its accessories are in good physical condition, give it a good clean to remove any dirt or oils that have built up in gaps and crevices. This dirt can eventually start to erode seals or impact performance, as well as harbouring a worrying amount of bacteria, so it’s worth doing this every few months, with a basic wipe down once per week to keep the iPad in optimum condition.
The average tablet screen is home to more bacteria than a toilet seat... so, yeah, give it a clean!
CLEAR OUT AND UPDATE
If you’ve got your iPad in great physical condition, you’ll also want to make sure the software is in peak condition too.
The first step is to go through the apps and files and remove anything that is not needed or unused. A great tip is to move all of last year’s school work onto a cloud drive, like iCloud or Google Drive to free up plenty of memory for this year’s school work. The last thing you want is for your child to be unable to save their work because they haven’t got enough space. You may also want to check what apps are downloaded onto the device by going through the app library, in case your kid has sneakily downloaded a load of games that are using up too much space.
Once you’ve cleared some space, check for software updates and app updates. Some apps will stop working altogether if the version you are using is too old, whilst if they are required to download a new app for a lesson, it might not be compatible if they don’t have the latest version of iOS. Again, this isn’t something you want to be happening in the middle of your child’s lesson. A tip here is to do this in the evening before you go to bed. Start all the updates downloading and then leave the iPad plugged in and connected to the wifi overnight so that it’s all completed for you in the morning.
The final tip is to think about accessories that could improve how your kid is able to use their iPad. These accessories could improve performance, increase usability or simply personalise the device. Some accessories we think could make a difference are:
If the iPad is dying during the day, then a battery pack will make a big difference, especially if it is not always easy for them to plug in and charge the device during lessons. Something like the Raw Techlabs Magnetix Power Bank is MagSafe, so can charge wireless, or be used with a cable. It also has a 10,000mAH capacity meaning it has plenty of juice to recharge a dead tablet.
Even in this day and age, there is still a need for handwriting or hand drawing. A tablet pen allows kids to draw or write on their iPad in a much more natural way. The Magic Stylus works with most touch screen devices, including iPads, and its 12 hours of battery life means it will work all day.
The biggest drawback of a tablet is that it doesn’t stand up on its own, meaning that if you need to look at something on the screen whilst using your hands, it can become quite awkward. A stand is a simple accessory to solve this problem, and Mount It are the market leaders when it comes to these kinds of accessories. Their Folding Table Stand slips easily into a school bag and can be quickly set up whenever it is needed.
When thinking about accessories first think about what you need the device to be better at!
AND A BONUS TIP… SET UP A CHARGING STATION!
Whilst this isn’t so much about getting your iPad ready for school, it is a great tip for parents who want to manage their children’s screen time.
Set up a charging station in a neutral room, like a study or the kitchen, and make it part of the routine to plug all of your devices in before bed. There are studies that suggest that screen time before bed, and even having electronics charging next to the bed overnight, can impact sleep patterns, which is why it’s great to set a charging station up in a neutral room. Also, by making it part of the routine to plug devices in before bed, you get the kids off of their screens and ensure that their iPads are fully charged and ready for school the next day.
So, those are our top tips, but if you need any more advice on getting your tech ready for the new school year, head into your nearest Fone King or message us online and we’ll be happy to help!