Technology helped many children continue learning during the pandemic and it can also help them in the classroom. Whether it’s an educational app that helps a five-year-old to read and count, an affordable refurbished laptop for a teenager or wearable tech that allows them to smash their cross country personal best, don’t dismiss technology when it comes to improving your children’s school grades. Check out our guide to the best Back To School gadgets to see what’s on offer.
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Affordable laptops for students
School life post-Covid has changed forever and in these uncertain times many schools are requesting students have ultra-portable laptops to take into class and make remote learning a doddle if there are any virus spikes – and this HP entry-level Chromebook is a fantastic solution for back to school 2021.
At just £240, this is one of the most affordable computers on the market. It’s perfectly portable and with a battery life of up to 10 hours, kids won’t need to recharge during the school day. It feels remarkably robust (important when laptops will be chucked in and out of backpacks) and the keyboard and mousepad are very “satisfying” to use, according to our teen testers.
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Chromebook, £240, ao.com
It’s also super-easy to set up – running a Google operating system you can quickly download all the apps you want. As it’s a Chromebook, you do all your computing on the web, working with online apps – and downloading everything you need from Microsoft Office to Gmail and any other school apps (Zoom, OneDrive etc) is a cinch. Antivirus software is built-in and while you can’t install any desktop programs on a Chromebook, the pros are no large software updates or worries about the system slowing over time. Plus, files are all stored safely on a cloud. This computer should definitely see you through to your end of your GCSEs.
Lenovo also has special Back to School deals with 25% off some pretty impressive laptops for students (and teachers too!).
Another favourite is the very sleek-looking Yoga 7i, available at John Lewis, which comes with long-lasting battery life (handy for an epic stint in the library), a 14” full HD touchscreen display and state-of-the-art speaker and webcam system, for those moments when they just HAVE TO speak to their school friends.
Yoga 7i convertible laptop, £799.99, John Lewis
Alternatively, a little-known fact is that eBay sell refurbished laptops from well-known brands at enormous discounts. Think up to 50%. All come with a 12-month warranty so you have the peace of mind that they will work as good as new when they arrive. For more information visit ebay.co.uk.
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iPads for students
An iPad is a great alternative to a laptop. They're lighter to carry around, easy to use, and there are lots of note-taking apps that will benefit learning. But if you're looking for an iPad on a budget, Amazon it is! The shopping site is home to plenty of tech deals for school and right now you can buy an iPad Mini for £369.97.
iPad Mini, £369.97, Amazon
If you need further convincing about an iPad. As well as note-taking apps, there are apps for converting handwriting to text, apps for recording lessons, timetable management, and video calls - ideal for university students who can call home between lectures.
Alternatively, go for the Amazon Fire 7 tablet for just £49.99. They'll get up to seven hours of reading, surfing the web, watching videos and listening to music per charge, plus it's hands-free with Alexa.
Fire 7 tablet, from £49.99, Amazon
A transportable keyboard and mouse combo for students
Whether you're using an iPad or you're carrying your kit from class to class, you'll need a streamlined keyboard and mouse combo. The slim, lightweight K380 Multi-Device keyboard and M350 Pebble are easy to carry and outfitted with Bluetooth so you can multitask at home, in the classroom or at the local Starbucks. You can even track your Pebble mouse on bed covers. Type and click on a laptop or tablet and own your space wherever you go.
K380 Multi-Device keyboard and M350 Pebble, £47.99, Logitech
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Printers and paper deals for students
Canon has some Back to School deals, too. You can get up to 15% off calculators; as well as 20% off photo and A4 paper. Ideal for students who need to print off study papers at home.
Canon Back to School promotion, Canon
Headphones and earphones for students
Now kids and teens can listen for up to 13 hours of Bluetooth playtime with these super cool JBuddies headphones. Perfect for homework, travelling, or in class. They come in pink, blue or purple at a really good price point.
Purple JBuddies headphones, £29.99, Argos
For teens looking for a super-cool option, great sound, bass control and the ability to talk while learning or gaming, these Skullcandy headphones stand out from the crowd. They have a detachable auxiliary cable meaning they can work with devices with or without Bluetooth, or if you've forgotten to charge them. Not that it's likely to be too much of a problem - once fully charged they last an impressive 40 hours in Bluetooth mode, and the speedy charging means you can get three hours of charge after just ten minutes in a plug.
Our teen tester found the noise-cancelling sound and inbuilt microphone to be really superior to other headphones he'd used. The sensory bass means you can actually feel the music - like you were at a concert. The travel case makes this piece of tech feel so luxe that it is given extra special treatment when being folded up carefully and placed in a backpack. So hopefully they'll last a long time too!
Skullcandy Crusher headphones, £99, Skullcandy
Sim-only mobiles for students
Most children begin to make very loud noises about getting a mobile phone when they start secondary school but, instead of buying a new, expensive model that comes with every distraction going, why not start with a more reasonable sim-only mobile? You can give them an old phone and not worry too much when it inevitably gets broken, lost or stolen. EE has some great deals that won’t break the bank. For more information visit shop.ee.co.uk.
Affordable mobile phones for students
If you're opting for a new mobile phone, how about a more reasonable device? Apple's iPhone SE, which is the most budget-friendly Apple phone you can buy, and Google's new Pixel 4a (set for release at the beginning of October) will make them the envy of their class.
iPhone SE, from £399, Mobile Phones Direct
Pixel 4a, from £349, Google
Wearable tech for students
If your child has been using lockdown to stay active, perhaps it’s time to keep encouraging this trend with some wearable tech. This VTech Kidizoom Smart Watch features a motion sensor, pedometer and stopwatch so they can keep track of their daily activity. But that’s not all, it also has the Time Master app which helps kids tell the time and an augmented reality adventure game that encourages kids to explore.
VTech Kidizoom DX2 Children's Smart Watch, £37.99, John Lewis
A power bank & other accessories for students
There are lots of accessories for all kids to pack in their school bags. From power banks to USBs, Amazon is the perfect go-to destination for back to school accessories.
Phone power bank, £39.95, Amazon
Stylus pens, £4.99, Amazon
Useful learning apps for students
Since lockdown, parents and teachers alike have discovered the benefits of learning on a screen. Just because teaching has returned to face-to-face now doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to take advantage of this. For school starters, Teach Your Monster To Read is an award-winning app that is designed to let kids create their own monster and simultaneously understand phonics and word blends. It covers the first two years of reading and is available on iTunes.
A million miles away from the dry, dusty learning usually associated with mathematics, Endless Numbers offers a colourful, playful way for young children to discover the basics of numbers before they start school – or during their first year there. With interactive sequences and equation puzzles, this fun app encourages a love of numbers that will hopefully stick.
DOWNLOAD ENDLESS NUMBERS
For older children struggling to learn a language, take a look at Duolingo, the world’s most downloaded educational app. With at least 35 languages to choose from, it breaks down learning into daily, bitesize amounts, making it less daunting and much more manageable. The app covers speaking, reading, listening and writing, plus, it’s completely free! Music to every parent’s ears.
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