Back to School: 5 awesome products students and parents will love

08/25/2017 03:34 pm ET

Back to school shopping isn’t just for clothes. (And if your shopping list is just jeans and shoes, it’s time to reevaluate!) Every year there new awesome products to make students’ and parents’ lives a little easier.

Whether your kid is entering first grade or twelfth, these gifts and gadgets will

For parents of kids in pre-K to 8th grade: ClassDojo

Used in 90% of schools across the United States -- yes, public, private and charter -- this easy-to-use app allows parents to tune into their kids’ classes throughout the day. A communication tool between parents and faculty members, teachers can send classroom photos, upload digital portfolios of students’ work, and chat directly with individual parents.

One bonus that I love: Text can be translated into dozens of languages, so even if there’s a language barrier between parents and teachers, no information will get lost during the day-to-day grind.

If your child’s school doesn’t already utilize ClassDojo, just bring it up to a school administrator: Teachers and principals can sign up at no charge, so it’s a risk-free move that benefits all parties.

For middle- and high schoolers: Pocket Projector

I would have given a lot for something like this when I was in high school. This little gadget is perfect for group projects: At less than 6”, it’s tiny enough to fit in a purse or even a pocket, and it attaches to a phone or laptop to project images up to 50”. You can screen anything from Google Docs to demo videos to Netflix (you know, when it’s time for a break).

The Pocket Projector isn’t just a great tool for studying. If you don’t have a large TV or cable, this thing is a lifesaver. And it’s much easier on your neck to view a smartphone screen projected onto the wall than down below your eyeline. It’s available for $99 at Brookstone.

There are a number of online flashcard platforms, but this one reigns supreme. They’re simple and functional while still advanced enough to actually enhance your study routine. You can create your own or borrow from the millions of flashcards and notes already uploaded onto the site.

These are great for pretty much any subject, and you can customize them to best accommodate your own study style. There’s a small monthly membership fee ($7/month), but the payoff -- nailing your finals and keeping up that GPA -- can’t be reduced into a dollar sign.

Taking notes just ain’t what it used to be. Revamp your sketch style with this smart tablet and pen that allow you to write notes by hand while they automatically save to a digital device. It’s simple to use -- almost as simple as your everyday pen and paper -- but you’ll never have to worry about misplacing your notebook when you need it most.

The usefulness of this set goes beyond the classroom. My scholarship fund, 1,000 Dreams Fund, works with young women who are involved in all types of demanding extracurriculars, from sports to leadership societies -- there’s a lot to keep track of outside of school itself. Keeping this notebook on hand is a smart way to stay on top of all your commitments.

For a heavy sleeper of any age: Witwatia Pressure Sensitive Alarm Clock

Heavy sleepers (or parents of them) know the struggle. Unfortunately, an iPhone alarm makes it way too easy to hit snooze over and over and over. It’s just one single tap -- and if you tap the wrong spot, you can turn the alarm off entirely, which definitely does you no good.

Enter this innovative alarm clock, which looks like a little rug next to your bed. It will not turn off until you get 100% out of bed and step onto it with your entire weight. And as we all know, forcing yourself to stand up is the hardest part of getting out of bed. At $60, it’s about the same price as a mid-range alarm clock anyway -- and it’ll keep you on your toes. Literally.

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