Ultimate Clean-Slate Handbook

If last year's struggles are weighing on your kid, these apps, sites, and books can help with organization, academics, and relationships. By Christine Elgersma
Ultimate Clean-Slate Handbook

We tell our kids that everyone makes mistakes -- and we mean it -- but if the last year was a rough one, it can be hard to bounce back. Past struggles with grades, organization, and friends are easy to carry over into the new year. Even determined kids may find themselves playing out the same patterns, engaging in the same old conflicts, or stuck in last year's situations.

While there's rarely one answer to a kid's struggles -- and there's no substitute for open communication -- sometimes media can offer a fresh approach to old problems. And if your kids really want to change course, finding what works for them can be a real self-esteem booster.

These books, apps, and websites can help kids gain perspective, as well as practice positive habits around communication, time management, self-regulation, and organization. Check out our Homework Help AppsTime Management Apps, and Note-Taking Apps for Tweens and Teens for even more ideas.


Get Organized
Do you need a hazmat suit to explore your kid's backpack? Does note taking mean scribbling three sentences across a page? Does "I'll do it tomorrow" really mean, "I already forgot what you said"? Use some tools to create a new routine.

  • Choiceworks Calendar. 8+
    With lots of visuals to choose from, this planner empowers kids to organize their time.
  • 30/30. 10+
    Use this timer to help kids break larger tasks into smaller ones.
  • SoundNote. 14+
    Because kids can sync audio with written notes, this app can help kids get information in multiple ways and keep them organized.

Study Smarter
Press the reset button on study habits with some tools that might help build necessary skills.

Communicate Clearly
Smooth out the rough edges with some social-skills practice that will help make a fresh start.

  • The Social Express II. 8+
    This game helps kids understand the "hidden rules" of social communication and includes a social network.
  • LikeSo. 11+
    When kids need to tone down teen-speak for formal presentations, this app tracks words and phrases they'd rather omit.
  • ConversationBuilder Teen. 13+
    Through scripts and situations, kids can practice their communication choices.

Forge Positive Friendships
Leave the drama behind with social networks that encourage positive interaction.

  • Yoursphere. 9+
    This social network is a safer starting place for younger users who want to practice their digital citizenship skills.
  • Kidzworld. 11+
    Short articles, social networking, and self expression come together on this kid-friendly site.
  • Sit With Us. 13+
    Created by a teen, this app helps kids find friends (and a place at a lunch table) without the risk of public humiliation.

Reflect and Reframe
Put things in perspective and remind kids they aren't alone through the pages of these books.

  • About Average. 8+
    This anti-bullying book can help empower kids to seek solutions.
  • Addie on the Inside. 11+
    Told through poetry, Addie's story covers a lot of emotional ground and features a brave female protagonist.
  • King Dork. 15+
    This realistic coming-of-age book is a relatable read for teens who don't love high school.

Boost Self Esteem
Widen kids' focus to helping others and creating a purpose outside of school.

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About Christine Elgersma

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Christine Elgersma wrangles learning and social media app reviews and creates parent talks as Senior Editor, Parent Education. Before coming to Common Sense, she helped cultivate and create ELA curriculum for a K-12 app... Read more

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