How to turn your smart speaker into a virtual school bell to make sure kids get to Zoom classes on time

Technology

With everyone working and learning from home, coordinating multiple schedules can be tricky.

“It’s been a little hectic,” says Santa Clarita mom Jennifer Rapkine. But she was determined to keep everyone on schedule. “One of our daughters logs in at 8:10. The other one logs in at 8:15,” explained Rapkine.

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She posted on Facebook for suggestions on keeping everyone on time – even if Mom and Dad are in meetings themselves. “I can’t expect an 8-year-old to know to do that inherently on their own,” said Rapkine.

She found that other parents using everything from Fitbits to Google Assistant to keep kids on task. They settled on Alexa since they already had the smart speaker.

Here’s how a smart speaker can remind the entire family when class or Zoom is in session:

With Alexa, say “Remind Me” or open the app and look for “Reminders and Alarms.”

Alexa app

With Google, say, “set a reminder” and then follow the prompts. Also, be sure to check out a feature called Family Bell in the Google Home app. It can announce upcoming activities like reading and lunch on a recurring schedule.

With Siri, you can have reminders trigger across all of your devices. Go to Settings > iCloud on your phone and be sure the switch for Reminders is toggled on. Then, you can create reminders in the app or use your voice with Siri.

iCloud settings

Turns out, smart speakers are also good as a virtual school bell!

“I think that’s also setting her up for success for how the real world works in the future, to get those reminders and to be prepared for things,” said Rapkine.

Timers are also a popular way to put these virtual assistants to good use. You can set a timer to limit “extracurricular” activities, like YouTube time, Minecraft and Roblox play.

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