One of the perks of in-person school is the structure it brings to your kids’ day: There’s a schedule for students to follow, with clear start and finish times for each period, probably marked by a bell, and possible consequences for tardiness.
But when you’re at home, the school day can pretty quickly turn into a time warp, and your kids’ attention can be easily overtaken by any number of distractions in your home. If you’re staring down the possibility of at-home learning for the foreseeable future, you’re gonna want some semblance of structure — and your smart speaker can help you out.
Here’s how to employ Alexa or Google Assistant to keep your homeschooled kids on track.
Set up Family Bell with Google Assistant
Google just launched a feature for Google Assistant called Family Bell, which lets you pick specific times for your speaker to chime throughout the day — at the start of a period, the end of lunch or the beginning of nap time, for example. You can launch it using a voice command (“Hey Google, create a Family Bell”) but it’s probably easier to go through your Google Home app for more control over times, days and routines.
To set up Family Bell, open the app on your iOS or Android device and tap your profile photo in the top right corner. Tap Assistant settings > Assistant > Family Bell > Add a bell and enter the details (including what you want the “bell” to say). You can update or change the announcement in this same menu. Since this feature is brand-new, you may need to update your app if you don’t see the Family Bell option.
You can also use Google Assistant’s routines to pair multiple actions, like turning on a light, playing a chime, saying a command and launching a song or audiobook (or whatever you need for your learning objectives). In the app, go to Assistant > Routines and tap the plus sign to create a custom routine.
Set up Reminders with Alexa
If you have an Amazon Echo, you can replicate this using Alexa Reminders. Your speaker will play a set message and/or tone at a designated time, which you can repeat on a specific schedule.
To set up Reminders, open the Alexa app on your iOS or Android device, tap the menu button in the upper left corner, and tap Reminders & Alarms > Reminders. Hit the plus symbol to create a new reminder, and enter what you want Alexa to say. From there, you can also edit the time, frequency and devices that broadcast the message.
Alexa also has the option to pair several actions together into a routine. Under the menu, select Routines and hit the plus sign. From here, follow the prompts to set up IFTTT routines on designated days and at designated times. As with Google Assistant, you can bring your other smart home devices into the mix.