In this issue, we examine how mobile apps can enhance study habits as well as help students master independent tasks--and even achieve developmental milestones. There is a great deal of research and discussion amongst experts regarding milestones for the first few years of child development. Unfortunately, the amount of research decreases drastically with regard to pre-adolescents, which is the second highest stage of change (development-wise) and occurs around the age of eleven (averaged for both genders). Puberty usually gets a lot of attention (and blame) for irresponsible behavior; however, I often hear from my students that the real reason that they did not complete an assignment was because they either felt overwhelmed or were unsure how to complete the task--not because they were being disobedient.
This post looks at keeping one's own schedule organized as a developmental milestone resulting from the ability to form abstract thoughts, age, and parental guidance toward independence. We specifically address practical tools using mobile apps to help students during this major transition. When choosing an app, pay close attention to the things that are important not just for functionality and flexibility, but also to visual aesthetics. For students, specifically, it MUST be visually attractive and age appropriate for it to get used! Students have different values when it comes to product selection--often indicative of what the newest technologies offer; follow the current technology trends and compliance from students is improved.
The design aspect cannot be stressed enough. According to Kellough and Kellough (1999), when developmental milestones are met for pre-adolescents, there are several capacities gained, particularly after the shift into abstract thinking around the age of twelve. Among them are the ability to project into the future and to independently formulate goals. Any business owner knows that success depends heavily on organizational skills, diligence, and goal completion. To be successful in these areas, one must have the tools to stay organized. Most adults use something to organize themselves that is often achieved through trial and error. Students do not have the benefit of experience and if an application is not intuitive, user-friendly, adaptable, and visually age appropriate then they are likely to use it less than required; therefore, the ability to formulate goals is not implemented effectively.
Almost everyone remembers middle school as a time of intense changes: cognitively, physically and emotionally. Cognitively, critical and analytical thinking are being developed more rapidly than ever; the ability to articulate ideas and opinions in the classroom is becoming commonplace, and independent thinking is more prominent. Not only are students thinking more for themselves, but they begin to take on more adult-like responsibilities by managing and adhering to their daily schedules. Sixth graders are usually expected to organize and manage their work as well as change classes for different subjects. The experience of mastering these skills ultimately enhances self-esteem, however, most students initially feel overwhelmed.
Students vary greatly with respect to the amount of guidance, support and structure they require to succeed, but they all need support on some level. A challenging task for parents and teachers is to understand a particular child's struggles, but rarely are tools offered as solutions to make their struggles easier; mobile apps have made this possible for practically every student. In my tutoring practice, I am always focused on customizing the learning environment, not just my teaching style, but by utilizing any and all tools or methods that can enhance the progress of my individual students. Apps that offer customization, such as the ability to turn off notifications for classes, assignments, or both, offer adaptability that is key to a successful app--while still remaining simple and intuitive to use. Adding multiple classes, assignments, quizzes, tests, or extracurricular events to a calendar with automatic notifications of upcoming due dates completely customizes the app to each student's life, depending on individual needs and goals. Such diligent time management skills inevitably prove to be life-long attributes.
We have examined how an app that is well-designed can help students reach developmental and cognitive milestones and how that relates to time management, organization, and diligence being instilled and engrained. A side benefit is the lowering or prevention of stress. As parents, educators and mentors, the best way to impact a student is to lead by example. If we manage our time well and stay organized with clear goals, students will likely follow suit; mobile apps can help our children learn these skills more efficiently and constructively. In the future, we will discuss the most effective learning methods; surprisingly to many, educational games have been found more effective than ever anticipated.