How to Help Your Child with Screen Anxiety in Distance Learning

I’m writing this morning on a topic that many of us are facing as we work to transition our children and teens into virtual learning environments during the pandemic. Screen anxiety shows up in children and teens when they resist, avoid, or shut down in the face of demands to participate in asynchronous and especially synchronous instruction during distance learning.

As a family therapist in Washington, D.C. and nearby Bethesda, MD, I have been treating many families with children who crashed and burned when virtual learning was introduced last spring. As a mom, I experienced it first hand at home. We all might have experienced the introduction of distance learning in different ways–some of us had no exposure in the first month of COVID and then were expected to get our kids online for video classes and live calls; others may have had live classes from the start after a week or two of spring break; and others of us might have been offered a hybrid of live classes, video instruction, packet learning, online learning tools, and interactive group projects to complete through the computer or independently. Yet, all of our children were quickly isolated at home, removed from their regular learning environments, distanced from their friends, deprived of social motivation and in-person connected learning from teachers and classmates, and traveling on a somewhat chaotic, uncertain path of learning.

Many children did fairly well with less than ideal learning circumstances. Most children/teens struggled a bit, and some suffered mightily especially school-aged kids. Despite the hard work of dedicated teachers and loving, committed parents, the problems that occurred were vast. I’ve heard countless stories.

My child refused after day #1! ~My son wouldn’t do anything other than online learning games.~ My child cried and screamed whenever asked to be on camera.~My child would always stay on mute.~My daughter learned nothing. ~My kid needed 100% one-on-one support throughout the entire school day, and therefore I couldn’t work at all.

And now, here we are in September and we are being asked to continue virtual schooling indefinitely. Kids are discouraged, parents are tired and teachers are trying. Yet, I think we have all learned some things from last spring. I know that I’ve spent the summer working on the systems that I will use to help my family with distance learning and coping in the midst of COVID. My colleague and friend, Ann Dolin, who is the Executive Director and Founder of Educational Connections, worked tirelessly over the summer to develop specialized tutoring and support programs to help families manage during this crisis (https://ectutoring.com).

And, as a family therapy practice treating hundreds of families weekly, our team has gathered some tips and suggestions from our lessons learned from COVID distance learning last year.

  1. This is not a one size fits all method. Please realize that distance learning in this manner and for lengthy periods of time especially for school-aged children is not developmentally appropriate. Under normal circumstances, teaching professionals would not support this model. Teachers are working hard to offer the best version of learning through online experiences, yet it will have some problems.
  2. Be kind and flexible with your child and yourself. Every child and family is different. There are no absolutes in what will or what won’t work. Commit to a schedule and plan, and be willing to flex it regularly.
  3. Communicate with your teacher about what your specific goals and plans are for your child. Send your child’s teacher an email with the following information–how distance learning went for your child last year, and what your goals are for your child with distance learning this year (i.e stay on camera, participate in live classes more and more, raise their hand on the camera, listen off-screen and on the mic until more comfortable, etc.)
  4. Create a good learning space. Have a separate desk for your child. Ideally, set up their own laptop, headphones with a good mic, and a wireless mouse. Work on a cleared desk. Use a whiteboard for the daily schedule. Have a separate folder with printouts. Have a box or drawer of good fidgets.
  5. Prepare for siblings learning together. Consider having break-out learning spaces for other siblings so they can work together and apart when needed. Use headsets for kids to minimize distractions. Separate desks at least arm lengths apart if you can. Designate a parent/person for certain blocks of the school day, or hire a childcare provider to help facilitate distance learning while you work.
  6. Buy back to school supplies to get prepared/excited. Help your kids get excited by buying some school supplies and setting up their work space. Everyone loves new notebooks and pens! Get something fun like erasable highlighters or a new wireless mouse, fun gel pens, and composition notebooks with cool designs.
  7. Try to start the same way daily. For the first couple of weeks, try to develop a routine. Have the same point-person start the day if you can. Try to have a routine and a fun outing daily to do during lunch break/recess (i.e. walk the dog, run a fun errand, etc).
  8. Follow the learning schedule flexibly. Write out the schedule daily on a dry erase board. Cross off each class and task when your child completes it. If your child is overwhelmed by how long the day looks, break down the schedule into morning and afternoon and only write out half the day at first. Let your child take body breaks when needed.
  9. Start with realistic and customized goals for your child. If s/he is scared of being on-screen with his or her mic on, s/he can participate off-screen and off-mic at first. Just be sure to tell his/her teacher that is your plan and that you are working with your child to increase their comfort. Then gradually add a feature–turn on the mic, or turn on the screen during fun activities, help your child respond in chat, or raise their hand virtually, etc.
  10. Ask your teacher not to call out or on your child at first if you are worried that they will become too anxious or meltdown. Advocate for your child’s feelings while still expecting them to grow in becoming more comfortable on screen. Expose them to other less threatening virtual interactions (i.e. zoom calls grandparents regularly, interactive apps or facetime with friends, etc).
  11. Create a ladder. Write out with your child their fears or resistance about being in a virtual class. 10 is the scariest and 0 is all ok. Help them think about instances that might make them anxious and write them down and rate them (i.e. Being called on in class. Having my teacher ask me to respond on mic. Getting the answer wrong in the chat. Having everyone see my face on the screen. Having to look at everyone’s faces all at once on-screen.) Try to build a list of coping strategies for each level of concern.
  12. Be willing to accommodate and adjust your child’s learning experience. If your child is fearful or averse to looking at everyone fully in the face on-screen, you can have him/her sit to the side and just listen to class at first, doodle, or play with a fidget rather than focus on the screen images. You also can have them minimize the zoom window so they don’t see everyone, or they can hide their image.
  13. Expose them gradually, kindly, and steadily to new screen skills. Start at the bottom of their ladder and pick a strategy that they can use that day that helps them get more and more comfortable with working on-screen. Pair that new skill with a relaxing activity or coping skill. For instance, they might take a screen break or “shake it off” after showing up on-screen for 5-10timed minutes. Or they could play with thinking putty while they are off-screen but on-mic and answering questions. We are working towards progress, not perfection!
  14. Recognize that they are learning a multitude of skills at once which could cause information and emotional overload. Most school-aged kids don’t have typing skills. Some may not have any computer skills. So trying to learn math, while using OneNote, and typing their answers while also talking and listening and watching on-screen may just be too much, right!?! Have paper and pencils ready to replace OneNote if needed and type their answers for them. Consider practicing a typing program as it makes sense.
  15. Emphasize, empathize, empathize–And Still Return Certain Standards. When your child complains, share in those feelings…”This IS awful!” Match their emotion and intensity and then return to a calm voice if you can. Don’t forget to return to certain goals and standards (even if just silently to yourself in that moment) and consistently ask them to participate. If we give up, we teach our kids that they can’t do hard things and that we can’t help them overcome difficult tasks. Don’t pressure, yet do be kind and firm.

Look: what we are doing as parents is really really challenging—working, teaching, coping with chronic stress, and uncertainty. It actually can feel impossible and insurmountable in the moment. Yet, we can do hard things for the sake of our kids. We just have to keep them in mind as we flex and work. Don’t forget to start by acknowledging and appreciating yourself each morning. You make your home run, and get to bring joy or angst into the day. Try to acknowledge the worry that you wake up with, honor it, and then calm yourself for a minute. Then, if you can, try to consciously choose how you want to feel with your child that day. Try to imagine the relationship that you want to create (even when it isn’t playing out that way at that exact moment) when faced with too much adversity in your school day. If your child is resisting or avoiding, take a minute to reconnect with them through a 5-minute break that is light and easy and then start again. And, if you find you need additional help, give yourself that help.

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How to Ask a Teacher for Help When You’re Virtual

Last spring, the shift to a virtual learning environment represented a sudden, emergency shift for schools, students, and parents alike. Everyone was adjusting in numerous ways.

Looking towards the start of the new school year, Educational Connections is dedicated to helping make this transition as smooth and effective as possible. Parents have a LOT of questions.

One common concern we have heard a lot is that kids are finding it much harder to reach out to their teachers for help when they are behind a computer across town, instead of behind a desk in the same room. What are some ways or tactics kids can use to get extra help, clarification on assignment, or speak up when they’re struggling? What can parents do to help?

In the physical classroom, kids can give subtle physical signals for help, hang out after class, or go find a teacher at lunch. In the virtual environment, it’s not that easy. 

Here are some ways to ask for help within the virtual learning environment:

  • Be sure to speak up when the teacher asks, “Are there any questions?”
  • Use the “raise hand” feature within the online learning platform during class
  • Put questions in the chat, using the “send privately” option if that feels more comfortable
  • Email the teacher directly after class while the question is fresh in your mind
  • Ask questions on the teacher assignment page
  • Schedule time virtually with teacher one to one during the teacher planning time
  • Ask for a recording of the class or/or a copy of the teacher’s notes

If the child is very reserved, nervous or shy, you can help them write an email saying something like, “I’m having trouble understanding how to do [are of difficulty or confusion]. Can you please help me with this?” The approach works well because the student is likely to get a positive response. And when they do, they’re more likely to ask for assistance again.

Alternatively, if the student is young or especially timid, you can send an email saying, “I’ve noticed that my child needs help, but is very nervous about asking a question in front of the other kids. Do you have any suggestions?” This allows you to be helpful without taking over or being confrontational in any way. 

Most importantly, please know that teachers want and expect kids to ask for help. We do as well. Please click on the button below to talk about your specific concerns, and schedule your free consultation with one of our learning experts.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Summer Screen Time Struggles

Are you looking for a fun way to keep your kids active, engaged, and off their screens this summer? We can help! Click here to schedule a free consult and learn more about our special summer tutoring experience.

Summer sure has changed since you were a kid, hasn’t it? Where your parents had to beg you to come back inside for dinner, you may find yourself begging your child to put down the screens and head outside or read a book.

Screen time can be a point of tension year round, but without the distraction of school and homework, you may find the tech battle getting worse. We’re here to help! Check out these tips to stop the fight before it starts and keep your child academically engaged all summer long.

  • Tip #1: Communicate expectations now. Don’t wait until you’re angry to talk about screen time with your kids. Instead, sit down early in the summer to discuss how much screen time is appropriate and how your family will spend the summer days.
  • Tip #2: Discuss priorities, not just restrictions. Putting strict limits on screen time can just invite an argument. Try discussing the activities your kids must prioritize each day before they can play on their screens, like chores, summer reading, or outdoor play time.
  • Tip #3: Model healthy screen time. As much as we’d love for kids to do what we say, they almost always do what we do. Be conscious of how much time you’re spending on your own screen in front of your kids to keep pushback to a minimum.
  • Tip #4: Present your child with a fun alternative. Too much screen time is both an indicator and cause of boredom. Give your child a fun alternative to keep them mentally engaged over the break, like our summer tutoring experience.

Our tutors plan special games and hands-on activities to help your child beat boredom, stay academically engaged, prepare for the year ahead… and have fun!

Here’s what EC Tutoring parent Mark Watson had to say about his child’s summer tutoring experience:

Our tutor was absolutely terrific! She always came prepared with great material for our daughter, and did a wonderful job with keeping her engaged throughout every session. Our daughter would look forward to each visit and was visibly excited before and after each of her sessions.

Summer tutoring shouldn’t be a punishment or a drudgery. It’s actually a fun way to keep your kids academically and mentally engaged, and to minimize your screen time battles! Here’s how it works:

Step 1

 

Request a free consult to learn more about our summer tutoring experience.

Step 2

 

Meet your match, the tutor handpicked for your child’s needs and personality.

Step 3

 

Say goodbye to screen time battles and hello to a fun, academically engaging summer!

 

Still not sure the summer tutoring experience is right for your child? A free consult is a great, no-pressure opportunity for you to connect with our staff, discuss your goals for the summer, and see if we can help. Just click here to schedule a call. We look forward to talking with you!

Should cell phones be banned at school?

“Put it down.”
 
“I’m serious, put it down or it goes away.”
 
“Have you been on this the whole time you’ve been up here!?”

If any of these three statements ring true for you, then you’re probably in the same boat as every other parent out there: in a constant tug-of-war with your kids over “technology use.”

But is the technology really the problem?

Or is it just the symptom of other bad habits?

The debate continues.

On the one hand, some schools encourage smart phone and “device” usage to enhance the instructional experience.

In fact, this is the policy we have here in Fairfax County. From the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy page:

With classroom teacher approval, students may use their own devices to access the Internet and collaborate with other students. By allowing students to use their own technology on campus, we are hoping to increase access so that all students have the technology they need to succeed.

As the argument goes, we have more access to information now than ever before, enabled by the internet. Why would we deny our kids the opportunity to use those tools to their advantage during school?

On the other hand, schools across the country continue to ban phone usage altogether.

Middle schools in North Carolina and Missouri, and an entire school district in Michigan recently put the kibosh on cell phones entirely, arguing that it’s a slippery slope to distraction, texts in class, and excessive social media usage.

From the Michigan school district article:

According to Superintendent Ramont Roberts, the new policy is a means of establishing a learning environment that is conducive to student achievement.

 

“We found the phones were a distraction,” Roberts said. “We are hoping to eliminate the distraction and increase student achievement in our learning environment…”

 

“We had a very difficult time in getting students to comply,” Roberts said.

 

By not being able to strictly enforce the policy, officials ran into several problems including students viewing social media, texting and making calls during class time and recording inappropriate things in school.

 

“All the above were occurring during the instructional day, not to mention teachers constantly having to tell students to put their phones away,” Roberts said.

So what do you think?

Are cell phones the problem? Or should they be allowed under specific conditions and/or supervised use?

Is technology really the problem?

Speaking of technology…

When it comes to the academic success and health of our students a lot of blame gets passed around these days to smart phones, social media, and internet usage in general.

Some of that blame seems to be well-deserved. For one thing, back in our day, the potential for bullying pretty much ended when the bell rang.

But on the academic front, there is an argument to be made that social media is just the video games of last decade, or the TV of the decade prior to that. It’s just the latest easy-entry distraction for kids who feel overwhelmed by their schoolwork.

As Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, Daniel Willingham, writes in his excellent book Why Don’t Students Like School?

“People like to solve problems, but not to work on unsolvable problems. If schoolwork is always just a bit too difficult for a student, it should be no surprise that she doesn’t like school much.”

Solving problems brings pleasure if they are hard enough that the answer isn’t totally certain, but not so hard that we can barely get started.

Our Executive Function Coaches find the same pattern in the students they work with:

Kids find their way to distractions when a homework assignment, project, or studying feels too big and overwhelming.

One way to help with the problem is to employ a technique what we call “remove the barrier to entry.”

First, have your son or daughter break large tasks into smaller tasks. Then make the “barrier to entry” almost nonexistent.

By setting the threshold for getting started so low that it is almost a guarantee that he or she will be successful in completing the task, we can help get the ball rolling by making the student feel a sense of confidence that they can actually move forward.

Two different ways to do this are to focus on either time or task.

  1. To focus on time, set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Have them commit: “I’m going to read for 10 minutes and then I can take a short break before restarting.” And then step through that process, bit by bit.
  1. Alternatively, you can choose to focus on task. For example, you could select just 5 out of the 30 vocabulary words assigned to study first, before moving on to the next group.

For some additional examples on how to do this you can read the full article and look at Tip #5: Remove the barrier to entry.

And if you’d like some personalized 1-on-1 help for your child to improve their organization, work on time management, and bolster their study skills, click the button below to contact us.

Contact us to see if an Educational Coach is the right fit

 

“This last session, in particular, is exactly the type of help Ellen needs… Thank you so much! And the work is paying off: Ellen brought home an exceptionally good report card yesterday – all of her grades went up and she had the most ‘4’s I’ve seen on her report card yet! We were so excited and she was beaming.” ~ John, ECT Parent

StudyBlue vs Quizlet: Which Is The Best Study App?

studyblue vs quizlet image 1For the last few years, I’ve had the privilege of serving on the Washington DC board of the International Dyslexia Association. One of my fellow board members, Sonya Atkinson, gave a fantastic presentation called “A Guide to Creating Your Digital Backpack.”

In it she shared a wealth of information about using technology to become more organized and to study more efficiently.

One of the programs she reviewed, StudyBlue, is a tool that many of our tutors have used successfully with students, and even more importantly, it’s one that students enjoy using! 

After Sonya’s workshop, I asked her a few quick questions about the ins and outs of StudyBlue, and about the differences between StudyBlue vs Quizlet.

Why is StudyBlue so popular?

Sonya: StudyBlue is both a web-based program and an application that can be downloaded to any device regardless of your platform. It allows you to do note-taking and then turn your notes into digital flashcards. You can study your flashcards in a simple flashcard way or you can actually take a test and do a multiple choice test or a fill in the answer. The software will score it and send you your results.

studyblue vs quizlet image2

How can StudyBlue help students study more efficiently?

Sonya: The software will keep track of how many you’re getting right and how many you’re getting wrong. When you go back to study from that deck again, you have the option of studying the entire deck or just studying the items you answered incorrectly. That way you’re just focusing on the ones you don’t know rather than the ones you do.

Can you attach audio information since so many students learn well auditorally?

Sonya: When you’re creating a flashcard you have the option of uploading an image. That can be something from your files or you can literally pull something, anything from the internet. You can incorporate that into your flashcard. You can also voice record, so there’s an option to just say the answer to the flash card and then it just saves your voice. Students can also record what they’re reading on the flashcard. You can study by listening to yourself.

That sounds very multi-sensory. You also mentioned that other people upload their flashcards so that students can view others’ information. Can you tell us how that works?

Sonya: When you are making the flashcard deck and you are saving it you have the option of saving it either publically or privately. It defaults to a public save. That way, you can search for other flashcards that are available on the public domain. You are pulling from notes that students or teachers have made and you can download that information into your own flashcard set.

Can StudyBlue motivate kids to study?

Sonya:  A lot of my students, such as those taking high school biology, have a lot to memorization. StudyBlue allows them to make flash cards directly from their notes.  It saves time because it’s as simple as copy and paste. They don’t have to retype the information; the flashcard decks are created instantaneously. Another feature that is available in StudyBlue is auto population of definitions.

Say you are working on the Krebs Cycle in biology. When you are making the flash card and you type in “Krebs Cycle,” the program will automatically bring up all the other definitions that have been created by other users. You can just take one of those, you can use the definition from your notes, or you can type in your own response. Once you’ve built that flash card, on the other side a whole bunch of other terms related to Krebs Cycle will also auto populate. More often than not, those are all the terms you will need to know.

StudyBlue vs Quizlet: StudyBlue sounds a bit like Quizlet. What’s the big difference?

For me, I find that the big difference is that you can do your note taking right in StudyBlue. In Quizlet you have to input all of the digital flashcards yourself. I know that they have an upload option, I believe if you put it in a two-column format in excel you can upload the file and make flashcards.

But that’s a little tricky and you have to know how to use excel to manipulate that. With StudyBlue you can take your notes right in the program itself; however many students use a basic Word document, google drive, Evernote, or something of the like. What’s neat is that you can also upload those notes and then make your note cards right in StudyBlue.

Is StudyBlue is more robust than Quizlet?

In my experience, yes. I think the kids who tend to use Quizlet are younger and utilize it only for its flashcard interface. Many students don’t know of StudyBlue and all the rich features it has since it’s newer to the marketplace.

What’s your experience?

Have you or your kids used StudyBlue or Quizlet? What has been your experience? And do you have any other favorite study apps you like to use?

Leave a comment below!

Top Apps To Focus and Finish

As students prepare for exams before winter break, many are having a hard time getting and staying focused when their cell phones are inches away. We know taking away these electronics will cause a battle and result in an argument, but how do we get them to focus on studying and not Snapchat? Today, I interviewed with WTOP radio about top apps that students can download to focus and finish.

 

How do you encourage your child to develop good study habits?

One thing we know for certain is that each child faces their own unique challenges when it comes to studying; But what we’ve found that it’s common for kids to procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed and underprepared. So they will put off studying when there’s a lot to do, especially for a quarter test or mid-term exam. And if you have a kid like that, start off by asking powerful questions.

Instead of “Have you studied?” ask, “What are the three things you’re going to do to get ready for that exam?” or, “How will you know you’ve studied successfully?” By asking questions, you’re not telling your child what to do, you’re helping them to figure it out with a bit of guidance.

 

5789da94-c6bd-4413-b0ff-0ac3d6c335f0With so many assignments online these days, it seems like kids are more distracted than ever by their computers.

Yes, that’s absolutely true. Think of it from your child’s point of view. Would you rather scroll through your twitter feed or study for math? Play Minecraft or complete that study guide? For most kids, technology is much more interesting. And although it can be a distraction, technology can also be an advantage.

I love the apps Self Control for Mac and Stay Focused for PCs. They both allow kids to blacklist websites they deem to be distracting (Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, whatever it may be) for a certain period of time, say 20 or 30 minutes, so they can focus on what they should be doing – studying.

 

What about the phone? I bet that distracts kids even more than what’s on their computer screen.

Yes, and kids think nothing of having their phone in hand while studying, but they really do not need it to study – even if they say they do! It’s okay to have a basket labeled, “electronics go here” say to your kids, “put your phone here until you’re done studying and then it’s all yours.” If this might be hard for you, another option is an app called Forest. Whenever kids want to focus, they click the app to plant a tree. In the time they set, say 20 minutes, a tree will grow while they’re studying. But, if they leave the app, the tree will wither and die. So the harder they work and study, the lusher their forest is, and that’s motivating to kids!

 

5 Fun Apps to Spark Inspiration

myHomeworkIn 1752, Benjamin Franklin experimented with electricity on a dark and stormy night and discovered the lightening rod. He was a major figure in working with electricity and the advancement of technology. Fast forward 264 years and technology has produced devices that can fit in the palm of your hand!

Technology has become an important part of our daily lives, but it doesn’t have to be used just for entertainment. There are a number of educational apps available for students to practice typing, reading, writing, and sharpening creative skills.

Here are five great apps to spark inspiration anywhere, any time:

  1. My Coloring Book by Jeff Pedersen

My Coloring Book allows kids to use a wide variety of colors to express their creativity. Avoid the mess of crayons and markers by coloring on an iPhone or iPad. This app helps with hand-eye coordination and is kid tested. You can even save your designs to your phone’s photos to print out.

  1. Rush Hour by ThinkFun, Inc.

Choose among 35 challenges as a beginner or a high expert and work to get a car free from the traffic jam. The goal is to move the car from the traffic jam by moving the blocking cars and trucks from its path. This app won the 2010 Parents’ Choice Gold Award for excellence in mobile play – and it’s free!

  1. TapTyping – Typing trainer by Flairify LLC

Now you can master typing on the go! Work on capitalization, punctuation, numbers, complicated sentences and symbols, and more. This is helpful for students who need to practice typing more before the school year starts. The app helps correct grammar by highlighting red and green words.

  1. Animal Jam – Play Wild! By Wildworks, Inc.animal_jam_logo

With this app, your child can become their favorite animal and learn about real animals and their habitats. Your child can build and decorate their own den, personalize their animal, and shop for clothes, furniture and other items. Wildworks partners with National Geographic to bring together education and technology in a new and fun way! There is also a secure log-in to protect privacy.

  1. Letris 4: Best word puzzle game by Ivanovich Games

Build words to keep your screen clear and empty as long as possible. There are more than 300 free levels, from relaxing to challenging. You can even challenge your friends with a multiplayer mode to see who can build the best words! This app allows you to sync up with an iPad, iPhone, or Facebook.

Let us know if you downloaded these fun apps and what kind of apps your kids are playing!

[sc:HS-disorganized-student]

5 Fun Education Apps to Promote Creativity

When I was a kid, “being creative” involved huge boxes of broken crayons, construction paper, Play-doh, and glitter among other things.  I usually had to clear a big space on the dining room table, don a smock, and spend a lot of time cleaning up afterward.  It was a big production and sometimes deterred me from wanting to do it in the first place. Nowadays, there are hundreds of apps available that allow kids to be creative.  Although they may not provide the same type of satisfaction as getting covered in paint and glue, they do allow for kids to learn, explore, and grow.  They’re also portable and clean, and you’ll never get stuck with all one color that you don’t use very often. Here are 5 fun education apps to promote creativity.

 

  1. Faces iMake
    Faces-iMake-HDLarge

 

 

Designed for kids around age five, this colorful app allows the user to make faces out of everyday objects.  The user is able to choose from a wide range of images of everything from fruit to pots and pans to Russian nesting dolls.

 

  1. DIY

    app1

This free app for kids ages eight and up lets the user share projects that they created with others, get ideas, and earn badges for skills they’ve mastered.  It covers everything from coding to farming.  Some suggested projects may require outside purchases, but there are several that require nothing but imagination.

 

  1. Algodoo

 screenshot

Algodoo is an app that allows the user to create moving 2-dimensional scenes out of cartoony objects such as gears, shapes, and chains.  You can also add physical elements such as water, light refraction, and gravity.  This app is great for teaching science concepts and encouraging creativity at the same time.  It is designed for students ages 11 and up.

 

 

  1. Sketchbook Pro

sketchbook-pro-ui-fullSketchbook Pro is drawing and painting software, and this app brings it right to your phone or tablet.  The user is able to create drawings and paintings, but can also incorporate 3-dimensional shapes in order to teach and show perspective.  This app is designed for students ages 13 and up, and it’s great for those kids who always seem to be doodling or drawing cartoon characters on their notebooks.

 

  1. Procreate

procreate3

Procreate is an illustration app with gorgeous visuals.  It is considered to be the best in the industry and has a myriad of high-level next-generation features.  This app would be great for the student who is starting to get serious about art.  The only hitch is that it is exclusively for the iPad.

 

A Great App for Eliminating Distractions During Homework

Technology and Teenagers

SelfcontrolMy 16-year old son is really into technology.  I mean really!  He typically stays on task when using his Mac for studying and completing assignments, but sometimes the lure of surfing the web is hard to resist.  I can understand his dilemma.  Trending videos on YouTube vs. math homework.  Checking your Twitter feed vs. writing an essay.  What would you pick?  When schoolwork is tedious or difficult, picking the more pleasurable activity is understandable, but the problem is that math and writing get pushed later into the evening, sometimes, too late.

April 1, 2014, Oakton, Virginia

Last night, I came home from work and talked to my kids about their day.  Will told me about a neat new website he was using called SelfControl.

He showed me how he can “blacklist” websites by disabling their usage for a period of time.  He typed in six websites from Amazon to Twitter and then disabled them for 30 minutes.  Check out this image for how’s it’s done (time selected was an hour).

self control timer

I wanted proof that it really worked, so he logged onto Facebook, and here’s what popped up.

This app doesn’t mess around.  By adding sites students know will distract them from their school work, they can get those mundane assignments done by working diligently until the time expires.  Even if they restart their computer or delete the application, they are still unable to access the blacklisted sites.

According to Will and his friends, this app helps kids to be far more efficient and productive.

The good news is that works like a gem and it’s free.  The bad is that it’s only available on Mac…for now.

There are other fantastic apps that our educational coaches teach students how to use.  Here are some prior articles that might interest you:

A great app for studying: https://ectutoring.com/best-study-app

Productivity apps for high school students: https://ectutoring.com/more-productive-high-school-student-apps

App for the SAThttps://ectutoring.com/the-best-sat-prep-app

What’s your favorite app for getting things done?  I’d love to hear your suggestions.  And if you need a help determining if one of our coaches can help your middle or high schooler, drop me a line!  [email protected]