By Randy Kulman, Ph.D.
May 16, 2014
Children who struggle with executive functioning skills such as organization, planning, time management and working memory perform much better when they have the assistance of a parent, teacher, or coach to help them apply these skills. This can be problematic when a child has five homework assignments due within two days and can’t even figure out how to get started.
Unfortunately, personal support is not always available to help children know how, when and where effectively to use their executive functioning skills.
Fortunately there are a variety of powerful apps and technologies for improving executive functioning in children who may have weak executive functioning skills. While these apps will not transform children who walk around with a messy backpack filled with decaying, month-old lunches into highly organized and efficient people, they provide some support and scaffolding that can enhance children's overall executive functioning.
The key is for parents and educators to identify areas of executive weakness and then to find apps that practice and support those skills. The following are five of our favorites for supporting planning, working memory, organization, and time management.
30/30 is an app designed to help users prioritize and track the amount of time they spend on individual tasks or smaller parts of a larger undertaking. The app relies on the idea that individuals are more productive when taking short breaks in between work.
Users can program a series of tasks into 30/30, timing how long they spend dedicating effort and moving on to a new task when the app indicates time has expired. Find out more in our review.
Working Memory App
Whether it’s for memorizing literary terms or historical figures, flashcards are one of the most helpful learning tools. Quizlet is an app and a website that allows children to create their own digital flashcards so they can learn their terms and definitions.
This app is great for studying on the go, while the online version is better for inputting the information. The app even offers mini-games to make the process more engaging. Flashcards can be organized by class and subject, making Quizlet one of the best apps for working memory. See our Quizlet review for all the information.
YouNote! is a unique and creative take on traditional note-taking apps. This app allows users to take notes using a variety of different methods, ensuring that learners of all different types can stay organized. Users who benefit from learning visually can take advantage of YouNote!’s ability to take notes using hand-drawn images.
For those who learn better from auditory cues, this app also allows users to take voice-recorded notes. Notes can be tagged and sorted for easy access later. This app can be extremely helpful for keeping track of important information from school, home, or the workplace. Discover more in our YouNote! review.
Google Calendar is software available from nearly any computer or mobile device that allows a single user or group of users to create and maintain a digital calendar of events. Keeping track of upcoming assignments, obligations, or important appointments through Google Calendar can help users keep a hectic and busy life organized.
The program can be synced across multiple devices or shared with a group to ensure that everyone in the family, class, or workplace can stay organized and on the same page. Find out more in our Google Calendar review.
Time Management App
For a more academic approach to time management, consider downloading InClass. This scheduling app is geared towards middle-school, high-school, and college-aged students and lets users add class times, professors, homework, and due dates to their calendar. It is also a handy study tool, as it lets users attach recorded content, files, and notes to each reminder.
For older kids starting to manage large school work loads, InClass offers an excellent way to help them stay on top of assignments. Check out our InClass review for all the details.
Randy Kulman, Ph.D. is the Founder and President of LearningWorks for Kids http://learningworksforkids.com/ , an educational technology company that specializes in using video games to teach executive-functioning and academic skills. For the past 25 years, Dr. Kulman has also been the Clinical Director and President of South County Child and Family Consultants, a multidisciplinary group of private practitioners that specializes in assessment and interventions for children with learning disorders and attention difficulties.
Additionally, Dr. Kulman is the author of numerous essays on the use of digital technologies for improving executive-functioning skills in children. His current research projects include the development of a parent and teacher scale for assessing executive-functioning skills in children and a large survey study examining how children with ADHD and Autism use popular video games and apps.
He is an advisor and occasional writer for Commonsensemedia.org, and also writes columns for Inside ADHD and the South County Independent. He is the author of two books: Train Your Brain for Success: A Teenager’s Guide to Executive Functions and Playing Smarter in a Digital World. Dr. Kulman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.