Call it what you like. Middle school. Junior high. It’s all the same. At this age, kids are becoming more social and studying seems more difficult. We just got through our first year of my son’s junior high school. It was quite an adventure, but it did take us a little by surprise. Junior high requires so much more from him than elementary school in terms of organization, focus, and self-advocacy. Luckily, I have two useful tools at my disposable to help this year go even better for my son.
- My husband, who is a high school teacher.
- My son’s Samsung Galaxy S8 , which we bought at Target.
My husband has owned the Samsung Galaxy S8+ since the day it was released, so he knows the phone well. He is using my son’s new S8 to help him make sure nothing falls through the cracks this year. (Let’s hope that includes the phone too!)
Here is his advice…
Get yourself set up first. If you and your child don’t already have a Gmail account, sign up here to get the most out of your smart phone and the rest of this article. There are some other helpful (and free) apps to download before we begin. Head to the app store and grab Google Keep, Google Calendar, myHomework Student Planner, and Google Maps. One of the phone’s best features is that it comes with Google Assistant baked in, so there is no need to download it from the App Store. Just make sure you know how to use it. It’s simple: hold down the Samsung Galaxy S8’s virtual home key to active Google Assistant. You don’t have to type a thing to get its help. You just say what you want. The phone’s Snapdragon 835 processor is so fast you can see your words appear on the screen almost as fast as you can say them.
Now, let’s help your child get organized.
1. Set up “To Do” checklists
Research shows that using checklists prevents doctors, pilots, and other professionals from making mistakes. So why not incorporate this simple strategy into your child’s repertoire using Google Keep? Google Keep is a virtual sticky note app. Select the check-boxes from the bullet-point options and your child’s virtual sticky checklist is up and running. What’s more, by using the S8’s widget feature, your child can instantly glance at his to-do list without ever having to click. And with the touch of a finger, items are crossed off the list. Did he forget to add something to his list? No problem. With Google Keep’s share feature, you can see and easily add items to your child’s checklist right from your own phone. You can also see what he has accomplished. Make sure to praise him!
2. Create a subtle reminder
If school policy allows students to keep their phones in their pockets, a reminder can easily be set to vibrate one short, subtle burst at a specified time. Think of the vibration as a virtual string tied around your child’s wrist or finger. If there is something important you want your kid to remember to do, sit down together the night before and configure the vibration reminder using Google Assistant. Depending on what he needs to remember to do, that vibration could prompt her to ask the teacher about a missed assignment, to hand in a permission slip, or simply to do a random act of kindness. If you find that your child has trouble remembering to write down the homework assignment at the end of each class, set the reminder to vibrate two minutes before the end of each period. That should do the trick!
3. Keep track of homework
If school policy permits students to use their phones in class, your child can use his phone to replace his agenda planner. Keeping track of homework assignments using app myHomework Student Planner assignments at the end of each period is easy. The app will also automatically remind your child when he has an upcoming due date, quiz, paper, or test. It will even nag him to complete late work.
Alternatively, if your school is using Google Classroom, you can both download the Google Classroom mobile app so both of you always know what is going on– even when you are on the go.
4. Preview the day’s agenda
Even if school policy doesn’t allow students to bring their phones to class, that doesn’t mean a smart phone can’t still be a useful tech tool. Google Calendar boasts a handy shared family feature. Each parent and child in our family has their own calendar, but all of us can see it. This allows us to be proactive in planning without missing a beat. You can use it to help kids know when to bring their gym clothes to school, when they have practice after school, and even what’s for dinner that night. Before the school day begins, on the bus, is a perfect time for kids to review their agenda for the day.
5. Always know where your child is (and vice versa)
Google just rolled out a new feature in Google Maps called Share Location. We use it to know whether our son has left school for his wrestling match. He uses it to know whether we have left the house to pick him up. (If you don’t want your kid knowing your every move, don’t worry– that’s an easy setting to change.) Using Share Location this way helps cut down on unnecessary texting.
I can’t make your kid’s father a teacher. But I can share the tips that my son learned from his teacher dad to get organized for junior high. I hope that these inspire you to help your own teens integrate technology into their learning process. And if you’re really inspired, you can grab a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ from a Target store or online. You will receive a $200 Target GiftCard(TM) with the qualifying purchase of a GS8 or GS8+ at Target. Make sure to check back here for any future promotional updates that might be available with the purchase of a GS8 or GS8+ from Target.
At Target, the mobile phone specialists can even hook the phone up to the cell phone carrier of your choice. It was helpful to save myself another trip.
Of course my son is the most excited to have the phone to stay connected with his friends and take pictures, especially selfies. Have you seen the pictures the camera takes? My husband took this one from 30,000 feet over Greenland. The colors are stunning and the curved screen displays them elegantly. Also, I have added peace of mind with a Gorilla Glass screen and water resistant phone in my teen’s hands.
Here is to a flawlessly organized year for our kiddos this year! Thanks to Samsung getting us off to a great start.