We get how difficult it can be to get your kids to respect the value of goal-setting and taking the long view. Some of us are only just learning this lesson ourselves. Luckily, there’s a great tool right in our pockets: our smartphones. They can give us that last-mile push to turn idle fantasies into fulfilled goals, turn lukewarm hobbies into successful endeavors, and turn everyday chores into lifelong habits.
If you’re looking for digital tools to help your kids stick to their New Year’s resolutions, you may find these goal-setting apps useful in the new yer and beyond.
1. For High School: Schedule reminders with “Streaks”
iOS devices: Crunchy Bagel, $4.99
Android devices: Pilanites, free for up to five tasks
There are lots of habits high schoolers should either be practicing daily or working hard to vanquish while they’re completing their education and pondering life beyond.
Crunchy Bagel’s “Streaks” is built for the ground up for iOS, and it feels that way. Its design almost begs to be used. Users can track 12 different tasks or habits they’d either like to practice or stop practicing. Here are a few examples for using the app:
- Apply to X number of colleges per day this week.
- Spend X number of hours per week researching internships.
- Don’t do X until finals week is behind you.
- Stop doing X altogether, because it’s a bad habit.
You get the idea. With an easy user interface, appealing colors and the option for automatic or timed reminders per day, “Streaks” can help just about anybody get a handle on their daily lives and futures.
2. For High School: Manage financial goals with Spreadsheets
Numbers (Apple, Free)
Excel (Google Play, Free with Office 365 subscriptions)
Google Sheets (Google Play, Free)
High school is a perfect time to help students and future adults get into good habits where their money is concerned. You’ll want to explain that managing and understanding finances positively impacts their future, and that taking it seriously will pay off—starting today.
If you have an Apple product, you can use the in-house spreadsheet app, called “Numbers,” to begin keeping track of income, spending and long-term financial goals. You can use Microsoft’s suite of office products just as easily, or Google Docs, which includes a spreadsheet app called “Google Sheets.” Whichever software ecosystem you favor, remember to take a few minutes to learn how to implement formulas. They’re where the power really resides in spreadsheets about money matters, and they’ll help tally up weekly and monthly earning—and plot spending and saving well into the future.
3. For Kindergarten: Improve focus and limit screen time with “Bear Focus Timer” (IDEAMP, 99¢)
Or “KazuTime” for Android users (Google Play, $1.99)
Let’s switch gears to the little tykes for a minute. Using the now-famous Pomodoro technique, “Bear Focus Timer,” or “BFT,” provides a frankly irresistible interface featuring a lovable bear enjoying some time fishing. How does it work? Let’s just say the bear doesn’t like his contemplative time—nor your student’s time, when he should be concentrating on a school project, or maybe tidying up the room—interrupted. Once available for all devices, Bear Focus Timer is now only available on for iOS. Android users can try KazuTime, a similar app that uses puppies to help kids stay on task.
Limiting screen time in general for tykes is still a good idea, but these fun timer apps show how effective a little whimsical digital inspiration can be.
4. For Elementary School: Learn practical math skills with Fun Math Apps
“ClassHero for Math” (Hiperware Labs, Free)
“The Math Space Hero” (Google Play, Free)
We know that kids of elementary school age can be an unruly and demanding bunch. One thing you and your child can almost certainly agree on is that it’s a win for everybody if your kiddo can learn a few things that might have practical use someday—while earning rewards in the meantime. That’s why the popular “ClassHero” app is so cool: Youngsters get a pain-free booster course in mathematics, and they accrue spending power on everybody’s favorite internet retailer: Amazon. It can impart math skills as well as the virtue of saving one’s money for a larger prize. Android users can try the “The Math Space Hero Game,” in which kids must solve math problems to escape meteors.
5. For Junior High: Conquer the responsibilities of chores with “Homey”
iOS devices Homeylabs, Free with optional subscription
Android devices Google Play, Free
Finally, we come to another app designed to take potential misunderstandings and rancor out of a part of daily life. This time, it’s chores. If you’re raising kids who’re now in the exciting and precarious years known as junior high, you might stand among many millions of parents who want an easy-to-use tool that will help you and your kids stay on the same page about responsibilities around the house. At the same time, you can help them learn the value of a dollar and holding up one’s end of a bargain. There’s an app for that—including bringing some harsh love, mom-style, to the kids in the household, whether they’re youngsters in kindergarten or plotting their college years already. The “Homey” app allows you to set your kids’ recurring chores and manage their allowances.
One thing you don’t need an app for is teaching the virtue of patience and commitment. There’s also value in hearing kindly reminders from authority figures who’ve walked these roads before about the importance of planning for the future and cultivating good habits.