10 Tech Tips and Tricks for Homeschool Families

homeschool mom planning and using tech to schedule her homeschool10 Tech Tips and Tricks for Homeschool Families

By Meryl van der Merwe

 

Homeschooling is time-consuming and homeschool moms are constantly juggling many things at once. I decided this was the perfect time of the year to share 10 tech tips and tricks that help me to be more productive and organized. Best of all, these tools are free!

Simplify Your Life With Google Drive

If you aren’t already using Google Drive and the Google Drive apps, be sure to listen to episode 2 of my Homeschooling With Technology podcast to learn other ways you can use these amazing apps! Google Drive apps make it easy to share anything: documents, spreadsheets, slides, surveys and more can all be shared with your children, husband, and homeschool friends.

Using Google for Homeschool Assignments

When your children submit assignments using Google docs or slides, you can comment and make suggestions for improvements right in the document. Because you simply share the Google Drive files with others, you are both always looking at the latest version. You save time and effort (and confusion) since you avoid emailing multiple files back and forth! If another user accidentally messes up someone else’s changes you can easily go back to an earlier version! Google saves your changes automatically.

Send Large Files Using Google Drive

Ever tried to email a video or other large file to someone and you can’t because the file is too large? Just upload it to Google Drive and then share the link and you are set!

Organize Links With Evernote

How many times have you found an amazing website, read a great blog post, or watched an interesting video – and thought you would remember where you saw it? Bookmark them all so you can come back to them whenever you want. There are many ways to bookmark links, but my favorite is to use Evernote. Create folders and save links in the relevant folder so they stay organized. If you use the Chrome browser, there is an Evernote extension that lets you “clip” any URL or highlighted text to save it in your folders.

Keep Your Browser Uncluttered

Maybe you are like me – really bad at having a LOT of tabs open at the same time. Recently I discovered a tool that has helped me declutter my browser. Often when I see something mentioned in a newsletter or a blog post that looks interesting, I am not yet certain that I want to save it. Now instead of keeping the tab open (which slows down my poor laptop dramatically), I use Toby! It allows me to drag the open tabs into a storage place. The Toby extension is available for the Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers which makes the process super fast. Now I assign things I see to Toby and when I am ready to go through them, I open a new tab – and there they are.

Digital Scheduling Tips

When you use technology to schedule your children’s schoolwork and chores, it is simple to update their schedules every week or even daily. Effortlessly copy the parts of the schedule that remain the same and only update what needs to change.  Move part of the schedule to another day using Google Sheets or the Google Calendar. These are both great scheduling tools but my personal favorite is Trello. With Trello you can have lists for each child and use those to post their assignments or chores for each day. They can check tasks off as they complete them allowing you to keep track of how they are doing. Trello is available for desktop or as an app, so it is ideal for teens who like being on their phones.

Online Study Tools

Online flashcards are great study tools! Websites like Studystack and Quizlet allow your students to learn with games and create their own flashcards. This is a fun way for them to review and hone their memory skills!

Streamline Grocery Shopping

For years now I have used the Anylist app on my iPhone. My husband and teens each had it on their phones so that whenever someone noticed something was running low they could add it to our list. The app is also great for keeping track of supplies for homeschool projects. With Anylist the shopping list is updated and on my phone, so no more shopping lists left at home! And if my husband is stopping at the grocery store on his way home, he can pick up everything else on the list and save me a trip.

Proofreading Tricks

Use Grammarly as your proofreader. Add the Grammarly extension to your Chrome toolbar and you have an automatic grammar and spelling checker everywhere you type online. In fact, it is what I am using as I type this post! Teach your children to use it to check their work. If you don’t use a Chrome browser, you can still sign up for Grammarly. Just cut and paste your child’s essay and Grammarly will highlight errors.

Stay Informed and Get Inspired

Keep up to date with your favorite podcasts! As you teach your children, don’t forget you need to grow and learn yourself. I struggle to find time to read the many blog posts I find, but podcasts have become my favorite way to self-educate. The Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network has many shows that are useful to homeschool students and parents.  The Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network website (right here) makes it easy to find podcasts from experts on homeschooling and Christian parenting. You can subscribe and listen on your favorite apps, listen right here from the website or sign up for a weekly email with links directly to all your favorite homeschool podcasters.

In fact, if you found these tips and tricks useful, be sure to subscribe to my podcast, Homeschooling with Technology for more on using tech to simplify your homeschool and your life! Each podcast episode is just 15 minutes long but is full of practical information you can use every day. The beauty of following your favorite podcast is that you can listen while you exercise, on trips to the store or while waiting to fetch a child from an activity. You don’t even have to listen to a whole podcast at a time – sometimes it takes me all week to listen to a long episode. Most podcasts (mine included) have show notes, so it is easy to look up a resource that is mentioned when you get back to your computer.

More Planning Tools

Finally, it’s back to homeschool season and some of the best resources for planning a curriculum, adding fun to your lessons, creating a new schedule or organizing your days, can be found online. Visit with me at the Homeschooling With Technology podcast this week and find many more Online Resources to Help you Select Curriculum. I invite you to join in the discussion with the rest of our online community on Facebook and gather more ideas with us on Pinterest and Instagram.

Did you find these tips and tricks useful? Which are you already using and which do you plan to try? I would love to know – so leave me a comment here or email me!

Back to School Replay: I Love Homeschooling But I Am Totally Disorganized

 I Love Homeschooling But I am TOTALLY Disorganized! Get some tips from Fletch and Kendra on this episode of Homeschooling IRL. #homeschool #organization So you love the idea of homeschooling, but you are totally disorganized? Is this a deal killer? Should you pack up your kids and send them off to the local school house where they will be kept on track by rigid teaching plans that maintain scope and sequence?

It’s time for us all to get real with one another. Is your lack of organization thwarting your efforts at homeschooling? At the end of the day, the week, the month, are you constantly playing catch-up and putting out the fires caused by disorganization? If so, this is the episode you will want to listen to.

What about the other side of this issue? As a busy productive homeschool parent, have you forgotten along the way that relationships need to come before agendas? Are you such a task-master that you forgot the children God gave you to develop loving relationships with?

Organization in the homeschool can be both a blessing and a curse. On this episode of Homeschooling In Real Life, join Fletch and Kendra as they get transparent with their listeners and have the discussion out loud about balancing the need to bring organization into your family and preventing that same organization from destroying relationships.

HIRL-Episode-32

 


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor -Time 4 Learning

Time4Learning provides the tools and resources students need to build skills and confidence in the core subjects like math, language arts, science, and social studies. No matter how long you’ve been homeschooling or whatever your current situation, Time4Learning is a flexible, online curriculum that can be tailored to your child’s individual needs.

The comprehensive, award-winning curriculum allow students to study confidently and excel at their own pace, making it ideal for all kinds of learners, whether they are mainstream, gifted or special needs.

Click Here to Visit Time 4 Learning!


Best Shows Replay: How to Get Organized with the FLYLady

Homeschool FLYing: Get Organized with the FLYLady podcast; The Homeschool Sanity ShowHow to get organized with the FLYLady

While Melanie is on vacation this month, we have a few of her best episodes scheduled! Do you want to learn how to get organized with the FLYLady?

I am so excited about this episode of the Homeschool Sanity Show and if you have struggled to get organized like I did when I started homeschooling 16 years ago, I think you will love my interview with Marla Cilley, the FLYLady. Even though I’ve been FLYing for years, I found myself incredibly motivated to make this year an even more orderly one after chatting with her.

If you share my enthusiasm for homeschool organization, I think you’ll love my new book, The Organized Homeschool Life. It will help you organize your entire homeschool life 15-minutes at a time.  

The Organized Homeschool Life | how to get organized with the FLYLady

Links

Sink Reflections

Body Clutter

FlyLady & Friends podcast

Amy Kuddy TED Talk

Simply Homeschooling with Tami Fox

Homeschool Teacher Control Joural

Little Hands to Heaven Preschool curriculum (15 minutes at a time)

FLYLady Events page

The Power of Homeschool Routines with FLYLady

 

Have a happy homeschool week!

Organizing Challenges for the New Year

Organizing is a popular goal for the new year. If you’re a homeschooler wanting to get organized, it can be hard to know where to start. Consider the six areas I share in this podcast episode.

Homeschool Organizing Challenges You Should Take On This Year podcast


Want to read the podcast as a blog post? READ HERE or SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES or ON STITCHER

Links

Free Stars Unit Study

Airtable.com

a comprehensive post about the best places buy/sell used curriculum

Konmari method  for folding clothes

Plan to Eat

Tastefully Simple’s 30 day meal plan

free meal planning book

The Organized Homeschool Life

theorganizedhomeschoollife_2piecemockup

 

Which area are you organizing first? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.

How to Get Organized with the FLYLady

Homeschool FLYing: Get Organized with the FLYLady podcast; The Homeschool Sanity Show
I am so excited about this episode of the Homeschool Sanity Show. If you have struggled to get organized like I did when I started homeschooling 16 years ago, I think you will love my interview with Marla Cilley, the FLYLady. Even though I’ve been FLYing for years, I found myself incredibly motivated to make this year an even more orderly one after chatting with her.

If you share my enthusiasm for homeschool organization, I think you’ll love my new book, The Organized Homeschool Life. It will help you organize your entire homeschool life 15-minutes at a time. It’s 50% off from now until January 4th, 2016.

The Organized Homeschool Life

Links

Sink Reflections

Body Clutter

FlyLady & Friends podcast

Amy Kuddy TED Talk

Simply Homeschooling with Tami Fox

Homeschool Teacher Control Joural

Little Hands to Heaven Preschool curriculum (15 minutes at a time)

FLYLady Events page

The Power of Homeschool Routines with FLYLady

Next Week

How to Homeschool in Less Time

Have a happy homeschool week!

I Love Homeschooling But I Am Totally Disorganized – HIRL Episode 32

HIRL-Episode-32So you love the idea of homeschooling, but you are totally disorganized? Is this a deal killer? Should you pack up your kids and send them off to the local school house where they will be kept on track by rigid teaching plans that maintain scope and sequence?

It’s time for us all to get real with one another. Is your lack of organization thwarting your efforts at homeschooling? At the end of the day, the week, the month, are you constantly playing catch-up and putting out the fires caused by disorganization? If so, this is the episode you will want to listen to.

What about the other side of this issue? As a busy productive homeschool parent, have you forgotten along the way that relationships need to come before agendas? Are you such a task-master that you forgot the children God gave you to develop loving relationships with?

Organization in the homeschool can be both a blessing and a curse. On this episode of Homeschooing In Real Life, join Fletch and Kendra as they get transparent with their listeners and have the discussion out loud about balancing the need to bring organization into your family and preventing that same organization from destroying relationships.

Episode Timeline
1:49 Introduction to the podcast
3:32 Sponsored by Grapevine Studies
4:56 Studio Discussion Part 1 – Where is the balance in homeschool organization?
14:40 Studio Discussion Part 2 – Organization brings freedom.
18:09 Studio Discussion Part 3 – Advice for homeschooling dads.
28:06 Studio Discussion Part 4 – Organization resources.
30:28 Listener questions/answers


Join Fletch (from theMangoTimes) and Kendra (from Preschoolers and Peace) for the HomeschoolingIRL podcast every two weeks as they interview guests and talk through some of the goofiness they have experienced in nearly two decades of Homeschooling In Real Life.

Homeschool Planning Made Simple

Homeschool planning for the summer and school year really can be simple when you have a plan in place. This podcast with Susie Doeren and Kim Lopez will save your homeschool sanity!I think I’ve tried every method of homeschool planning available and never found homeschool sanity until I developed my own forms. I call them The Easiest Homeschool Record System and I still think it’s great. However, it takes me quite a bit of time to customize the forms and put them in a binder for each of my five children that I’m still homeschooling.

So when I found the customizable planners from APlaninPlace.net, I was excited. I invited the owners to share how to make summer and school year planning simple with podcast listeners. You won’t be disappointed! You will learn:

  • the importance of planning for the summer months
  • where to start planning and when for the school year
  • the big mistake many homeschool moms make in planning (I’ve definitely made it!)
  • how much time to plan, and more

You’ll also learn about the unique features of the planners available at APlaninPlace.net. If you order a student addition through June 15, 2014, you can order the summer edition for half price. That’s just $5! I have a summer planner for each of my children and I can tell you, that’s a steal! I am not an affiliate with A Plan in Place; I’m just very enthusiastic about these planners that make life easy for homeschooling moms like me.

You can follow a Plan in Place on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

What other advice do you have for homeschool planning?

 

Play Podcast