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!

Your Homeschooled Teen Has ADD? Help is Here

Help for Homeschooled Teens with A.D.D.: The Homeschool Sanity Show

A homeschooling mom on Facebook.com/motivatedhomeschooler asked for advice for her homeschooled teen and I thought other parents might have the same question. If you or your homeschooled teen is forgetful, distracted, or disorganized, listen to this episode of The Homeschool Sanity Show.

Teaching Tip of the Week

This week’s teaching tip is to make room for Christmas activities in your homeschool. Use my funny winter writing prompts for writing. Above all, allow Christmas to be a peaceful, joyful time in your homeschool, rather than a stressful one.

Organized Homeschool Challenge of the Week

The Curriculum Review Challlenge

How to Help Your Homeschooled Teen with A.D.D. Links

Christmas Break

The Homeschool Sanity Show will be on Christmas break until 12/29/15 when I’ll share how 2016 can be your most organized homeschool year ever.

Have a happy homeschool week!