For most of my adult life, I used the paper and pencil method to stay organized and it worked. I was an avid fan of those super huge wall calendars and I adored my Franklin Covey organizational binder. To this day, I am still trying to rid myself of a Post It Note dependency.
However, over the years I have come to see the value in using technology to help maintain an organized life. Though I no longer use that humble Palm Pilot, I do love my Android phone (iPhone? No thank you.) and I’m one of Google’s biggest fans. Why do I love Google so? Because it’s the only thing I’ve found that helps keep my homeschool responsibilities well organized.
I love the fact that I can access all my Google goodies from both my computer and from my phone. Today, I’m sharing the five Google applications I use most often and how they help me.
Google Calendar: Google calendar can be used to do lesson plans. To maintain lesson plans create a separate color coded calendar for each child, input lessons and activities, and print them out. Google calendar allows you to easily make changes to plans and offers a repeat option that makes it simple to add lessons. Best of all, the lesson plans can be accessed from my phone, so no matter where we are (at the library, waiting for a sibling to finish a private lesson, etc) my children can still be working on schoolwork because I have our lesson plans right at my fingertips. For an EXCELLENT tutorial on how to use Google calendar for lesson plans, check out this awesome tutorial from Practical Pages.
I also use Google calendar to keep track of homeschool activities. Since each type of activity (homeschool, personal, and blogging) has its own color, with a single glance I can immediately see when our homeschool activities are scheduled.
Google Tasks: Homeschoolers are notorious for checking out dozens of library books. I used to keep a handwritten list of all the books we needed to check out, but I’d forget to bring the list to the library. Trying to recreate the list on the spot caused me to waste valuable library time. Now I keep our book list in Google Tasks. The book list is always with me because I can access Google Tasks from my computer, online, or on my phone.
Google Now: Google Now is Android’s answer to Apple’s Siri. I used to think it was silly that people would walk around giving verbal instructions to their phones, but now I do it too. This has become the best way for me to take down short notes or create reminders. If I’m talking to the piano teacher at the end of a lesson and I need to reschedule a different time next week, when I get back to my van, I simply tell Google Now to create a reminder f0r me. At a later time, if I choose to do so, I can go back and adjust the lesson date in Google Calendar.
Google Hangouts: Google Hangout is one of my new favorite places online. It is a fantastic video and instant messaging platform with great opportunities for learning. Connect to a Google Hangout and find live discussions on a variety topics. During the discussion you can even submit questions that Hangout hosts can answer. I use Google Hangouts to find homeschool discussions to help me in my homeschool journey. My current favorite is the Homeschool Hangout sponsored by the iHomeschool Network.
YouTube: Most of us have been using YouTube in our homeschool for years, so we know it’s a great place to watch educational videos. But, did you know that YouTube can also be a great platform to use to showcase events happening within your own homeschool? Have your children completed an interesting project? Have you mastered a homeschool technique that would benefit other homeschool families? Create a video, upload it onto your YouTube channel, and share with the rest of the homeschool community.
Google is more than just a search engine! Homeschool families can use Google to organize lesson plans, create task lists, set reminders, enhance teaching, and watch and share videos. Is there another way to use Google in our home schools? If you know of one I’ve excluded, leave a comment and let me know what I’m missing!
© 2014, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.