Homeschooling involves a lot of moving parts. Keeping track of them all can sometimes feel like a full-time job.
Last year — my first year of homeschooling — I spent a lot of time and money trying to find the “perfect” homeschooling planner. I bought a few. They didn’t work. I found some free calendar printables and tried to make my own. That didn’t work either.
This year — my second year of homeschooling — I decided to stop wasting time and money chasing after something that probably didn’t exist (a planner that would magically make homeschooling easy!). Instead, I decided to stick with what I know works for my family: Google Calendar.
I’ve written before about how my husband and I use Google calendar to keep our lives a bit more organized and coordinated.
Since we both work from home and share responsibility for homeschooling our children, there is a lot of “coordinating” to be done.
We’re already sharing our personal, work and family calendars, but this year, we added in calendars for each child’s homeschool work as well.
Every homeschooling family needs to find the right system for them — and some of you will probably rock those paper planners. But for those of you, like me, who prefer online tools to keep things simple, here are the reasons I love using Google Calendar as our homeschool planner.
- It’s easy to repeat events — Four days a week, I teach Language Arts in the afternoon to my 2nd grader. Instead of having to manually enter this into a planner every.single.day, with Google calendar I just created a block of time, labeled it Language Arts, and then set that block to repeat, Monday thru Thursday, until the end of the school year.
- It’s easy to lesson plan — Once I have that block of time set to repeat, I can go in and type out the specific lessons I plan to teach that day. I do this by clicking on the Language Arts block (for example) on a particular day, clicking “Edit Event”, and then entering my notes under the “Description” block. When I save these notes, I make sure to just select “Only This Event”. If I need to use an online resource to teach a particular lesson, I just cut & paste the URL into the Description block. When I create and/or find worksheets that I’ll be using to review concepts, I attach them to the right day using the “Add Attachment” feature (right below the Description box).
- It’s easy to customize — I’ve set up separate calendars for each student, plus a third calendar for the subjects /events that are shared by both of them. (I call this our school-wide calendar, which is kind of funny since there are only two students in our “school”.) I love that I can quickly see who’s doing what, when just thanks to Google’s color coding
- It’s easy to make changes — One of the reasons paper planners didn’t work for me was that I was forever having to amend my plan. One day we’d be cruising along and cover more lessons than I had planned, then the next day we’d get stuck on a concept and barely cross of half my list. By Friday, I was completely off-schedule! It’s so much easier to cut & paste on a computer than it is to erase and rewrite on a paper calendar. And, if I need to reschedule certain subjects (say, if someone’s sick or a field trip gets scheduled), it’s so easy to just click and drag the lessons to another time or day.
- It’s easy to share — My husband teaches math to our 5th grader, I teach language arts, Hebrew and history to both of our boys, and our wonderful tutor (who comes in the mornings) handles science, geography and 2nd grade math. While I don’t ever feel the need to “check up” on what the other teachers are doing – I totally trust them! – it’s nice that our boys’ schedules can so easily be shared. (Here’s how to share a Google calendar with other people.)
- It’s easy to print — My fifth grader has a number of independent assignments, which he must complete daily. To help him keep on track, I can print out his calendar and he can cross thru the items once he’s completed them. If we wanted him to do this online, we could easily share his calendar with him as well. (Next year, in fact, I think I’m going to move him to doing this online. I’ve been a bit hesitant to give him access to an email account this year, though, since he’s only 10.)
- It’s easy to access from anywhere — If we decide to pick up and move to the library (or Starbucks!) for our day’s lessons, all I need is my phone (which has the Google calendar app on it) and I’m ready to teach. I love the convenience of having our plan with us wherever we go.
I’d love to hear from other homeschooling moms and dads. How do you plan out your day? How have you used technology to improve and simplify your homeschooling.