I’m a planner, list maker and list checker. I crave order in everything do, even when I procrastinate!
With that said, the need to plan every lesson took over a big portion of my life when I began homeschooling. I spent an entire summer, planning every minute and every second of the coming school year, not knowing that it would all go to waste within just three days.
That first summer I tried several planning programs and apps, and the biggest problem I ran into was that none really “fit” our family. There were features I loved in some, features I figured I could live without in others, and not a lot of flexibility in most.
The biggest problem, however, was all the time it took to set-up, before I realized they just weren’t going to work for me, but by then I had invested hours learning a brand new system.
Today I’m sharing 5 digital lesson planning tools to help you get organized this coming school year
5 Digital Planning Tools for Your Homeschool
1. OLLY Homeschool Planner
One of the programs that I actually stuck with for two-whole-years was the Olly Homeschool Planner for Mac. Set-up did take a long time, but it was well worth it. I’m big on color coding all the things, and this planner allowed me to assign a color to each kid, each subject, and each day of the week. It made it super easy for me to figure out who was doing what, and when at a quick glance.
Another advantage, was their iPad app. Each of the kids had the app on their own devices and checked off their assignments there.
2. Homeschool Planet
This is the system I currently use, with my middle schoolers. I signed up for a free 30 day-trial of Homeschool Planet roughly 2 years ago and we’ve been using it ever since. It has all the features I loved in OLLY, but it took just a couple of hours to set-up. My favorite feature re-scheduling capability.
If you want to learn more about this program you can read my complete review here and if you’d like to claim your free trial, click on the image below.
Trello is my high schoolers preferred digital organization tool, and it’s probably mine as well. It works much like a post it note system and it’s super flexible. Since we homeschool year round, in six-week terms, I set up a board for each kid, containing lists for each week at the beginning of the term. I add a card for each subject for every list and I’m ready to go.
Since my high schoolers work well independently, I have them fill out each card as they complete a subject. I can always go back and compare where we are as far as completing the yearly goal goes. You can find out more about how I plan here, see a sample of my schedule here, and if you choose to go the paper route you can download a copy of my printable planner here.
Trello is shareable, and it updates in real time.
Pro Tip: You can use Trello for just about anything. I also use it to keep inventory of props, sets, and costumes for out theater department.
4. Google Drive
I’m a huge fan of cloud storage, and spreadsheets. Google Drive gives you both. I upload directions for research papers, essay assignments, and instructions for science labs here. Most of the assignments my girls will need to complete in the next few years, were uploaded when my now college age kids were in high school.
All I need to do is add an occasional link to a Google Drive file on their Trello board.
Evernote has been my number 1 companion since day one. It’s a great place to take notes, collect ideas as well as links to videos and websites that enhance your learning. I use it mostly over the summer and during school breaks, which is when I get all sorts of good ideas. Evernote allows you to store things in different notebooks, use tags, and it’s available as a mobile device app.
Planning tools are only useful if you use them.
There are lots of great digital planning an organizational tools out there. I’ve tried hundreds of them, however I always find myself coming back to these, because I’ve taken the time to familiarize myself with them by giving them a fair chance.
Just like homeschooling, the digital tools you choose, should fit you, your planning style, and your family.
Finally, remember that they will only be useful if they help you save time, save sanity and you actually use them.