by Kerry Jones
If you homeschool and have more than one computer or device in your home, then you are about to thank me. Big time. Because today I'm going to share with you the secret of Google Drive
for organizing and streamlining many of your homeschool tasks. In my opinion, there has never been an easier, better designed, or affordable (free!) way to handle some of the heavy-lifting of homeschooling, including recordkeeping and lesson planning.
Homeschool Recordkeeping in the Cloud
One of the nicest features of Google Drive is that it is cloud-based. That means that whether you are on your laptop, tablet, or phone, you can get to what you need. In other words, you can be at the library, the coffee shop, or on your Blackberry, and "Presto!" - - instant homeschool access.
Here is how it works: you see, Google Drive is basically a free cloud-based Microsoft Office competitor. There is a word processor, a spreadsheet app, and a presentations application. I might share some creative uses for all of those in a future article, but for now we are going to focus on the spreadsheet application. Of course, to access any of these you will first need to sign up for a Google account if you don't already have one. (Are there people that still do not have Google accounts??!!) They are free, and relatively painless to register for. Here is the link
to get started. One Google registration is all you need to get signed up for ALL of Google's many services, including Google Docs, Gmail, Google Hangouts, Google Calendar, and Google Sites. If you have a Blogger account, you are already covered. It is also very helpful to sign each of your homeschooled children up with their own account.
If you have worked with Microsoft Office at all, Google Drive will be a breeze, because it has most of the same capabilities - - word processor, spreadsheet, and presentations. It will even upload and download in Office file extensions! For a full tutorial on how to use the Google Drive interface,this YouTube video
may be helpful.
Google Drive for Homeschool Lesson Planning
My favorite homeschool use of the program is as a lesson planner/calendar. I create a spreadsheet grid that I use to keep track of my sons' daily assignments. The great thing is that once I share the sheet with their Google accounts, they can access my spreadsheet from any computer, make changes to it, cross things off when they have completed them, etc.
The daily assignment sheet, in essence, becomes a collaborative effort. Even if you are unschooling, and aren't ummm...high-strung like me, Google spreadsheets are still a great way to track what your kids are accomplishing, and a place for you to provide resources and suggestions for what they are currently interested in. You and your