Homeschooling - Organization and Apps

My wife and I have been researching the concept of homeschooling during the quarantine. We have talked to several families who have homeschooled, in addition to several youth who were homeschooled and now attend college. I want to prep myself…and what better way than a good old fashioned app recommendation!!

What apps would you recommend!! I am the power user in the family in terms of technology. So far, I thought about Omnifocus and Trello…any other suggestions?

1 Like

Are you interested in teaching technology to your kids, or are you interested in using technology to manage your home curriculum? Or both?


Looking to do both options.

1 Like

How old are the kids?

This recent thread in Automators has some ideas for time tracking.

1 Like

I’ve wanted to answer this definitively but it’s simply too broad a question! The answer depends on the age of your children, their personalities and needs, teaching styles of the parents, pedagogical method, how present you are able to be, etc.

Generally, when you’re starting out helping children organize, I think you should see how far you can get with simple task lists (either handwritten, printed out or in a text file) until you can discover your needs.

Kanban can work well for older elementary and up, but I don’t know if I’d necessarily use Trello first. They would probably really like to move sticky notes on a wall or whiteboard. Tactility provides benefits to children.

It’s also generally better to avoid burdening them with knowledge of their upcoming work in a central location. So either show them everything they have to do today at once, or show them their future work in a narrow context. For example, put today’s math assignment on the list for today, and if they want to work ahead in math, help them understand how the math book works and what you expect of their worksheets/answer sheets/math essays, so they can just go through the book on their own without being reminded of any other subject while doing that.

When the children are old enough that their coursework begins to be more syllabus-oriented, and/or they start taking external courses, they of course need to start burdening themselves with knowledge of the future. :slight_smile: I’d still recommend teaching them to lay out assignments in a paper calendar or maybe a digital calendar before showing them OmniFocus, because they should still be able to work sequentially/soonest due on assignments for the most part.

Just a few initial thoughts that assume some typical needs. It’s an interesting subject to me so I hope to hear more about your plans and challenges.

I just realized I may have not been clear in my post. :man_facepalming: :sweat_smile:

My children are in K-2 range.

My first step is mainly to help my wife and I manage the homeschooling. (Curriculums, Assignments, schedules, etc). Because both of us have opposite work schedules, we want to divide the homeschooling through the day (as an experiment - we also need to see if the kids like multiple breaks or if they want straight sessions)

I am trying to imagine what (app, doc, filesystem) would be central enough for us to pull up each child’s schedule, assignments, activity, etc for the entire school year. Would need assignment tracking, reports, etc.

Then after that, I would probably go old-school since they are in the K-2 range and do the sticky notes as you suggested (or color coding) on a whiteboard. Agreed tactility for children is a big benefit.

These past few months when we did distant learning, I would open my laptop for my children, sign them into their school account. Their teacher had everything setup in Google Classroom. Since we are doing home-schooling, I have the opportunity to reduce the screen-time again.

I was homeschooled most of the time until high school. We used the Calvert School curriculum. My mom and I would do all the entire year assignments in one big burst of about a month from basically dawn to dusk and then I was free to explore other things for most of the year. We both learned that we had to space out the mailing in of the items for review and grading or the grading folks didn’t believe I had done them. I have no memory of the formal schooling but lots of the things I learned after when I got to choose what I studied.When I was interested in Peru I learned about the clothing, designed a string based language for sending messages, raised, butchered and ate guinea pigs and more. I got to help map caves when I was interested in spelunking, worked with my mom on archeological digs, learned how to drink coffee boiled and sweet with mares milk when I was interested in Beduin tribes and helped collect native mint plants and prepare them for the Botanical Garden collection. I saw home schooling as a way to really focus on what was interesting.


Same here! Calvert until 8th grade. My parents graded the tests though, or had us do the grading for them to review. We also substituted a different math curriculum.

I don’t know if you’ve checked in on Calvert recently but it was bought out and has become a somewhat unpleasant and inflexible set of online courses.

My colleague Joanna Eitel at The Sweet Setup wrote a pretty great article on this not too long ago:

My wife (who does not identify as a “tech nerd”) actually likes Basecamp, and it’s free for personal use. I think that’s a pretty great place to start for collaborative stuff.

1 Like

As the new school year begins, both for my children and myself, I am doing some evaluations and looking for feedback. This year is the beginning our 2nd year of homeschooling and my last semester in my master’s program. Last year, we had some ups and downs in terms of scheduling. Because it was my first year, we tried different things. We were very structured for the first few months, then we attempted less structure (which meant more breaks but be done by lunch), then we tried a more scattered approach (multiple breaks during the day but finish schoolwork by 4pm/5pm) and we would try these variations every few months.

Things I learned

  • My children take advantage of less structure.
  • They get super-creative in their playtime, but in school work they get burnt out faster. (no one likes doing math in the middle of the afternoon).
  • If grandparents were visiting and I didn’t take that into account, everything went haywire
  • Physical actives are good things
  • Everyone has a good handwriting, but hate actual writing, would rather ‘tell you/present to you’ instead.

Experiment I want to try, but need some feedback

  • I really liked this article by Josh Ginter about time blocking.
  • I want to apply this to the homeschool and my own work, class, etc environment
  • How to share the time-block calendar properly?

Example: A parent posted what her Calendar looks like for her children who are homeschooled. For each child she creates their own color-coded calendar, and the tasks repeat each week.

All power to this person, but I can’t imagine seeing this on my calendar, I feel like that would overwhelm and make me collapse. LOL.

What would be the best way to do the following?

  • utilize time blocking
  • keep it in google calendar that can be shared with my wife

My wife and I currently have a shared calendar that consists of appointments, events, etc.

Should I create a calendar per child and have each calendar shared with us?
Should I just add everything home-school related to our current shared calendar?
Should I just create a 2nd shared calendar with my wife just for homeschool?

Objectives and Goals

  1. Mainly for me to create more of a blocked schedule for myself with clear areas to teach school, to do my own class, workout, attend to my parish, etc
  2. Have my wife see the whole thing so in the afternoons she can follow-up
  3. I am still limiting my kids to screens, so I don’t see a purpose for them to have access at their age. I am thinking of doing a kanban board for them where they can move their own post-its for chores and stuff.

Sorry for the long post, but this is what happens at 2am when the brain won’t sleep and your NAS sends you an alert to come check on it!

How old are your kids?

The ones who will pay attention to me….lol. 5 and 8

Why did you originally attempt less structure? Consider different approaches per child. We find some children enjoy making their own schedules in a manner similar to time blocking, others just want to get done as soon as possible, and the third type would rather as many breaks as possible and requires the most subterfuge from the parents.

If you’re going to time block everyone I suggest using paper or a prominent whiteboard/blackboard, and like some of the blocks in that image, keeping every child on the same start and stop times per period. Group similar subjects where possible to reduce the arbitrary feeling.

Originally attempted less structure, because I had to ‘un-school’ myself. I also wanted to gauge the different personalities of my children that I normally would never see during the school setting. Other reasons for less structure, we had some extended family medical issues, lots of dr visits, so I had to ‘roll’ with everything which was a life lesson for them as well. Example reaction was, ‘it’s activity time now’, no it’s not, we have a change in the schedule due to appointments. So activities will be later in the day.

Those are terrific ages! I am an experienced teacher and I have a MS in Early Childhood Education. Let me know if you need any help, guidance. You may want to consider Brownies or Boy Scouts for socialization.

I highly recommend the software Zoombinis. It is adorable. Kids and adults love it. It covers logic. It is far too hard for your 5 year old but just perfect for the eight year old. The little one can play along/ watch. Inexpensive too. I’d walk them through it, play with them, in the beginning until they get the hang of it. Very few games will cover that. (I cannot think of any.)