Homeschool Organization Hacks
Frustrated with all of the systems and passcodes, platforms and links for remote school?
Here’s how to get your homeschool system under control.
In our second Happy HOME Room post in the series, we continued with efforts to create order and predictability for the kids through creating a schedule, engaged the kids about a school environment/classroom, we evaluated a little bit more about some sources for our anxiety, and embarked on the second step of a do-able 4-step/4-day set up for a Happy HOME room.
Yep, you guessed it…
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Because Happy Students are Good Students. And when your kids are good, you are good. And when you are good, the family is good.
As a quick recap, STEP # 1 – Set A Space & STEP #2 – Set A Schedule.
The first objective was to set up a consistent functional space that supports the needs of the students in a way that promotes learning, provides a positive and engaging environment, is physically comfortable and has minimal distractions.
The second objective was to set a schedule to provide predictability and security. To do so we addressed setting up a structured schedule along with daily routines to set a regular rhythm.
Today we will focus on all the crazy moving parts that are likely to snag even the best of students and parents, and that is by creating a system for all the platforms you might be dealing with. It could be a lot to take in, so I will attempt to be as clear and brief as possible.
Let’s get to it.
Today, our focus is the Third Step.
Set up a Homeschool System
What do you mean by system?
Like any other system, you and the kids are going to be dealing with a lot of moving parts and we are going to attempt to contain them under one big umbrella, in a more simple and categorized fashion. Basically it will be like a filing system.
With remote learning, we are going to be addressing the issue of platforms, links, projects and homework, passwords, emails, and communication.
Now I understand that this remote learning environment has a TON of variables from stat to state, school to school, teacher to teacher and even student to student. Obviously I can’t address every variable, so I will try to address the biggest hurdles you might face, and try to provide some solutions.
1. Platforms, Passwords and Links.
I have spoken with several moms and teachers. It’s amazing how well people have done coping and creating solutions. Yet there are still some parts that create a struggle for the students and the parents. One of those issues is utilizing the different platforms used by different schools and sometimes even different teachers in each school.
Platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Schoology and Clever are fantastic ways for kids and classrooms to connect remotely, but unfortunately, they all have different systems for logging in as well as passwords.
Managing all of the login processes, user IDs and passwords can be a stressful snag unless you control it right away.
There are a few good ways to do this. You will have to determine which is best for you and your kids.
You (or they) can create an easy to use a spreadsheet for each class. It should contain the teacher name and subject, login information, passwords and a hyperlink to get you directly to the classroom. Color code each class for ease of finding things at a glance.
This spreadsheet can also contain contact info for the teacher and links to other important info that you or the student may want to resource.
Saving this to the toolbar or on the desktop will make access easy.
Microsoft office is an example of an easy way to populate class links. Once you have entered the information once, you can schedule it to repopulate the recurrences.
So for instance, if your 7th grader has history Mondays and Wednesdays at 10am, you can put in the time and login info there along with a reminder push notification. When the reminder appears, it will provide ease of access. And of course, they can log in directly into the calendar.
To store different login information, and specifically passcodes, you can use online tools such as Lastpass or keep a planner/journal beside the computer. It will depend on what you feel most comfortable with and also what is the most user friendly for you and the student.
TIP: Back up is not a bad idea. Writing things down in a notebook will work. Just prepare for the event of a lost file or computer crash. It will save you time later.
PEN AND PAPER
The good old fashioned pen and paper is also great. If you created a planner, put the info all in one place so it is easy to resource at a glance.
TIP: The trick here is to keep everything together in one location for ease of use.
TIP: Bookmarks or saving favorites on the computer are also helpful.
I have heard that many of the teachers are fielding questions via email. My hat’s off to them if they can keep up with the number of questions flooding in from kids and parents. My guess here would be that it’s mostly from parents, as email isn’t as used by the upcoming generations.
In my experience, it is common that the kids and parents in different households share the same questions. So the teacher is then sending out several emails or large blanket emails. Not that efficient.
So just to get your thoughts going here. Get together with other moms in the same class (or encourage older kids to do the same for themselves) and create an online group like Slack. Pose questions to one another there, and have divide responsibilities or subjects. For instance have a math and science mom, an English mom, a social studies mom, an administrative mom etc. Pose questions to that “subject head” and let that person send emails to the teacher to source the answers. Then have the answer posted in the group. This would make it much easier for the teacher as well as for you or the student who is searching for an answer to a question.
If online groups is not a solution and you choose to use email, be clear in your subject line re the subject and specific topic so you can reference later.
In the body, it is helpful to bullet questions or address them by subject. The more specific and concise the faster and more clear the response should be.
Keep email addresses in a spreadsheet and also in your contacts list for ease of access.
3. Homework and Projects
For many kids, they are used to seeing homework and notices posted on a whiteboard. They are there as reference and reminders. Finding a way to repeat this posting concept is a helpful tool so kids can get their work done and turned in on time.
If you have the space, create your own whiteboard with reminders and to record assignments and due dates. Keep it simple, and similar to how the teachers do it. Encourage kids to do it themselves when age-appropriate. Recording it by writing it down helps them tag it to memory. There are also digital whiteboards if you prefer.
Trello is a great tool to help track tasks and projects and keep track of when homework is due. I recommend this for students who are a little older or if you are planning to help manage the younger kids.
Again, if you are more of the pen to paper type, this works great. I found that color codes are helpful for at a glance searching.
What you/the family needs.
When you are systemizing connectivity and communications, you need order and simplicity.
Categorizing and condensing information into easy to locate places reduces stress for you immensely. The same goes for the kids.
Remember this won’t be perfect, but this will create some structure to follow.
Anxious that the kids can’t manage all the logins and you have to be there at all times?
Make it easy for them.
Again, your kids can manage more than you might think. And what’s more, if they think that you have confidence in them to do it, they will believe the same. By the way, the opposite of that is true too, so helicopter momming is crippling to the kids. Just saying.
The work and the stress of gathering it all together and organizing it now (before the school year gets busier) will provide smoother sailing for everyone later.
STEP 3 is a winner for you and the kids.
The kids will be equipped and empowered and you will be freed from the anxiety that you have to be there to manage all the time. You will also be free from feeling like you are pulled in different directions all day putting out fires. Operating like that can be depleting.
Don’t let these days rob the best of you.
TIP 1: If these systems and ideas are new to you and the idea of using another platform or piece of technology is adding fuel to the fire of your overwhelm, take it simple first with pen to paper and post it. Then, one step at a time, familiarize yourself with the most important piece that would be the solution for your biggest stressor.
ACTION ITEM: Create a system for storing information for platforms and communications for each of your students right away. Get the involvement of the older kids. This will help them learn a Life Skill in creating systems, which is huge. Systems are everywhere in life, and teaching their minds to think in a systematic way helps clear cluttered minds, and eliminate stress and overwhelm. You can also teach the younger kids how to use the systems once they are set up. I think you will be impressed by how well they do!
All of this adds up to happy! Happy student and happy HOME room.
You don’t want to miss this!