Troubleshooting: Homeschool Organization and Technology


Danica asked:

I d love to know what tools you use to help you do your organizing and planning (other than your brain). What computer programs/ calendars/ phone apps are useful or do you still rely heavily on old school pen and paper? Do you use something specifically developed for homeschoolers? Has what you ve used changed throughout the years?

I just have a basic phone so last year I did most of my planning on our PC. I ve liked Google Calendar for family scheduling, and I m looking into using Microsoft Office OneNote this year rather than my old Excel spreadsheets for more specific school/life planning/note taking etc. Have you had any experience with that particular program or could you suggest something better?


These are great questions, Danica. I am a girl who has to get things out of my brain and onto paper or they just don't happen. Even the grocery list needs to be made in a quiet moment and printed out or I will just be frustrated as the kids are interrupting/singing at the top of their lungs/arguing while I'm trying to think.

I am slowly getting up to technological organizational speed, which as you know accelerates each year. My husband keeps telling me to get all of my documents into clouds, and so like you I'm trying to make better use of Google docs, calendar, etc. Right now my Entourage program on my Mac is frustrating at best.

So, here's what I've changed. I don't keep my life organized in a binder anymore. I do keep my life on my iPhone.


My favorite apps for life management are:

Cozi (Free) We just started using Cozi, but it's become a great way for all of us with email addresses and/or phones to have a central calendar. Completely customizable, with to-do lists and shopping lists that can be shared. Calendar event reminders come directly to your email or text messages, or both if need be.

Motivated Moms ($10) Have you taken advantage of the paper/downloadable version of Motivated Moms? Me too! And it is like having someone tell me each day, "Don't forget to dust the fan! Don't forget to water the porch plants!" Now I have it on my phone and I can pull it out of my pocket any time. Especially helpful when a child is in need of something to do ;)

Cook's Illustrated (free) So my mother-in-law sends a little note from next door with one of my cute kids that says, "Could I have your recipe for tzatziki?" I pull my ever-present phone from my pocket, click on the Cook's Illustrated app, look up tzatziki, and email it to her. Total time? Maybe 15 seconds. Mmmhmmm. Also great when I need to figure out what to make or what ingredients I might need for a particular recipe.


Favorite websites and other online tools:

Cozi (free) Again, Cozi. And if you, like Danica, don't have an iPhone or other smart phone, you can still use Cozi to its fullest potential. You'll get reminders in your email or via text messages.

My Job Chart (Free) Also newish to us, My Job Chart is a chore list with a brain. Kids log in (they don't need an email address to do this), read their list for the day and check it off as they go. I get an email telling me they've completed their jobs. At the end of the day, I get a comprehensive update telling me which jobs were and were not completed.

One of the nifty things about My Job Chart is that it allows you to assign points per job. You can set the incentive to be anything you like. For instance, when my kids reach 3,000 points, they get to take a friend to lunch. There's also a way for kids to set aside points for tithing and other giving, and you can set the amounds for that, too. We're at a penny per point, and I have been super happy with how two of my kids tell me how many points they have to give away each day.


I'd love to see an organizational app for homeschoolers, but so far there isn't one. A little birdie told me that The Well-Planned Day planners might be available in an app soon. That would be nifty!

In the meantime, if there are any software designers out there interested in creating an app specifically designed for homeschoolers, I'd be happy to consult!