High Tech Homeschool: how we use Google Drive to schedule assignments at home

March 21 | Guest post by Alisha DeCou
Photo by Alisha DeCou.
I have 5 kids. My house is a wreck. All day, every day — but my digital life is pretty organized. My email contacts are complete and my saved emails are all in folders (well, mostly). My documents are all saved nicely in labeled folders and pictures by month. I have to admit, the Mac does do this for me, but my Dell was just as nicely kept. And what my iPhone automatically does for me, I was already doing with my Droid.

But you would NEVER believe my digital life is that together if you came to my house. I have piles of paper everywhere — even with a file cabinet and multiple file boxes. I have a good reason: I homeschool three kids and I'm a student myself — plus my sister lives with us.

Today, as I was "detailing" the house for the pest control to spray, I started thinking about our carbon footprint. As I threw away three trash bags full of papers that we no longer needed and filled two plastic crates full of ones we did, I made a commitment to myself to organize my family. I've been trying to do it my mother's way or Mark's way or my Grandpa's way, but I have never really dared to try it "My" way. How ironic, right? I titled my blog, "The Rockstar Mom Way" arrogantly, over four years ago, and yet, I hadn't really found "My" way yet.

But I am. Finding my way. One of my most important realizations in this adventure of parenting it is that we have to adapt and do what works for us.

What works for me is the internet. It's my thing. I take my classes online, pay all my bills, manage all our finances and now, thanks to Google Drive, run my kid's homeschool online.

I feel the need to defend my love for books here. I love my books. Due to our moves, my poor husband has carted them through three states now! So books will always be a part of our home school experience — physical, heavy, at times dusty books that look beautiful on a shelf and hold hours of your life in them. But aside from handwriting and math assignments, we have digitalized the rest. Assignments, quizzes, tests, projects and reports are all created, turned in and graded through Google Drive.

It took me about two hours to set up folders for each of the kids AND assign a week's work of lessons to each of them — in five subjects! It took even less time to show them how to use Google Drive — not only on their laptop, but also on their iPhones. Even my Kinder can turn in the assignment. She needs a little guidance getting to the assignment, but can type her sentences and "share" it with me and her father when she's done.

Tonight I began a grade book for each child and shared it with only that individual. All of the assignments come to my email, which comes to my phone (which has a Google Drive app) so I can grade anywhere: in the car, in bed, in line at the grocery store or during my husband's boring Alien conspiracy shows.

Mark and I use Google Drive for keeping track of bills and I know he's trying to write his songs in it, so he has them all in one place. I'm going to create a task list for the kids chore lists and started our grocery list on there too. The possibilities are endless!

So, I am forever a nerd. Granted, that's a high-tech homeschool with pizazz nerd… 'cause it works!

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  1. Awesome!

    I was going to ask about handwriting but I see now that you said you didn't digitalize handwriting or math assignments. (Thinking of math – have you seen Khan academy? I love it, I've been refreshing my math skills on it during downtime at work.)

    Since Google recently said they're getting rid of Reader, a lot of people have worried about them taking away their other services. Have you considered what alternatives you might use if Google Drive disappeared?

  2. I'll have to test out Google Drive, thank you for sharing! I homeschool only one and for the past four years have been using Homeschool Tracker. It's been a HUGE lifesaver for me! I'll never leave it, even if I find Google Drive to helpful in other ways, because it has all our son's high school everything in it and prints out a transcript effortlessly. I love most that it is basic but clearly user driven. So it's smart, I can make assignments for the entire year in about 5 minutes per subject. Then as we move along and I see his interests, I add or tweak here and there.

  3. Love this post, Alicia – and looking forward to learning more about your lifestyle on your blog. We have just one 3-year-old daughter right now, but we're considering homeschooling as an option and this was an inspiring insight into how it could be organized. My husband also writes songs and watches "conspiracy" movies 😉

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