Contently Humble

A Charlotte Mason Homeschool in a Digital World

7 Online Resources We Use for Homeschool Success

Homeschool success can be measured in many ways. Academics. Goal setting. Pursuing a life of truth, beauty and goodness. Regardless of the measure, the path to success is paved with preparation. I’m reminded of this every time I plunge into lesson plan mode and start pondering the new year on the horizon.

As I’m in the process of planning, be it a yearly-monthly-weekly plan, I have seven online resources I toss into my virtual tote bag. Without them I’d be lost as they help me stay organized, sane and frugal. I invite you to grab your own virtual tote bag and tag along as I share these resources which are vital to our homeschool success.

7 Online Resources We Use for Homeschool Success

 

Ambleside Online

One. Stop. Planning. Need I say more? I can still remember the first time I stumbled upon Ambleside Online. Once my mind stopped spinning with the enormity of the site I embraced its power. Charlotte Mason philosophy. Detailed printable schedules. Books in public domain. Art-composer-hymn-poet study and more with resource links. Delight! For us, it’s exactly what we need as a core curriculum. Personalize it for your needs and you have a valuable resource.

If Ambleside Online seems overwhelming to you like it did me then hang out at the Afterthoughts blog awhile.

While you are there, grab a cup of coffee and read:

 

Waterdrop Flower

 

Google Sheets

In an ideal world I’d have a paper planner, sparkle gel pens and cute sticky-notes bursting with color.  My colorful assortment would then be used with a super efficient organized filing system holding all of our preprinted school work for the school year.

Sigh. I don’t live in that world, I live in a world in which paper doesn’t want to be my friend.  It sees me approaching and runs in the opposite direction as fast as its little lined pages will allow. Notebooks, planners, legal pads all run into hiding at the very moment I seek them out. Even when they are assigned a location and given direct instructions to not move they laugh and jump into an alternate space-time continuum.

Since technology can’t seem to hide from me as easily as paper I use Google Sheets (an online spreadsheet) for all of our planning needs. I confess to being an obsessive planner. I have this crazy theory that the more you plan ahead, the easier your  homeschool day will flow. Crazy, huh?! For us, things just seem to work out better when I have all of our resources in one location. It takes time, but it’s worth it in the end. Using Google Sheets I enter what we will be doing each day along with website links. As we finish an item I merely check it off and we move on. One of the great aspects of Google Sheets is sharing the file with my Handsome Hubby who can see what we have completed during the day.

 

Google Sheet: Planner Screenshot Showing Part of Our Morning Time

Google Sheet: Planner Screenshot Showing Part of Our Morning Time

 

Not only can he see what we have completed as I check off items he can also read comments I include. This can lead to phone calls of congratulations to my daughter for completing difficult tasks or a bouquet of flowers to me for those (ahem) interesting days.

I know many folks prefer Evernote which is another great online tool. My mind seems to wrap itself better around Google Sheets as a planner, so I use Evernote as my file cabinet to collect resources.

 

Waterdrop Flower

 

Public Domain eBooks

Free ebooks. Ah, just the word free makes my heart sing in delight. Add the word book and you have a melodious sonnet. Sure I prefer paper books, but the shelves in my house are grateful to ebooks. They live in the virtual word and don’t require dusting. Anything that doesn’t require dusting is a bonus.  

Some of my favorite online options for finding public domain ebooks are:

Using ebooks has become a standard in our curriculum and for free reads.

 

Waterdrop Flower

 

Send to Kindle

Ok, you have all the ebooks your computer can handle. Now what? You can read them from the computer which we do at times, but if you have a Kindle device or app then life is about to become even sweeter. I use Send to Kindle to transfer free ebook PDFs from my computer to our Kindle.

My daughter reads aloud from the Kindle and I follow along on the computer. It’s like having two books in one and allows me to easily keep up as she reads from her McGuffey reader.

 

Waterdrop Flower

 

Google Keep

Remember when I said paper runs from me and we are not friends? This applies to handwritten notes also. Something about the chemical composition of paper must be against me. Anyway, to fight the battle of paper rejection I have turned to Google Keep.  I use it for short term notes to myself such a library books to pick up, a weekly grocery list and to-do list. Very few notes go here and they are deleted as soon as possible. If it’s something that would have been written on a piece of paper only to be tossed later then it goes into Google Keep.  Sometimes I just need to keep my short term memory and long term memory away from each other so they don’t argue about who has the most power. To keep them separated I merely toss my long term virtual memory into Evernote. Separating the two allows them to play nicely with each other. I like nice.

 

Waterdrop Flower

 

WorldCat

When I enter homeschool planning mode there are three tabs I always have open on my desktop: Ambleside Online, Google Sheets and WorldCat. We fully embraced WorldCat after a winter library adventure led us to discover libraries in nearby towns.  I use it as a source to find library books since it lists books that are available in our local library and surrounding areas.  Sure I could reserve an item locally on interlibrary loan, but why when the book is merely a quick drive away past a great doughnut shop. Besides, there are times in which you just have to have a book and waiting is not. an option!

 

Waterdrop Flower

 

Ultimate Guides from iHomeschool Network

There are days you crave inspiration. Moments in which you yearn for resources and ideas. For moments like this, I hop on over to Ultimate Guides with a cup of coffee and soak in the information. This one website could easily classify as a day of professional development. Hmm, a day at a local coffee shop perhaps?

 

Waterdrop Flower

 

What couldn’t you do without in your homeschool?

To see what others are saying click on over to the Things My Homeschool Couldn’t Do Without linkup.

Things My Homeschool Couldn't Do Without

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10 Replies

  1. I’m shocked because I’ve never heard of any of these! I will have to head to the coffee shop and check all of these out! I’m kinda excited lol! Thank you for sharing

    1. One of the things I love about homeschooling is how I get to learn new things every day-it’s so much fun! Enjoy your “coffee time” Diona!

  2. oh.my.gosh. where have these resources been all my life??? and what great timing for planning mode. Thank you for posting these! Just what I need right now :).

    1. How wonderful Janeen! Enjoy the planning journey.

  3. Thanks for sharing my planner on twitter … I have enjoyed browsing through your posts and am grabbing the Google Sheets app as I type this 🙂
    This is a great post! Great idea … I will have to think on my favorite resources.

    1. You are welcome Jessica. Oh, I love hearing about favorite resources. 🙂 Thanks for your kind words and have fun with the app!

  4. K. Hunter

    So excited to find this post! I love the idea of using google sheets, but how do you add the check marks as you complete the assignments?

    1. I’m so glad you’re excited, I love to plan. Also, great question! When I create a Google sheet I copy and paste a check mark from http://copypastecharacter.com/ into the top left hand corner of the sheet (so I can easily find it later). When I need to add a check mark to our schedule I just copy and paste from the one I added. I know there is probably an easier way, but this works for me. Happy scheduling!

  5. Ooh. Google Sheets. I’ll have to play around with this. I’ve never bothered much with record keeping , but now with a high schooler it’s time, and this might be the way to go. Thanks!

  6. Loved this post! We’ve been moving so much in a digital direction because YES – it’s harder for digital “papers” to hide! 😉 Favorite quote: “Sometimes I just need to keep my short term memory and long term memory away from each other so they don’t argue about who has the most power.” Hahahaha.

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