Thanks to modern technology there are more ways to communicate with your group than ever before. While homeschool calendars—printed on fake parchment paper, filled with terrible clipart, too many fonts, and snail-mailed out to each mom—were a useful tool for our predecessors, there are far more efficient (and attractive) options available today. So, we thought we’d take a look at just a couple of the FREE options we’ve enjoyed using the most here at Teach Them Diligently in order to offer you some ideas.
We all use it already, so making use of Facebook is an obvious option. Creating a Group for your homeschool co-op is a great way to get everyone on the same page, to create some community, and to offer a place for asking questions, giving answers, and sharing pics from your most recent Fine Arts evening. Facebook gives you a lot of options when it comes to privacy settings. You can make your group a closed group if you’d like to avoid prying eyes. You can also create calendar events, take polls, and send messages to individuals… But you already knew all that ☺
Imagine an infinite wall space for all of your sticky notes. Then imagine that you can organize and share them with all of your team, and easily search them to find what you’re looking for. You’ve just imagined Trello. This is a great little free platform where you can post plans, involve and get feedback from others, assign tasks, create checklists, and set due dates all in an easy-to-use environment. It’s simple to setup and there’s nothing more satisfying than dragging all of those cards to the “Complete” list when you’re done!
Not just for hipster indie startups anymore. Slack is a wide-open communication machine. Create categories for your group (i.e. field trips, monthly meetings, weekly coop calendar, statement of faith, etc.) then allow everyone—or only specific groups—to access and communicate on the topic. They can tag each other when posting to grab others attention. Upload photos, or documents, and link to other locations. Archive it all so that you can go back and reference it later. Remember AOL Instant Messenger? Yeah, it’s sorta like that, but waaaaaay better.
If you are looking for ways to schedule different emails going out to your group MailChimp offers a robust, and user-friendly experience. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers, and it allows you to easily import your homeschool email list. Then you can create email newsletters and blasts using their super fun templates and send them whenever you’d like. You can also associate social media blasts to have them go out at the same time, and of course check and see what percentage of your group is actually opening their emails ;)
If you are looking for a simple solution that doesn’t require logins and learning new platforms, check out Boomerang. It’s a plug-in for your gmail account that allows you to schedule when you want to send an email. Type it up just like normal, but instead of clicking “send” click “schedule” and decide when you want it to go out!
If you were home teached like me then grammar is still one of your arch nemesia (and you’re supposed to be teaching your kids how to do this stuff!). One more plugin that I’ve personally found helpful is called Grammarly. It works the same way as spell-check, but takes it to a whole new level. Every time that you accidentally type “your” instead of “you’re” it’s actually smart enough to let you know (because it checks for usage not just spelling). Plus, it will inform you that the plural of nemesis is actually “nemeses”;)
Hopefully, you’ll find some of these tools useful as you help organize, lead, and direct your homeschool group. For more great resources for your homeschooling be sure to subscribe to our blog, engaging with us in our Leaders-Only Facebook Group where we can share ideas and struggles year-round, and consider joining us at one of our 6 Homeschool Conventions this year. We also offer a leadership share program that allows you to share TTD with your group while earning commissions. For more details on that, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, at each event we’ll also be hosting a very special Leadership Summit focused directly on you, the Homeschool Group Leader. Don’t miss out! You can learn more here!