homeschool, organization, organizing, planning

What All Home Educators Need: Remote Digital Backups (guest post)

Using an electronic device such as a laptop, tablet, even a smartphone to help store lesson plans as well as archive other important school-related documents like graded assignments and projects is definitely the more green approach. More importantly, it’s also great for organizational purposes— you can create digital folders with appropriate titles and dates for easy retrieval. But as you’ve probably already learned, technology isn’t always “reliable.”
Sometimes computers crash and files on your hard drive are lost. Sometimes your USB flash drive won’t work and you can’t access your important documents (which can pretty inconvenient if you’re trying to give a lesson away from home).Sometimes your tablet can run out of power at the worst time. Sometimes your email is temporarily shut down. Whatever the case, it’s important that you backup everything on to a remote cloud device so that you have access to everything you need from any device at any time.
That said, below are some of the more popular remote storage -cloud devices to choose from. And the best part? They’re all free! 
Wanting remote access to important documents without having to constantly email themselves or save their files on a flash drive, two MIT graduates created DropBox in 2007. Today, more than 100 million people around the world uses the free service to store college papers, photos, and other documents they don’t want to get lost.  Windows, Mac, Linux, and Mobile users start off with 2GB of free storage but can potentially earn up to 18GB of free storage by completing various tasks, such as inviting your friends to become members. 
Google Drive
If you already have a Gmail account, then using GoogleDriveto store documents and share texts and spreadsheets with your student is probably the easiest way to go since everything is already built in.  You’ll also have access to Google Docs. Google Docs can be used as a “tracker”—you can create lists and keep track of daily lesson plans, assignments completed or volunteer hours. You can also collaborate with more than one person on documents at the same time since you can see live edits.  Users get 5GB of free storage and must pay a subscription for more. 
Microsoft SkyDrive
Last but certainly not least is SkyDrive. SkyDrive works relatively the same as the other devices since you can store and share documents, but there is one nifty exception:  Windows 8, Windows 7, or Vista, and Mac OS X Lion computer users can automatically sync their files. This way, you automatically create a backup without having to think twice about it.  SkyDrive offers its users 7GB of free storage.
Aniya Wells is a freelance education and tech writer. She mostly contributes to, a site that specializes in alternative online learning. She welcomes your questions and comments.  


Four Tips for Your College-Bound Homeschooled Kid

Having been homeschooled from the second grade through high school, I know personally what a wonderful experience it can be to be taught by one’s parents in a warm, loving, and supportive environment. Many homeschool parents may be nervous about their children’s ability to thrive in a college environment away from home, but, as a CBS article indicates, homeschooled children tend to perform even better than their non-homeschooled counterparts. Still, making the transition to a radically different learning environment is no easy task. Here are a few things to consider as your children prepare to apply to college.
1.      Thoroughly research schools that most fit your child’s interests, beliefs, and personality.
One of the biggest mistakes that parents and college-bound kids make when looking for schools is that they consider only brand names like Harvard, Stanford, or well-reputed state schools. This search method completely neglects to take into consideration various other factors that contribute to a successful collegiate experience such as geographic location, particular academic strengths, availability of certain extra-curricular activities, as well as religious beliefs. Decide which of these factors are most important to you and your child and make a list of five to seven schools.
2.      Call or email each school on the list and determine what their application guidelines are for homeschooled children.
Different schools have different requirements for homeschooled children. You can be sure that they will ask for standardized test scores, a personal statement, and more than likely a few letters of recommendation. Some schools require that homeschooled applicants take the GED in lieu of a high school diploma. Be sure to keep track of each school’s requirements.
3.      Ensure that your child will be able to secure letters of recommendation from adult mentors well before the application deadline.
Most students who attended a traditional high school can easily secure letters of recommendation from teachers. For homeschooled students, however, finding recommenders can be a bit more complicated. The best recommendation letter sources for homeschooled students are adults who can comment on the student’s talents, abilities, and values. These include pastors, coaches, or other extra-curricular instructors like music teachers. Make sure to request these letters well before the application deadline.
4.      Spend considerable time studying for standardized tests.
For most universities, there is no magic formula that will get your child into the college of his or her choice. Admissions committees look at a bunch of different qualities that are revealed in the personal essay, recommendation letters, and more. Still, for homeschooled students, it is especially important to do well on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, since admissions committees have no recognized standard of academic performance by which to judge your homeschooled child. Spend several months studying for these tests, and remember that these tests don’t necessarily test intelligence; they test how well your student can take a standard test. As such, practice is the key to a good score.
Getting into college is really the biggest hurdle in the entire collegiate experience. Once your child is accepted by several schools, try to visit each to determine which school fosters an environment where your child will thrive. Good luck!

Author Bio:
This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, students, teachers, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @

Q4U: Have something homeschool and/or organization related to share with my readers? Wanna be a guest blogger? Let me know; I’ve got some open spots in the next few months!