Managing Your Digital Homeschool Resources

We use lots of digital resources in our homeschool.  Come to think of it, I can’t imagine homeschooling without these digital lifesavers.  Since we’re going into our sixth year of homeschooling, you can bet we’ve accumulated a huge digital library throughout the years.  Our digital library is chockfull of worksheets for every subject –elementary and preschool–, e-books for the kids and for myself, all sorts of great curricula, and planning resources.  It’s a sight to be hold, that’s for sure!
Managing Digital Homeschool Resources

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Have you not yet fallen in love with all of the cyber goodness?  If you’re loyal to your trusty physical textbooks and whatnot, here are just a few reasons for you to consider adding digital resources to your homeschool library:

  1. You can often find digital materials for free or very low cost.  Best reason of all, right?
  2. They don’t junk up your house.  I can’t be the only one who doesn’t need more clutter!
  3. Two words: Kindle freebies.
  4. Digital resources are perfect for supplementing your lesson plans.
  5. They work with pretty much any homeschool scenario.
When you finally take the plunge, it can be challenging to keep all of these worksheets, e-books, and supplemental materials under control.  It’s not as bad as you might think, though.  Here are some tips for managing all of your digital homeschool goodness.

1.  Organize by Subject

I have two flash drives I work with at this point; one for preschool and one for elementary grades.  The files on each flash drive are organized by subject.  We’re eclectic homeschoolers and have shifted to non-graded curricula over the years; organizing digital files by subject makes life much easier.
Tips for Managing Digital Homeschool Resources

 Once upon a time, I filed my resources by grade level.  This worked out for a year or two, but became a mess before my very eyes.  For example, if we didn’t have time to cover a specific science topic one year, it became difficult to remember what resources were on hand when planning to cover it in following years.  It’s hard to remember each science resource you’ve saved for second grade once you’re homeschooling a fourth grader.  I missed items I looked forward to using because of my files being arranged by grade level.  Organizing by subject helps avoid that kind of frustration.

2.  Narrow Down Topics within Subject Folder

Once you’ve made folders for each subject, create subfolders within each folder.  For example, my math folder contains several subfolders that allow me to quickly find exactly what I need.  If I’m looking for a specific resource to help us cover fractions, I can easily find it by opening my fractions folder.
Tips for Managing Digital Homeschool Resources

 

3.  Keep a To Be Printed File

Chances are if you’re stocking up on digital resources, you’ll need a printing system that works well for you.  I have a To Be Printed file on each of my flash drives and in my laptop’s My Documents folder.  That way, I can easily copy and paste items for the upcoming week into one location.  I don’t search a folder and print a few items and then search another folder and print from there.  By having a To Be Printed file, I can quickly access everything I need to print throughout the homeschool week.

I can sometimes print all at once for the week, but sometimes it’s better to wait and print day by day.  Some of my items are merely on standby.  I don’t want to waste precious paper and ink by printing those items and end up not using them.  That’s where this To Be Printed file shines the most.   When I’m done with my planning and printing for the timeframe, I delete those copied files and have an empty folder waiting for the next round of printing.

 

4.  Send to Kindle

I organize my e-books the same as I do my curricula and supplemental resources.  I have a folder titled “homeschool books,” that contains any e-versions of our curricula and actual e-books.  Most of the subfolders contain items for the kids, but I even have a “mom stuff” folder for books on homeschool encouragement, administrative helps, and teaching tips.

When it comes time to access all of these books, I use the Send to Kindle option.  This makes it possible to use your Kindle or preferred device to read all of these e-books and other documents.  This is such a lifesaver for using e-books in your homeschool!  Once it’s installed, you can simply right click on your e-books and files and select the Send to Kindle option.  It’s that simple and it makes using digital resources a piece of cake!

Tips for Managing Digital Homeschool Resources
5.  Backup Your Resources

This one goes without saying, but a reminder never hurts.  The last thing you’d want is to have this beautiful stockpile of homeschool resources and then lose them all because of some computer-related snafu.  Whether your original storage location is a flash drive or the My Documents folder of your computer, be sure to back up your resources on a regular basis.  I recommend adding a backup reminder to your homeschool planner every few months.

There’s no shortage of online backup options out there.  DropBox, and OneDrive, are just a couple worth considering.  While my files are stored on flash drives, I use my Windows OneDrive for backup purposes.

6.  Don’t Procrastinate

Don’t let your digital resources linger in your Downloads file.  Like any kind of filing, it can be tempting to put it off, but the best thing to do is move your resources to the correct folders immediately after downloading.  That way, no questions asked, your resources are ready and waiting when you need them.  By delaying, you risk forgetting what you’ve downloaded and making it difficult to find your resources when you need them.

Also remember to rename your files when necessary.  If changing a file name helps you easily identify it when you need it, then go for it.  There’s no reason to keep the original name if it’s not helpful to you.

7.  Hunting Tips

Wondering where to find all of these digital resources for your homeschool?  Here are a few of my favorite places for digital resources:

    • CurrClick – Online classes and clubs, curriculum, lapbooks, and tons of supplemental resources are all available through CurrClick.   I’m usually searching for specific topic on CurrClick; I do a quick search and see what’s available.  When I find a good match, I purchase it, download it, and add it to our lesson plans.  Easy Peasy.
    • Pinterest – Pinterest is also a great place to find digital resources for your homeschool.  Just be sure to go in with a plan and be ready to research.  Otherwise you’ll be distracted by fabulous recipes and decorating ideas while you’re on mission.   (I’m always pinning great homeschool resources; be sure to stop by and see all of the homeschool goodness I’ve pinned.  You can follow me at pinterest.com/ebcopeland.)

It’s taken time to find what works best for keeping my digital homeschool resources under control, but these tips have worked well for me and I hope they’ll be helpful to you too.  What are your favorite tips for managing your digital resources?

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