I’ll admit right away that I’m a paper planner kind of girl. Give me post-it notes, a handwritten to-do list, and a spiral calendar book, and I’m in productivity heaven. So when I discovered Trello a few years ago, I wasn’t quite sure it would work for me. But after using it successfully with my teens to plan, organize, schedule and complete daily homeschool high school assignments, I’ve seen the light. My kids love it too.
What do you need in a high school planning system? Most likely, Trello has it.
Don’t miss the FREE Trello Cheatsheet at the end of this post!
First, what is Trello? It’s an online project management and list organization system. It’s also free! But will it work for homeschool?
Here are the seven characteristics that high school planning systems need and how Trello fits in. This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a good start.
Flexibility & Adaptability to Changing Schedules
Here’s where Trello shines above paper planners. You know how it feels to have to go back and cross out or erase dozens of well-laid plans because schedules change? Yes, it’s frustrating. And creates lots of eraser dust. However, because Trello is completely online, you can easily drag and drop to adapt your teens’ assignments to real life. Sick day on Tuesday? No problem, just rearrange the weekly schedule. Math took an extra day to complete? Easy to fix on Trello.
Oversight & Accountability
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my teens how to proceed through a subject independently, only to realize two months later that they haven’t done any work. It can make you feel like a homeschool mom failure. But with Trello, their tasks are in front of them daily and in order to complete the homeschool day, they need to actually check off that they’ve done the work. Sure, they could still try to get away with skipping assignments, but I can pull up the Trello board at any time and check on progress.
Since Trello is online, we can access it anywhere at anytime.
The beauty of the Trello system is that once the weekly board with assignments is complete, I can close out the board and move it to archives. It’s no longer cluttering my visual space, but if we ever need to verify that an assignment was done, we can re-access the boards. Since it’s all digital, I’m not relegated to saving old spiral paper planners for proof of homeschooling.
Not Labor Intensive
When I hear of moms taking multiple weeks in the summer to write lesson plans for the school year or spending the weekend prepping for Monday’s homeschool work, then I know they need to hear about Trello! Maybe you can relate. You love homeschooling, but the lesson planning is driving you crazy. Then you should try the minimalist approach to lesson planning.
I spend under an hour prepping our Trello boards for the year for four kids. Every Friday, it takes me less than 5 minutes to archive old boards and get new weekly boards ready for Monday. There is no good reason why you need to plan out lessons for each subject for day #83 when you haven’t even completed day #1 yet! If you’re tired of being overwhelmed by lesson planning, then Trello might be just what you need.
And if all this talk of “boards” is confusing you, then don’t fear – I have a FREE Trello cheatsheet for you to download at the end of this post!
Can Be Simple or Detailed
Trello will work for you if you love simplicity in your plans or if you want to be detailed. Here’s how that looks.
Simple lesson planning is what I use. That means, instead of specifying which lesson (chapter 10, lesson 4) of math that my 9th grader needs to complete on the second Monday of March, I use checklists on Trello that tell my kids to “just do the next lesson.” This way, we naturally progress through assignments without stressing about if we’re “on schedule” or not. This also takes the overwhelm out of lesson planning, because the only planning I really need to do in the summer is to choose curriculum. We just “do the next thing” in each subject each day.
However, some of you love your details. And that’s okay! Do what works for you. If you really do want to write this out for math on the second Monday of March, you can!
- Complete page 141, even # equations
- Check answers with answer key
- Record your score
- Study for math test
Project Management Capabilities
One last benefit to using Trello is that you can teach your teens how to manage deadlines and projects with multiple tasks. This is an amazing life skill, plus it’s a skill that sometimes falls through the cracks in homeschooling families.
Here’s how this would look on Trello.
Your teen might create a new board called “Research Paper.” Then, he would create categories on that Trello board titled Tasks, In Process, Completed (these are just suggestions!). Under the Tasks column, your teen would list out all the separate assignments or tasks that need done in order to write a research paper. Here’s what they might be:
- Brainstorm paper topics
- Schedule a library trip
- Check out 10 books on my topic
- Pre-read about topic
- Create an outline
- Take notes from sources
- Create Works Cited Page
- Write intro
- Write conclusion
- Write rough copy
- Proofread & edit
- Write final draft
Trello lets you put more detail on each card, even attaching Word documents or graphics! So, your teen could organize all his research on his Trello board and access it as needed. Trello also lets you create deadlines for tasks.
As your high schooler starts working on a task, he can move the card from the original column to In Process, and then finally to Completed. At any time, you and your teen can see his progress on a big goal (writing a research paper) through progress on smaller tasks. For my visual kids, this tool is priceless!
Trello just might make your high school scheduling easier. It might even be fun.
Here are a few resources to help you get started with Trello in your homeschool
- Read more about using Trello to organize your homeschool schedule and plan your homeschool year
- Sign up to access the Trello for High School Cheatsheet over at my blog 4onemore.com
Abby is a former public school teacher, now homeschooling her five children. She’s in the trenches just like you and knows it can be challenging to be home with your kids all day while you struggle to keep up with the housework and educate your kids (and maybe even work on the side!). She blogs over at www.4onemore.com and hosts the Homeschool with Moxie podcast.