Do you and your kids sometimes forget to attend online class sessions? Do your teens miss due dates for assignments?
We’ve been guilty of both. When my oldest was in 9th grade a few years ago, I decided that it was time to eradicate that problem.
Our computers had the solution. And since my kids are in an online school, that makes it all the sweeter to have an organizer on our PCs.
So I bet you’re wondering what wonderful program I found that fixed everything for us. (Well maybe not everything.)
There are actually two options for you to choose from. One is Google Calendar and the other is Microsoft Outlook. Both have nice desktop reminders for events.
Here’s the play-by-play on how to use these helpful programs.
Google has some top-notch tools for organizing. One of them is Google Calendar which will help you organize important events and due dates for your online school.
You use a Gmail account to get to Google Calendar. (It’s the easiest way) Sign up for an account here if you don’t have one.
Once you have it, sign into your account and click Calendar on the bar at the top of your screen. If you don’t see it, you’ll find it under the More tab. From there, follow Google’s simple steps to set up your primary calendar. Don’t put any school stuff in this one. We’re going to make a separate one for that.
Once this calendar is set up, you will want to create a school calendar so that everything school related is separate. I did that so that I could share the school calendar with my teens. Here’s how.
- Find the My calendars on the left side. Click the box with the triangle that is next to it.
- Click on Create new calendar.
- In the new window, name your calendar.
- You can add a description and location or change the time zone.
- You can share this calendar with anyone else like your spouse or teens. Just enter their email addresses under Share with specific people. Modify the permission settings to allow people to make changes in the calendar.
- Click on Create Calendar at the bottom.
Now that you have your calendar up and running, here’s how to set up reminders for the classes and assignments.
Before we get started, let me point out some items that will help you maneuver around your calendar. You’ll notice at the top of your calendar that there are tabs for Day, Week, Month, etc. You can click on these to change the calendar view. There are also arrows < > next to the date. You can use these to change the date. Finally, you can click on Today to go to today’s date.
- To add an event, click on the date in the calendar.
- Click on Edit event.
- Name your event at the top.
- Change the dates at the top if it is an event that takes place over several days.
- To set the time for the event, uncheck the All day box. Enter start and end times in the new boxes.
- For a repeating event like an online class session, check the Repeat box.
- In this dialogue box, enter how often and on what days you want the event to repeat. You can set an ending date. I usually set this to the last day of school so that I don’t get reminders all summer long.
- Click Done.
Now, back to the main Event page. Here are some final options that you can edit.
- You can put in info under Where and Description.
- You have the option to select the calendar for this event next to Calendar. I usually select my school calendar.
- Color-code events where it says Event Color.
Finally, and most importantly, set a reminder.
- Set the reminder to either email or pop-up. I like pop-ups personally because they get noticed more than emails.
- Change the minutes setting to indicate how many minutes before the appointment you want the reminder to show up.
- To have more than one reminder, just click Add a reminder.
Once you have finished setting everything, click Save at the top.
The most important thing to remember about using Google Calendar is that you need to have it open in a browser tab every day in order to receive the pop-ups. You can be working in other browsers or tabs, but the Calendar just needs to be open somewhere. So if you use this tool, try to make it a daily habit of opening up your Calendar first thing when you get online.
If you have Google Calendar set up on your smartphone, it will also alert you of events.
Here are instructions on how to use Outlook for MS Office 2003 on an XP computer. If you have MS Office 2010, here is a link to a help page for that program.
- Open up Outlook by going to Start > All Programs > Microsoft Office > Microsoft Outlook.
- Click on Calendar on the left side.
Across the top you’ll see some tabs for Today, Day, Work Week, Week, and Month. There are also mini calendars on the left side. Use all of these feature to maneuver around your calendar.
Here are the steps to add an event.
- Double click on a day on the Month or Week view. The Day view is another option.
- In the new window that opens, enter the event in the Subject line.
- Give the event a color under Label if desired.
- If the event takes place over several days, change the End Time.
- Uncheck the All day event box to enter a start and end time.
- For events that repeat, click on the Recurrence tab at the top. Make changes here as needed. Click on End by and to enter the last day of school.
- Click OK.
Now for that all important reminder.
- The Reminder box should be checked.
- Set the minutes.
- Select a sound for the reminder by clicking on the box with a picture of a speaker if you like.
- Click Save and Close at the top.
Now a little box will pop up on your computer and beep to remind you of an event.
You will need to open Outlook on your computer everyday in order to get the reminders.
If you think you’ll forget to open it, you can set it to open automatically on Start Up. Here are instructions on how to do that. We did this with my oldest daughter’s computer and she loves it. It slows down the computer’s Start Up a little, but it’s worth it.
P.S. If you don’t have Outlook on your own computer, you can buy Outlook here on Amazon for a great price.