One of the great joys of graduating from school is the thought of never having to do homework again. Unfortunately, this joy is cruelly taken from you once you have kids of your own in school. Suddenly you have to think about homework again.
In the first week of my kids being back in school, I was amazed at the sheer volume of homework and information they were bringing home. Being kids, they didn’t think anything of it, of course. They just emptied their backpacks and left me to deal with it. But being the responsible adult I am (or at least hope I can one day be) I wanted to make sure we got it all done on time.
I quickly realized I was facing a difficult situation that pits a child’s inability to pound out multiple assignments in short order against my inability to keep track of everything that needs to be done over multiple days to accommodate my child’s pacing.
I needed a better solution than a stack of papers that were sure to get lost, buried by the next batch of papers from school, or completely forgotten.
So I did what I always do when I feel stressed: I turned to a trusted tool. This time it was Trello.
Using Trello to Organize Your Child’s Homework
If you’re not familiar with Trello, it’s a powerful list-based tool that makes it easy to organize, monitor, and prioritize just about anything. I’ve been using it for years for my own projects and professionally. Trello is free to get started, though it does have paid plans that open up really useful extra features called Power-ups.
Setting up your Trello Board
The first step to using Trello to help keep track of your kids’ homework is to create a Trello board for each child. Think of these boards as folders. I name each board after each child and select a background that matches their personality (this also helps me differentiate between the boards at a glance).
Now it’s time to add some structure to the board.
By default, a Trello board is empty. You get started by creating a list. You can make a list for whatever you want. Then you fill up the list with cards, which are for tasks or assignments, though cards can really be for anything you want to fit into a list. Each card can contain extra information, including a description, subtasks, due dates, category tags, and more.
Lists to Organize the Schoolwork
I create multiple lists to help me keep things organized:
- Current Week
- September (current month)
- Yearlong Projects
- School General
These lists provide a convenient structure, helping me easily see what needs to be done each day, this week, and what’s on the horizon. It’s also helpful to keep track of longer projects that can easily be forgotten, like science fair projects or leaf collections.
Adding Assignments and Tasks
Once you have your lists created, make cards within each list.
For instance, my 5th grader has a daily assignment to read for 30 minutes and to do her online math modules. I create a card for each. This is more of a reminder for me than a pure checklist item, though you can easily use Trello for that as well. With a Power-up you can create recurring tasks, allowing you to check off the cards each day as the assignment is completed.
Under the Current Week column, I add assignments that need to get done that week. I write a quick name for the card, add details within the card, and set a due date.
For assignments that have an associated hard-copy paper, I take a picture of the paper with my phone and attach it to the card via the Trello mobile app. Having a visual reminder of the task is super helpful.
Easily Keep Track of Other School-Related Information
Under the School General list, I add cards with helpful information like logins for programs my kids need.
In just a few minutes I am able to organize all my kids’ assignments. They aren’t impressed, but then again this isn’t for them. It’s for me and my sanity.
Add Subtasks to Break Things Up Into Manageable Pieces
My kindergartner has a few assignments designed to span a whole month. These bigger assignments have multiple subtasks, so I add the subtasks to the bigger card task in Asana. Now I can mark off each subtask as my daughter completes it and I have a nice visual indicator of the progress she’s made toward the larger assignment.
Quickly See What Needs to Get Done
With my lists in place, I am able to check the board each day and see what needs to be done. This helps me break up the work over multiple days while still making sure everything is completed. My kids like not feeling overwhelmed with so many assignments in one day.
The part my kids enjoy most? Checking off assignments when they are completed. It really is satisfying and one of the reasons I love to make lists.
Make It a Daily Habit
Best of all, this is an easy thing to keep on top of. Each day, I check my kids’ backpacks for new assignments. When I find one, I take a picture of it and upload it to a new card on the Trello board and set a due date.
When it’s time to do homework, I check the Trello board with my kids. For some reason, having a computer tell them what they need to do is much easier for them to handle than a real person. Go figure.
At the end of each week, I archive all the completed cards for the week. This removes the completed cards from the main board, but you can still view them later if you want to. If you have lots of assignments each week, you may find it helpful to create new lists for each week (ex: Week 37) and then you can easily archive the whole list at the end of the week.
If a task doesn’t get completed, you can easily drag it to another list, making task management a breeze.
Use Trello to Teach Your Student Organization Skills
Because my kids are in elementary school, managing the Trello board requires my oversight, but if you have children in middle school or high school, you can teach them how to use this system for themselves. This teaches responsibility, organization, and time management skills, all things that will come in handy as they later head off to college or start their careers.
Seriously, setting up Trello boards to manage my kids’ school work has made this the least stressful start of the year ever.
Setup Your Own Trello Boards
Ready to give it a try? You can quickly copy my Trello board into your own account and customize it from there for your own use.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Go to trello.com and sign up for a free account.
2. Once you’re signed up and logged in, visit my public Trello Homework Tracking Template board.
3. Click the Show Menu button in the top-right corner.
4. In the menu, click the … More option, then select Copy Board.
5. Follow the prompts to create a copy of the board in your account (once you copy it, the board is private to you).
6. Customize the board to the needs of your child.
It’s that easy! I hope you find the board helpful and would love to hear how it’s working out for you.
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