Google Products for your Home and Household
Let’s face it, when you have a child with special needs, Moms and Dads become case workers. I’ve never seen one person, let alone a child, generate so much paperwork. Then you add in annual IEP dates, annual and biennial medical appointments, biannual evaluation dates, MA renewal, Rx renewals….it’s exhausting and overwhelming at times. But, if you stay organized, it can be manageable. Enter Google. There are many Google products that can help you manage your child with special needs and your special needs lifestyle.
We all know what Google is and most of us use it often. Most people know that Google owns YouTube and Gmail. But there are lots of Google products you may not know about, and many of them are extremely useful in managing life. It also reduces the amount of paper you have. Initially, you’ll invest several hours in getting it all set up, but once you get it going, you’re set.
Benefits of using free Google products
- First, what I like about all of these products is that most of them are free.
- You can purchase upgrades for memory and storage if you don’t have enough.
- They are hosted on Google, so you can access them from anywhere–so both parents can access at home and at work, as can other relatives.
- You can control who has permission to what.
- And, at risk of using the term “too big to fail” because we all know how well that goes sometimes….they are Google, the biggest, so I think they’ll be around for a while. Always use a backup program though!
1. Organizing dates and appointments with Google Calendar
This is a program I love because it has so many options and formats. Like all the other products, you will control who sees what. You can put everything on this calendar. Want to remind yourself ahead of time of evaluations, appointments that need to be made, even thinking about transition…you can put it all on here. You can even document things after the fact. Many websites are now offering apps that sync with Google Calendar too.
Google Drive and Blogger-Depending on what your specific needs are, I’d recommend either Google Drive (used to be known as Google Docs) or Blogger. Even if you have no intention of having a public blog, you can set it to private and use it as an online diary or record of events. Google Drive is basically the Google version of Microsoft Office, but online. You can create word documents, spreadsheets, presentations or upload documents. You can create as many different file folders as you need. Consider getting a hand or desk scanner and scanning in important documents and storing them online. But with Google Drive, you can organize and keep everything in one spot. No more “where is that list of parent concerns I sent last time?” and stuff like that.
3. Google Scholar
It always boggles my mind when I see parents trying things on their kids that is not proven to work. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have money to throw away like that. And let’s face it, when it comes to our kids and “cures” there is a TON OF CRAP on the internet. Use Google Scholar. Google Scholar is their search engine for scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and scholarly fields. Today, the index includes virtually all peer-reviewed journals available online. It includes science, law, and medicine. So in other words, when you are searching for something pertaining to your child on Google Scholar, the articles returned to you will be actual peer-reviewed journals or published studies–not internet nonsense fluff pieces like Natural News or NVIC.
4. G+ or Google Plus
G+ is Google’s answer to Facebook, it’s their social networking site. If you’re happy with your socializing on Facebook that’s fine. G+ has many other uses. For instance, they have “hangouts” which are video chats. So you and members of your child’s team, or relatives, or whoever…you can set up G+ hangouts and chat live and see each other. Also, many times when you are reading an article online, you’ll notice that you have the option to click a little button that says “+1.” This is similar to “liking” it on Facebook and will throw it into your G+ feed. Even if you don’t have any followers or friends on G+, this may be useful for bookmarking articles you like. Google has recently announced that G+ will be phased out over the next 10 months. By mid-2019 it will no longer be available.
5. Google Alerts
I love Google alerts and I have mine set up to throw all mine into my “news” folder on my email. For Google alerts, you pinpoint keywords and phrases that you want to track. One that I have set up is “special education funding.” Once a day, Google combs the web for articles with that key phrase and emails me the links. There’s so much noise out there these days on the internet, and so many interesting articles I want to read, Google Alerts means I don’t miss them and can go back and read them when I have time.
6. Google Maps
So many people underestimate Google Maps. Or, don’t use it to its full capacity. Sure, you can get directions to go places. But, you can also create maps that you can share via social media or by texting to someone. For example, last week my family went to a fundraiser in south Jersey. We had multiple things we wanted to do there. I plotted them all out on Google Maps, labeled it “south Jersey” and sent it to everyone who was going via text. Made our day super easy because we had it all at our fingertips all day.
7. Google For Education
I just couldn’t stop the list without mentioning Google for Education.
Tips for to better Google searches
I’ll wrap this up with just a few quick tips on how to streamline your googling so that you get better results. So, in your Google search bar, if you put:
- filetype: (then put either doc, ppt, pdf, jpg) you will only get results in that format
- site: list site name to search just that site
- site: .org will just return .orgs in your results; use it for .com, .net or to determine a whole class like .gov
- use the ~ symbol to search related words
- related: will give you related websites
- use 2011…2013 to search within a time frame (3 dots)
- use the – minus sign to exclude a search term or category
- use intitle: and it will look for your search terms in the title of article
- use site: to see how many times your own site (or any site) has been indexed; good for bloggers, small business owners and non-profits
Hopefully, you now have a few useful tips to make organizing and researching easier. Google offers dozens, if not hundreds of different products. Click the photo above to see the list.
Have you seen this post before? Maybe! It was originally published in 2013 but I updated it to fix bad links and other information.