Automating Your Kids School Schedule

Automating Your Kids School Schedule

06/14/2024
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Homeschooling your kids can be quite stressful, and will require you to be on top of everyone's schedule. Fortunately, there is a simple way to automate letting your kids know what the schedule is throughout the day.

Since we’ve been at home over the past month and a half, we’ve been having to figure things out and make them work. While my work has always been flexible, and I’ve had the opportunity to work from home if needed, that generally meant that I was alone in my office working without a lot of distractions.

With both my wife and kids home, and them all being busy to some degree, it means that I’m not able to get as much uninterrupted work time as I usually would. My job is understanding of the dilemma, but I still was struggling with keeping a kid doing school work without me having to constantly watch after him to make sure he was moving to what he needed to do.

As I discussed in my article about working from home with kids during the pandemic, we have set up a daily school schedule for our son who is in first grade. When we first started this schedule, either my wife or I would make sure he knew that it was time to move on to his next task.

While that worked alright, it was really tough to make sure we were able to get him to his next task on time. Oftentimes, both my wife and I will be in a meeting or online class at the same time, making it really hard to make sure he moves on to his next item.

As such, I went out in search of some way to set up a schedule that would announce itself on Amazon’s Alexa platform. We have several Echo devices throughout our home, so that seemed the logical choice for announcing when to move to the next task. Initially, I was looking for a connection between a calendar (Google or Outlook) and Echo, but that isn’t currently possible to have the Echo automatically remind you that it’s time for your next calendar event.

Eventually, I stumbled on Amazon’s “Routines” that are part of the Alexa ecosystem. Routines were initially intended to run a routine that turns on or off smart devices in your home at certain times of the day or when other events happen. However, you can actually use a routine that simply plays a message on your smart device.

After a bit of playing around with this, I was able to get my son's daily school schedule setup in the Alexa interface (on my phone) so that every time throughout the day when it’s time to move on to the next task, it plays a little sound and then announces what the next task is.

I still have to prod him every now and then to move on to his next task, but he’s pretty good about listening and doing what it says. While he knows what is next on his schedule, he doesn’t have to watch the clock constantly, and I don’t have to either.

We also start every morning off by talking through the schedule and exactly what he’ll be working on during each time so that if neither my wife or I are available, he’s able to move right into it without having to wait on us. By starting out the day with an overview of how things will go, he’s able to be pretty self sufficient to do his schoolwork.

Setting up Alexa Routines for reminders

  • Open up the Alexa app on your phone.
  • From the main menu, click on Routines (4th item from the top in my app as of right now).
  • Click on the add icon (top right).
  • Give your routine a name.
  • Under the “When this happens” option, select the Schedule option, and then select a specific time (and for the weekdays).
  • Select an action to occur at the time. Specifically, you want to select the “Alexa says” option, and then enter what Alexa will say. You’ll also need to select the device that this will be played on.
  • Save the routine, and then you can click on the play button to test that it says what you want on the device you want.
  • Repeat the above steps for each item that you want Alexa to announce.

That’s all there is to it. Alexa will now make sure your child knows that it’s time to move on to your next scheduled item without anyone having to constantly watch the time throughout the day.

Conclusion

Using technology to simplify your life can be very helpful. Take advantage of the tools that you have available to you to keep things organized in this chaotic time for everyone.

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