Google Documents is like Microsoft Word, or Apple Pages.
Click the “New” button, find “Google Docs” and if you want a template page click the >. If you just click the “Google Docs” you will get the default blank page. I usually work directly from “Google Docs”, as I usually work from a blank page, but it’s good to check out what templates are available.
Your new document will open in a new tab in your browser. You can start typing away just like you would for any text document/word processor. Google Drive will pull your first sentence as the title or you can provide a title. I usually get my title in place before I start to type.
Here’s what a document looks like in use:
In the left upper corner, you will see a blue document icon followed by the title, the folder location and if the doc is shared or locked (private).
Under that you have access to all the regular word processor/text document tools.
This short 9 min. video moves along quickly, providing a good overview of what you can do in building a document. I haven’t used half of what he explains, but you can see what is possible.
For a fuller look at Google Drive / Google Documents check out this 29 min video.
My Usage of Google Documents
I use Google Documents for the posts on my child care business website. I build everything in google documents, so I can find it in My Drive at any time. I can easily change it out in Drive and then copy and paste it into my website. My website provides information for my families and also potential clients. It has my contract and handbook, emergency preparedness plan, work calendar for the year, and philosophy. Everything I need to meet licensing and Quality for ME step 3 can be accessed there. Without a website, I would provide families with the appropriate url link to view the material I wanted to share with them. Being able to share the url link means I’m not printing off my many paged handbook or emergency preparedness plan. I’m down to just those contract pages I need signed.
Here’s my website which you can access to see how I linked to google documents to share with families and clients.
I also use documents for my injury reports. I have a master copy that I make a copy of and add in the necessary information. I can also add in photos of injury and even location. I can also add a future photo to show healing if needed.
I use documents for daily notices and invoices if requested by families. I can add in tables which can be quickly filled in with info. Again I usually work from a master and copy as needed.
I have composed weekly newsletters in documents.
One great use I found for Google Docs is building individual eportfolios for the children in care. These eportfolios are set up as folders. Keep them private and share only with the family.
I made my first eportfolios by adding documents around assessments, development milestones, MELDS/Early Learning Guidelines. These documents included photos and links to videos I also had in Google Drive. This would be equal to the old 3-ring binder paper portfolios I maintained for each child.
Here’s the cover letter I developed.
I took time to list out the Early Learning Guidelines and was able to copy that list and then add notes with a different color font for assessment. Here’s a sample. I have done the same for the MELDS.
Having the ability to continually add to the eportfolio, I didn’t just have a year long portfolio, but a portfolio that showed the developmental story over all the years a child was in my care.
Families could access and even share with any one they wanted. I had families sharing their folder with their medical professional when they had normal child developmental check-ups. Others shared with special services professionals.
This eportfolio still takes time, but for me it was less than the paper version. It was also FREE. Families had 24/7 access. These are private folders, but families could share the link if they wanted to. One weak point for me was, I wasn’t sure if or when families were accessing the portfolio. I found I was continually checking in with them. While the eportfolio in Google Drive was a positive step forward for me I wanted a platform where I knew who saw what and when. That meant that while I continued with the eportfolios in Google Drive I was on the search for an alternative. I found one in Seesaw, which is where I now maintain my eportfolios.
I needed the portfolio as part of my QRIS level, but I also believed then and still do now, that there is value in families having ongoing access to their child’s portfolio. This access strengthen our daily communications.
Next section: Google Sheets