If you homeschool, you know the frustrations of finding a planner that will work for you. I can’t tell you how many planners, systems, printables I have tried in finding a system that will work for the way my brain is wired. In fact, it got so interesting in our house last year in regards to calendars and planners (of various sorts) that my husband had to put his foot down and forbade me from purchasing any more calendars/planners/printables/binders for new ways of doing things.
Ok, so maybe I have a problem. Is there a twelve step program for people like me?
I did come up with a way to keep track of lesson plans, curriculum and such that worked just fine for the way my poor brain is wired. It has been working well for me and the way we school for two years now.
Recently, I got to review Debra Bell‘s planning system (The Ultimate Homeschool Planning System and the Student Planner) which is sold by Apologia (yes, the wonderful people who has brought us the Exploring Creation series, the terrific Who is God series, a great selection of books to inform, motivate and inspire us in our homeschooling journey).
This is a good planner. I appreciate the fact that included in the planner are articles to help you master the planning beast with a yearly planning retreat, how to plan for a month, take a quick plan weekly, how to use it to show your children the plan for the week and then use it for a review of what they did get accomplished at the end of the week. It has sections to set priorities, make a list of resources you need to procure and a large yearly planning grid. There is space for up to six students to plan individually your goals for each for the year too.
For the nitty gritty, there is a section to record grades, reading lists and activities that you are involved in. Plus there are helps and suggestions on how to create an independent learner, motivating those who are a bit more reluctant, an article on learning and thinking skills.
The planner isn’t overly feminine and frilly. It has a good neutral tone to it and a non-frilly floral pattern that I love (it actually goes fairly well with my wall calendar!). It is spiral bound with a sturdy spiral, and the covers are a plastic which will repel moisture (not like any of us would ever get liquid [ahem, coffee] on our planners, eh?) and have folders in the front covers.
I love the pages for planning your week, space to enter in your triumphs, prayer focus, your own Bible reading plan, and how you are incorporating ministry to others into your homeschool days.
I do really like the layout of this planning system. It is a good general homeschooling planner that anyone could use (and in the even that Mom isn’t able to teach, it is self-explanatory enough that most people could grab it and take over for a few days). I did have an issue with trying to switch planning styles (I’ve been using a printable and a clip board for the last two years and have become rather accustomed to the way I’ve personalized it). I also plan out our school for six weeks on and one week off and while it is doable in this planner, this planner is designed for a year, almost like a regular teacher’s planner book (only way more detailed than the ones I used as a teacher in Christian school). I know if I had started with The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, I wouldn’t have had the issues I did with changing planning styles/layout totally. I fully intend to use this to it’s fullest potential in the coming school year (which starts fairly soon for us actually since we school year round, six weeks on, one off with extra time off around holidays. It gets too hot in the summer to do much so we may as well school and have a great time when the weather is nicer).
While the planner is terrific as it is, I would add a few more folders inside. And perhaps an elastic loop to attach a pen (I don’t know about you, but it seems my writing utensils wander off on a regular basis) and a zippered envelope to hold paper clips, stamps, rubber bands and chocolate. And while this is a terrific general planner, I would love one aimed more for parents of elementary aged students (while I do intend to homeschool all the way through high school, I don’t need the articles on doing it currently in my planner) with more space to organize learning life skills for that age group, how to survive the years of not-so-independent learning, field trip ideas (and space to record field trips in more detail). Don’t get me wrong, I do really like this planner, but this is how if I was going to do it, would lay it out and what I personally would add.
I also got to review the The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students. It is laid out so very well for those beginning to learn how to schedule their days and assignments. I love how there are sections for the students to record their favorite things, articles and helps to guide logical and analytical thinking, the places to record grades, reading, physical activity plus the added history timelines, geography lists, how to convert measurements, multiplication table and a whole lot of other information that will be great to have at your scholar’s fingertips. I would love to see a place to attach a writing utensil in this planner too, and perhaps folder pockets in the covers like the master adult planner. My eldest would love for it to come in more girly colors. But then, she is a girly girl and loves pink and glitter and glam. One of the coolest features of this planner is that the spiral binding on it glows in the dark. Which at first when it got left on my nightstand kind of freaked me out until I realized what was glowing beside our bed…
These planners are beautiful (and there is a choice of two covers for The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, so you have more options!). They are encouraging, make it easy to keep a record for the year of what you have done and will serve as a great tool for looking back and reminiscing when the kids graduate (which thankfully for me is a long way off yet). These are great for any mandatory record keeping you have to do in your state, promoting order and peace and training our children to make wise use of their time and being diligent in their work. I can highly recommend these planners to make your life more streamlined.
You don’t have to take my word for it, to find a medley of other review perspectives, visit Mosaic Reviews!
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