Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Homeschool Planner Review

Over the last few years, I’ve heard many people rave about this homeschool planner or that one. Although I’ve thought many times about buying one for myself, I’ve never actually followed through with that plan. So, I was naturally delighted when I was given the opportunity to review a homeschool planner!

The planner comes from The Old Schoolhouse Store. I received the Primary Schoolhouse Planner designed for K-4th grade.

We are right in the middle of this school year (we’re very much “off” a traditional schedule!), and my hope was to be able to merge this planner right into our current school year Unfortunately, the planner wasn’t going to smoothly fit into the plan I already had in place. But, simply trying to fit the planner into our current system was probably the best crash course I could get! I was able to really see how this planner could and could not help us.

How is the planner organized?

This is a one-year planner Adobe download specifically designed for the 2011-2012 school year. The dated calendar pages run July 2011-June 2012, but many other forms and features are undated.

The planner can be used in a variety of ways. It can be entirely edited and filled in on the computer and then printed. It can be edited and used on the computer itself. Or it can be slightly edited (subjects and days filled in) and then printed and modified after printing. The pages can be printed individually as needed.

The planner includes month-in-view calendars, informative lists to help with teaching, weekly planning forms, and other forms for everything ranging from book reports to field trips to household chores and much more.

LIKES:

  • The planner is long – 234 pages long, to be exact. That could be extremely overwhelming were it not for the well organized table of contents. Because of that organization, it’s simple to see what works best for me and what I can just skip over.
  • There are a lot of options to ensure a good fit for various homeschool styles. For example, there are three different styles of monthly calendars and weekly planning forms.
    • My favorite forms are “Books Read” and the plethora of journal and report forms. They are fun, and they are varied. I can already see how one child would prefer one style, while another style would be perfect for one of my other children. The variety is wonderful!
  • Pages 81-124 are filled with “Informational Must-Know Lists.” Although most of this is information we already have, it is nice to have it all in one place, easy to find and use.
  • I give a different checklist page to each child. It looks like I can save a copy of this planner customized for each child without having to purchase multiple planners or lose all the entries each time.
  • The planning forms leave much room for flexibility. This is essential!

DISLIKES:

  • As mentioned before, we are rather non-traditional in our school approach. The form that would work best for my weekly planning is already labeled for weeks 1-36, and that particular box is unalterable. We are currently on an 18-month, 60-week school cycle. Next year it will probably be a 14 or 15-month 45-week cycle. So, obviously a 36-week planner doesn’t quite work for us. There are ways to work around it, but I really like the layout of that particular weekly form and would love to be able to expand it to fit our system. There is another form that would work well, too, just not as perfectly.
  • I have to enter the subjects afresh every week. My current system allows me to use a pre-established form that allows me to keep repetitive entries instead of retyping them each week. This is just a preferred time-saving device that this planner doesn’t allow.
  • There is an awesome “Day of Learning” form for students to fill out. Unfortunately, our learning opportunities are quite different from the ones listed, but they cannot be changed. I wish that particular form could be much more customizable. But, in all honesty, it’s one form of many – there are so many other forms that are wonderfully made and flexible.

Bottom Line: I won’t be fully incorporating the planner into this year’s curriculum simply because I would need to make too many changes. But, I will be utilizing some of the forms. In fact, I think I’ll be utilizing enough of this planner that the cost would have been justified even without the helpful weekly planning functions. Keeping in mind that I don’t have other homeschool-specific planners to compare this one to, I think this planner is exceedingly well organized and is very functional. As I learn more how to adapt the planner to fit us specifically, I will possibly become a regular purchaser of Schoolhouse Planners.

This planner was sent to me by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine in exchange for my honest review.

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