The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is actually pretty ultimate and covers almost all the bases you might need to cover to plan a successful homeschool year, or even to plan a successful year of life.
About the Product:
So what is included in the Ultimate Homeschool Planner?
It starts out with the a yearly calendar- 4 of them actually. So mine has a page (front and back) containing a calendar for the 2012-2013 through the 2015-2016 school years (running from July to June). I normally print off a July-June school calendar every year, so this was a good thing to be included.
Then there is a good 10 or so pages of a User's Guide. Now, I know we all know how to plan, but this User's Guide had a lot of really good information in it and it all comes from a seasoned homeschooling expert! She gives a lot of great information on planning sessions, prioritizing your school year and how to get the most out of your planner. She also goes over the ins and outs of using the student and teen planners.
Then the planning pages start. First with a year-at-a-glace page. This is a place where you can put in your days off, holidays, extra curricular activities and anything else that might need to be planned around or take a high priority to book work. I used this page to mark our co-op classes, birthdays, important farm dates where life-school takes precedence over book work.
Next, there are goals pages for each student (up to 6 students). There are places for academic and personal goals. A yearly goals sheet has always been something I print off each year. Other pre-planning pages include a family priority list and student resource list (and yes, a resource list was something in my planning pages as well).
Then comes the monthly planning pages. These are undated pages with space to write the month, year and dates as well as a few spots to write any notes for the month. Each month is a 2-page spread.
After the monthly pages are the weekly pages, where you can transfer your monthly plan into a more indepth weekly plan. Each week is a 4 page spread. The first 2-pages are a blank planning grid with 6 rows and 6 columns. I really liked that they were blank to allow me to find the best way to plan for my family. I played around with listing subjects, days, kids, etc before settling on days going down and subjects going across. These pages are also undated, which gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility on your school breaks. The 2nd part of the weekly pages are dedicated to Sunday and the week in review. I am a secular homeschooler and was able to tweak these pages for my use. I really enjoyed the spaces to jot down the week's memorable moments and other positives for the week. Those sort of things- that focus on the positive- really help to keep burn out at bay.
Once the planning pages are done, there is still a lot left to this planner. There is a section on record keeping for recording grades and reading lists. There are pages giving teaching tips from learning styles to reluctant learners. And finally a high school planning guide to help with that daunting task of planning for homeschooling high schoolers!
The Bottom Line:
Page for page the Ultimate Homeschool Planner has just about every page I would normally print out for any given school year and then some extra. I found I used it for more than just a homeschool planner, but as a life planner. There was room for all of my my dates-to-remember and activities as well as the educational plans.
What did I like the most?
- I really liked the fact that the pages were undated. Homeschoolers come with all sorts of schedules, not everyone goes from June-July and we all take different breaks. So the fact that I could label the calendars in the order I wanted, was really nice.
- The flexibility of this product is amazing. You can see it most in the weekly pages. I have used other planners that pre-write the subjects or days of the week or student 1, 2, etc and the fact that I could use the grid to fit my specific planning style was a definite plus.
- All of those extras! The teaching tips, the planning tips, the records forms! It was nice to have all of those extra pages in one place.
What would I change?
- If I could add one page, it would be an attendance form of some sort. Many states require homeschoolers to keep an attendance sheet, and while sometimes there are specific forms for each state, having one bound in the planner would be one less piece of paper to lose!
- I would prefer that the weekly planning pages are sandwiched between the months, instead of all the months then all of the weeks.
- The binding. I have a love-hate relationship with spiral binding. I love that it lays flat, but no one in my family, me included, can keep a spiral-bound book intact. The spiral just starts moving up the book as we open and close it! I know there are other ways to bind that can't unravel!