Wednesday, April 10, 2013

{Mosaic Reviews} The Ultimate Homeschool Planner

I like to be organized.  I don't like clutter or messes which is kinda funny if you were looking around my house right now because it's pretty messy.  Ha, ha!  However, there really are only a few things that I feel like I have well organized.  One of those things is my homeschool "recording sheets" for our daily schoolwork. 
In the past six years of homeschooling my children, I've tried a variety of recording methods.  It is very important for me to keep close track of our work because our state has some pretty strict regulations about the information we need to report to our school district on each student yearly and quarterly.
I've found, in the past few years, that my best option was to create my own "recording sheets" in a Word document so I could customize it very specifically for each of my children.  I have been so completely sold on only using my own sheets and haven't even considered checking out any other products on the market.  
I was given the opportunity to review The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell.  To be honest, I sat on it for a few weeks, kind-of unsure how to use it because I liked my own recording method so much.  Besides that, I have a dated daily planner for keeping track of appointments, extracurricular activities, play dates, and so on.  Plus, I have my blog planner to help me stay organized with my Mosaic Reviews responsibilities.  Having so many planners to use left me somewhat paralyzed.
I finally decided that I needed to just go for it and start using The Ultimate Homeschool Planner to record our daily homeschool work.  I also needed to let go of my silly perfectionistic thinking that all my recording sheets for this year wouldn't match...seriously, sometimes I annoy myself! 
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner really is more than simply a planner - it is a planning system that allows you to keep track of a variety of aspects of yours and your student's lives.  When used in conjunction with the student and teen planners, it is designed to help you "count your blessings, encourage independence, and record your progress."  This system helps you to teach and encourage your children to accept greater responsibility and independence for their homeschool journeys.
The Mom's Planner has so many neat components:
(1) a yearly calendar up to 2016. 
(2) a user's guide with instructions for how to use the planners together
(3) a one-year planning guide
(4) setting family priorities
(5) a student goal setter
(6) undated monthly planning pages
(7) undated weekly planning pages
(8) Monday morning tutorials and Friday afternoon reviews

Each week's planning actually contains four pages.  The first two pages allow you to place the focus of your homeschool back to the Lord.  My husband and I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to teach our children according to God's Word and to develop their character to line up with God's Word.  These first two pages are the most exciting piece of these planners for me personally.  Too often, my goal is to simply get down to the business of teaching and learning the three R's and sadly, I overlook this gift of time all day, every day to be very purposeful in training my children in the ways of the Lord.  
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner will cause you to stop and think about your:
(1) Bible Plan
(2) Battle Plan with a fighter verse
(3) Prayers
(4) Hospitality/Outreach
(5) Memorable Moments and Achievements
(6) Evidences of Grace - God's mercy, faithfulness, protection, and provision

The next two pages of the week's planning allow you to plan for up to six children for Monday through Saturday (with Sunday being recognized in the first two weekly planning pages).  I recorded a few projects and "to-do's" for myself and kept track of my school aged children's completed work, extra activities, field trips, etc.  I imagine when it comes time to write my quarterly reports for my school district, this method of having each boy's work on one page will make the report writing move along more quickly.  I am all for making that necessary process easier!
The Student Planner is the second aspect of the planning system I had a chance to review.  My fifth grade son was completely on board with using it.  He got right down to business filling out the "All About Me" pages.  
The Student Planner has many useful parts:
(1) undated monthly pages
(2) undated weekly pages with check boxes for done and approved work
(3) a check box for daily quiet time
(4) grade keeping
(5) reading list
(6) a reference section with a variety of useful facts/information
(7) year at a glance up to 2015
(8) fun stickers to mark important events like appointments, birthdays, tests, etc.
(9) a Study Smart Student Toolkit
As it turns out, it was a lot more challenging to keep my son interested in using this planner without my direct input all the time.  I realize I haven't created an environment where he needs to keep track of his own assignments.  For our basic subject areas he knows to complete the next lesson or the next few pages, etc. and then I check his work.  Once his assignment has been completed and checked, I have held the sole responsibility for recording his schoolwork in my planner.
The biggest lesson I learned from using The Student Planner is that I need to create opportunities to help my son develop more independence and responsibility with his schoolwork.  You can bet that we will be working on this and continuing to utilize The Student Planner.

I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to try out this planner.  I really liked the layout of the four weekly planning pages.  I was able to easily record each boy's daily work.  Even though this planner is completely different than my beloved (ha, ha!) homemade recording sheets, I could see this planner working for me long term.  One big thing I realized is that I really should spend more time planning ahead - yearly planning and setting of goals, compiling lists of resources, and monthly planning. 
I would prefer to have the option of ordering a three-hole punched copy rather than having the planner spiral bound.  I keep my homemade recording sheets in a binder along with correspondence from my school district, individual plans of instruction and dates for submission of quarterly reports, fliers about field trips, syllabi's from our homeschool co-op, etc.  Because this planner is spiral bound, I still need to have a separate binder to keep my other important papers together.  That being said, I could honestly see myself combining my daily planner, my blog planner, and this planner month by month in one three-ring binder and having great success in keeping my life well organized.
If you are interested in purchasing The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, The Student Planner, or The Teen Planner, please visit Apologia for pricing and other great products.


Christephi S said...

I love your review! Your joy and energy flows through your words beautifully! Aren't you glad for homeschooling pros like Debra Bell to give us a kick in the pants so we'll realize we need to train our kids to be independent and responsible for their own schoolwork? They'll thank us later and we'll thank ourselves too! :-)

Anonymous said...

Great review! I love you mentioning your perfectionist tendencies toward the non-matching pages.

Raquel Dunn said...

Great review! My daughter was same way. I think we need a couple more years before we add the student planner!

Olivia said...

I think it's pretty incredible how much you manage in your life. Don't you ever think you are unproductive again. I just might have to smack you! jk