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Monday, October 26, 2015

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)



Many homeschooling families are familiar with Apologia Educational Ministries. If you're like me, you probably have many of their books on your bookshelves at this very moment Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to review the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal which was lots of fun for our family.  Well, Apologia is back for another review crew, this time for the very popular The Ultimate Homeschool Planner. The members of the crew were each sent one of these planners with either the yellow, orange or blue covers for review.  Our family was sent a copy of the yellow covered planner and it has become a very useful tool to my homeschool planning.

I have bought numerous planners in the past - both regular and teacher's planners - in the hopes of getting things organized for our schooling.  These planners have often fallen short and have led to frustration as they are not designed for the needs of a homeschool family.The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, designed by Debra Bell,  is a 280 page, 48 week, spiral bound planner designed with homeschool families in mind. The PVC cover is very durable and provides a pocket both in the front and the back for keeping handouts for the week and other important papers.  Inside is jam packed with features such as multiple school year calendars (spanning from the 2015-16 year all the way to the 2022-2023 year), a one year planning grid, pre-planning guides, monthly planners and weekly planners, it is extremely easy to lay down the groundwork for a well organized school year.  Towards the back of the planner are pages dedicated to keeping track of grades, reading lists, activities as well as a Year-End Review.




At first glance, this planner can be a bit overwhelming.  The author seemed to understand this and included a 12 page User's Guide at the beginning explaining the best way to jump in and start using it. I was very grateful for this User's Guide as it thoroughly explains the various features and giving many suggestions as to how to schedule blocks of time each week and month to plan ahead.  These monthly and weekly planning sessions allow to focus on family priorities, learning goals and to avoid scheduling gridlocks that can occasionally occur. 

The weekly planner pages provide a nice grid format allowing for planning multiple subjects for each week, along with weekend activities. There are also blocks designated for weekly notes, a place to keep track of supplies needed for that week and also a section for upcoming appointments that might cause scheduling conflicts within the week. Each week also has a quotation to provide encouragement for the week, a nice addition. The planing grid provides adequate area to write multiple assignments per block, providing 5 lines per block.  I write pretty big, however I was still able to fit assignments into the space provided without feeling confined.    I was easily able to list all assignments in the spaces and was even able to use the extra space to make notes of the daily meals as well as the upcoming hockey games. 
  
But The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is much much more than just calendars and lists.  

Unlike any other planner you might have seen before, this planner also helps the homeschooling parent to focus
on and plan for their spiritual life as in addition to their students education.  For me, this was a really wonderful added feature and came highly unexpected.   Each week, pages are provided to keep track of Prayer requests, Outreach projects, Bible study and your own personal Battle Plan, including a Battle verse to focus on.  Debra Bell even provides a website suggestion as to where to look for Battle Verses for those unfamiliar with them.  

These pages really were an answer to my own prayers.  As I keep my planner within arms reach while sitting on the couch, it was very easy for me to grab it and make a note of which friends were asking for prayers so I could remember later.   It also allowed me to jot a quick note as to what I would like to concentrate on each week, whether it was patience, centering, remembering to pray, ect.   

Overall, I found this to be a wonderful planner and I would easily say it's probably one of the absolute best for homeschooling families.    While somewhat overwhelming at first, after a few weeks of using it, much of it becomes habit and you can have your entire week planned out in about 30 minutes.   

Apologia can be found on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Google Plus.





Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

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