Monday, July 13, 2015

Homeschool Planet (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

As many of you might know, I am one of the least organized people I know.  I've tried on numerous occasions to plan stuff out - I've bought those expensive sixty dollar "life planners" that end up collecting dust year after year yet I continue to buy them in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, I'll somehow manage to plan things out.    Things began to turn around when a recent review I did began to show me HOW to plan things out for our homeschool.  Learning how to schedule things efficiently really helped to push me in the right direction.

So when I was given the chance to review Homeschool Planet, an online home/homeschool planner developed by the Homeschool Buyers Co-op, I jumped at the chance.  I now had the tools to know how to plan, Homeschool Planet now gave me the ability to use those tools and efficiently plan out the upcoming school year.

Calendar Option makes it very easy to see what is planned for the week
I had tried other online planners in the past and I will say without a doubt that the functions and abilities available to users of Homeschool Planet far outweigh any others I have seen.  This is also the most user friendly online planner that I have used as the interface is pretty straight forward and do not require wadding through tons of drop menus to get to what you want to do.

First, the ability to add classes and assignments are extremely easy. Planning a class is a matter of just clicking on the time frame you would like, entering the class information and the student(s) who will be doing the coursework.  You also have the options of selecting when the class will end and what days of the weeks that class will be held.  Assignments are easily added once the class and students are selected.

Planning vacations, holidays and days off are also extremely easy to accomplish. By just clicking on the settings menu at the top of the screen and selecting "School Year and Vacations" you can input the day you plan to start school, the day you plan to finish and what days you would like to plan off during that calendar time by simply checking that date.  Homeschool Planet also keeps track of how many actual class days will be attended during the period of times you select so that if you have State attendance requirements, you can easily see if your schedule fits those requirements.

But maybe you're wanting to do much more than just planning your school. After all, most of us are also running a household on top of everything else..  And one of my biggest complaints about other planners is that they are usually exclusively homeschool related and then I need a second planner system for the house.  For me, this is a deal breaker;  I don't like to have multiple planners and I'm surely not organized enough to even try to keep planners for both school, home and a calendar to keep track of everyone's schedule. With Homeschool Planet, I don't have to!!  Everything integrates perfectly together, including importing my husband and my daughter's google calendar.  I'm able to include meal planning, calendar events, shopping lists and appointments all in one planner.  Even more so, I can email my shopping list to my husband's phone so he knows what to pick up while at the store.. How cool is that?

School Schedule, Meal Planning and my Shopping list all in one place!!!

I'll be the first to say that I haven't discovered everything this program can do.  Each and every day I'm finding something else to help make my life much easier. For one thing, the widgets allow for personalization to include things such as weather, inspirational quotes, bible verses and such.  A quick drop down menu allows me to quickly organize websites, videos, books and other resources that I hope to use.  This is very helpful in that many times, I completely forget to use my online memberships but now with just a quick click, I can go straight to it.  These resources can also be imported into the lesson plan so that with just another quick click, I can go straight to the resource I want to use for a particular lesson without having to hunt for the particular page I want.   Another feature is the grading helper where you can set up your grading scale, assign different weights for tests, assignments, quizzes, ect, and set up a cutoff grade for passing/falling. You can also track class hours which again, is very helpful if your State requires proof of these types of things.

Homeschool Planet also makes it really to print out everything you are tracking.  Schedules for the day, the week or even the month are all possible, as well as reports for attendance/hours and any lists that you are making.  It is even possible to print out grade reports and transcripts for each student.

Printable Daily Plan lays out all assignments easily and clearly
I even used the program to keep track of all my Advanced Dinner Reservations for my recent Disney World Vacation and was able to print them out and keep them with me in one place.  (Wish I had thought to do it with my Fast Passes as I often forgot what time they were for).

We all know life can easily interfere with even the best laid plans. Homeschool Planet seems to understands this and makes it very easy to reschedule assignments for a different day with a quick click of the mouse.  Maybe your student started the assignment but didn't complete it?  You can even mark the assignment as such so that the next class day, you how it needs to be completed.

I should also mention that it is possible for kids to have their own separate login so that they can see their own assignments and check them off as they complete them.  All the resources that have been linked to those assignments are available for them as well.. I personally didn't use this function or set up logins for my kids as both Ash and Garrett are a bit young but for older students this would be wonderful.. I only wish I could have my oldest's teachers to link up her assignments so I know what her homework is ;)

I honestly cannot say enough great things about this program and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to try it.  Being a member of the Homeschool Buyers Co-op, I had seen it before but never thought it would be something that would interest me.  Now, after having used it for a number of weeks, it has become a tool that I honestly cannot see myself doing without.  Even better, the customer service of Homeschool Buyers Co-op is great about taking suggestions from its users and making changes or additions to the program.  In the few weeks we've used it, they have made multiple changes that only made the program that much better.

Because of Homeschool Planet I have now, for the first time in 3 years, completely scheduled a full school year with assignments, activities and projects that usually I'm struggling to pull together the night prior. And because I can see those projects way ahead of time, I can put the materials I need into a To Do list in the program and know what I need to order well before the time I need them.  This program has literally been a game changer for me.

And because Homeschool Planet only costs $65 for a 1 year subscription (a month to month subscription is also available for $6.95/mth), I will no longer be buying those expensive $60 "life planners" that severely limited me and instead ends up collecting dust on my bookshelf.

If a person like me, who is completely and utterly disorganized, can successfully use this program and keep everything together, anyone can use it :)    Want to see if it's right for you? You can try Homeschool Planet yourself free for 30 days.

Homeschool Buyers Co-op can be found on the following social media:  Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Click below to read other reviews from my fellow crew members :)

Homeschool Planet Review

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