Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A TOS Review: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner

One of my many weaknesses involves planning. I can plan like a planning freak. However, this does not mean I am very efficient with implementing said plan. I also get lost in the details. Some of the issue comes down to the planner itself. I need simple. I need pretty. I need something that helps me see the big picture. I need a little hand holding and a strong cup of tea. I think the cup of tea/planner is going to be a hard combination to find, but there is a new planner from Apologia Educational Ministries I recently had the chance to review. I received The Ultimate Homeschool Planner – Orange Cover and immediately started planning!

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner was designed by Debra Bell. It’s not just a few lesson plan pages and a calendar. It is a system that walks the homeschool parent through practical and thoughtful planning.

There are 3 designs available in all for the planner. All are bright and cheerful (which certainly meets my ‘’pretty” criteria). The planner itself is spiral bound. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this. I didn’t know how much I would like that until this planner.

There are also handy pockets in both the front and the back cover. I don’t have anything tucked away in there yet…give me time. I have plans.

One of the features that was really helpful for me was the user’s guide. The user’s guide was the hand holding I was looking for.

“Oh…that’s how organized people do it.”

My favorite idea ever (I think everybody is going to like this one) is for homeschool parents to schedule a planning retreat every year. Oh. My. Goodness.

Can you imagine? I can see it now. I could go to a popular coffee shop, but then I would feel like I would have to buy cookies or something. I really think the library would be my best bet. Several of our libraries have coffee shops attached. I could simply grab a cup of coffee, go INTO the library by MYSELF and find one of those cozy corners with a plug in, easy access to the copier and a whole library of resources at my fingertips.

Did I mention I would do this by MYSELF?

The planner also gives instructions how to plan month by month and how to plan weekly. This is a very supportive system. For example, it is suggested that you meet with each child every Monday for 20 minutes. During this time you should pray with your child, clarify assignments and talk to them about recognizing God’s grace in completing what is before them.  Isn't this a great idea? 

After you are treated to such great planning wisdom there is a section for academic and character goals. In addition, there is a resource list section (for up to six students) and a place you can record family priorities.

I’ve always struggled with planning Josiah’s academic goals. I think when your child is a student with some learning challenges you tend to not want to move too far ahead. I’ve been thinking on that some more and I have decided there is nothing wrong with having something to shoot for. It might challenge both of us.

The next section is are the monthly calendars. These calendars (12) are blank and feature a few lines for every day. You can see I have let my love of colored pens fly. I believe I can see a little glitter there, my friends. 

The weekly planning sections are divided up into four pages. This is quite a unique set up. Before you even start planning your lesson there is a page that lets you write out a Bible plan, Battle plan, Payers and Hospitality & Outreach. The next page features a spot to journal the week’s memorable moments and evidences of grace.

I used part of my planning space for my menu plan, as well. You can see I made a few adjustments along the way. 

I loved recording those special blessings in the planner that seem to get lost in the day to day hustle and bustle. This particular blessing was on our anniversary. As usual, we were living on a dime and a lot of prayer. Last Christmas, The Muffin had asked for a restaurant gift card as one of his gifts.  He saved it for a special occasion. He is so patience. I would have that gift card used up on cheddar biscuits alone by February. Know what I mean?  Not only did we have the gift card, but Troy got his meal for free because they didn't have something he ordered. It was nice to have a place ready to jot our blessing down. 

I was unsure if the extra pages of prayers, blessings and plans of attack would be something I could embrace when I first started using the planner. “Is this going to make more work?” I’ve found I LOVE it! It helps me focus on the priorities in my life. I feel more MINDFUL. 

The weekly lesson pages are fairly flexible. Since our homeschool features a child of one, I didn’t have any trouble fitting all our plans into the spots. I even had some space to doodle. It is recommended that the planner can be used with up to six kiddos. As you can see I neglected to add a date in the Week of: spot. I'm not sure why...only I tend to not remember the day of the week let alone a calendar date. 

There is also a section for scores. I don’t keep track of grades at this point. Missouri is more concerned with hours. I know next year in High School I will need to be better at the grades. There also didn’t seem to be a whole lot of room for the grades.

I, of course, am all over the section for the reading list. There is also a spot for field trips and extracurricular activities. I’m still trying to decide if we can call a trip to our favorite frozen custard spot an extracurricular activity. Josiah seems to negotiate that little trip effectively. I’m pretty sure we can count it as an elective.

Towards the back of the planner is a whole bunch of teaching tips. I found them to be informational and inspirational.

You can see there is a lot of possibilities with The Ultimate Homeschool Planner. I have found I've really enjoyed using it. It has been simple to navigate and I feel like it gives me the opportunity to be mindful of so much more than pages in a math book.

Of course, Apologia is a company with such purpose and integrity. I wouldn't expect anything less than a stellar product. 

There is a sample available for download if you would like to see it up close and personal. Just click here and look for the yellow download button. It should give you a few options. 

You can connect with Apologia via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner to read more reviews. 

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