It has taken me many years of homeschooling to fine tune my daily planning system. I have tried and rejected probably dozens of planners, and always approach a new planner with a great deal of skepticism. Since I have finally found a system that works for me, I decided to give up on trying new ones, but since I am a huge fan of Apologia Educational Ministries, I felt that it would be worth my while to review The Ultimate Homeschool Planner when the opportunity was made available to me.
About the Ultimate Homeschool Planner: This planner is more than just a spiral bound book for daily lesson plans. It actually contains training for goal setting, home school organization, and planning for both short and long term. The planner itself is a 9x12 spiral bound book that is about an inch thick. It has a heavy duty plastic cover (comes in yellow, orange, or blue) with inside pockets to hold loose papers or receipts.
|I found the pockets handy to keep receipts and papers to be filed.
What makes this planner different? The first few pages lay out the plan of instructions for using the planning system and making it a successful part of your home school. What I found very helpful was the Biblical principles woven into the instructions - special statements that directed the user to pray over their schedule, seek Godly counsel over decisions, and build time into their family's weekly schedule to honor the Lord. It truly is a planning SYSTEM, not just a PLANNER.
How does the planning system work? There are several ways to plan both long and short term goals, and to track how well those goals are being met. First, the user is directed to spend a day planning out broad goals and priorities for the entire year. Next, those goals are broken down into monthly planning sessions, where the user breaks them down into a manageable schedule. The user is then directed to spend about half an hour per week tweaking their weekly plan, tracking schoolwork for each child, planning around appointments and commitments for the week, and evaluating priorities. Finally, the last step is holding a short planning session with each child at the start of the week, and then a week-in-review session at the close of the week, to measure success and prioritize for the future.
What do the pages look like that allow you to work this system? First of all, there are NO dates already marked, so this planner can be started at any time. The user fills in their own dates. I find this to be extremely helpful. There are calendars included all the way up to 2023 which allows for more long term planning than I am even capable of right now!
The annual pages can record goals by month or day, and can be used to write major life events. The monthly planning pages allow the user to write in dates and get a big picture view of the entire month.
|I started in on January already!
There are 48 weeks worth of weekly pages. Each week covers a two page spread, and is a series of blocks that can be customized to the household. The blocks are in rows and columns of six across and six down, so whether the user is planning by student, subject, or day, they will have the flexibility to customize their weekly plan to suit their needs.
|My weekly plan
What I like about this planner: This planner is so much more than a place to record assignments, "to-do lists" or school attendance. I really like the fact that it is designed to be a way of life, encouraging families to reach their potential in such a wide variety of areas. There are so many creative pages that have really pushed me to think about my priorities, and actually have a plan written to set and reach goals, not just have wishful thinking.
How this planner has affected me: Though I have not actually planned out an entire year or even a month yet, I have slowly started implementing the goal setting and achievement principles into my thinking and home school planning. There are some subtle ways that this planner has changed the way I go about interacting with my children and their schoolwork. We have always been a family of list makers, but using some of these principles to have a 'meeting' and foster more independence in my children has been a positive result of this planner entering our home school. I look forward to continuing with this planner into 2016, as I close out the year with my current planner. My hope and prayer is that the spiritual emphasis of this planner will help me to be more focused on the spiritual nature of our homeschooling experience.
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