I have to admit that the past few weeks have been a rough time for our family. With Sarah’s mom’s sickness and passing, there have been times when homeschooling has had to take a little bit of a back seat. Planning has often had to take even more of a back seat. So, I am going to be right up front in telling you that I have used The Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia Educational Ministries, but not nearly to the fullest extent that I could have for the past six weeks or so. However, that being said, I HAVE used it some and already I am sold on The Ultimate Homeschool Planner.
After having used many forms of homeschool planning, both online and physical, I have come to the conclusion that I like physical, hard copy, planners better. It is what I began with when I first started homeschooling years ago so I am used to it, plus I just like something being in my face when I first get up in the morning. I don’t like to have to turn on the computer and search for it. If that has to happen, it often gets forgotten. When my hard copy notes and plans are sitting right on top of our homeschool books, more things tend to get done. It is also easier for me to spread things out on the kitchen table and write in a planner.
First off, let me tell you that this is much more than a regular old lesson plan book. The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is actually a PLANNER that helps you plan every detail of your homeschool year. It gives you step by step instructions on how to plan, in detail, your whole year and then break it down into monthly planning, weekly planning and then, to evaluate everything.
Let me also tell you, and this might be what I like about this planner the most, that The Ultimate Homeschool Planner centers on God and encourages you to put God as the head of your family and homeschool.
The first thing that the Debra Bell, the author, encourages us to do is to establish a yearly planning retreat. This retreat doesn’t have to be days, like you think of a retreat being, but she does encourage you to find a day where you can get away from it all for four to eight hours to just pray and plan your homeschool year. The main purpose is to write down a rough draft for the year, set academic and character goals for your children (and maybe even some character goals for yourself), and to prioritize these goals at a family level. Of course, all of this is with detailed instructions to make you think.
Let me tell you, this was a challenge for me. First of all, because of the length of time that we had to review this, I tried to put everything in quick mode and didn’t really set aside a day to plan the year. However, that wasn’t the challenging part. The challenge was that I had never thought about setting down character goals for my children. Don’t get me wrong, I have character goals, but I never really thought of putting down, in pencil and paper, the ones that I wanted to work on with them for the year. My wife and I had some interesting discussions about this and I had some interesting discussions with the Lord. The academic goals need to be thought out as well, as they are more than just “finish the math curriculum”. They want it to be a little more specific and personal for each child.
After you have filled out the large two page yearly calendar with known vacations, holidays, busy times, times to do major projects or tasks (such as potty training) etc, and then filling out the goals and priorities for your children and family, it comes times to do some monthly planning. Again, you are to try and set aside time to do this but it is only a couple of hours. This is very similar to what you did for the year, but a little more specific since you probably know a little bit better what is coming up for the month. First you are to look over last month to see what worked and didn’t work. Then look over your family priority list and the coming month to fill in the spacious monthly planner. I really like the way that prayer is emphasized throughout the planning. We are to ask God what He wants in our lives and homeschool. There is more to this that is detailed in the family planner but I won’t take the time to explain it all here for if I did, it would take more than one blog post, and, I would be revealing everything in the planner which I don’t want to do. Let me just say that I love this planner!
Finally it comes down to the nitty gritty . . . the weekly planning. Once again you are to set aside a little time, about thirty minutes or so, for this to be completed. The main objectives here, and I love the first one, are to recount “God’s faithfulness, make a battle plan for the week ahead, and commit your plan to the Lord.” This is where you set out your weekly lesson plans and schedule for the week. I really like sitting down on Monday to preview with each of my children the week ahead and pray. I also like reviewing, at the end of the week, with my child. It is good for feedback but is also a wonderful time to see God’s blessing and to commend your child for the good things that were accomplished this week.
Let me tell you again that with everything that happened during the time to review Apologia’s The Ultimate Homeschool Planner I have not got to use it to it’s fullest, but I found that when I did use the planner it was wonderful. I am very much looking forward to using it more. I am excited about what regular use of this planner, with God’s help, is going to do for our homeschool.
To find out more about The Ultimate Homeschool Planner and Apologia, just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To find what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about The Ultimate Homeschool Planner click on the banner below. Happy Homeschool Planning!