Review – The Ultimate Homeschool Planner


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UPDATE 4/12/13: I love this planner, I truly do. I love this planner so much that until today I had decided to purchase it despite the fact that Apologia is not a company I want to support financially. My decision in that respect was personal; I do not believe that Apologia offers curriculum that is factual or grounded in the real-world, specifically in science. But, until now, I kept quiet about it because it’s personal.

And then Apologia came out with a statement declaring that LDS/Mormon families are not Christians.

I really didn’t want to get involved at first. I am not part of this quarrel. I am not LDS/Mormon. I am not a religious homeschooler. I am not a person who spends any money in the Apologia store (though I had been planning on buying the planner next year). I am, however, a person who thinks that this was a really, really low move on behalf of a company. Notice how in their statement they pretty much condemn those outside of their restrictive belief system to Hell, yet they will still gladly take your money (“Although we may have differences in our theology and doctrines, Mormons can continue to benefit in their homeschooling journey by using Apologia resouces.”) By the way, the spelling error is Apologia’s, not mine.

I cannot, in any kind of good faith, recommend Apologia products to anyone at this point. If their statement doesn’t bother you, then proceed. If their statement does offend you, then speak with your dollars.

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:11

With love & peace to ALL,

Meg

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I’m a planner, oh boy am I a planner. My best efforts, however, are sometimes thwarted by the fact that I tend to write things down in multiple places. I have four recipe tablets, several personal notebooks and not one but TWO note taking apps on my phone.

Now, combine my planning compulsion with my inability to keep everything in one place and add homeschooling five children into the mix and you end up with….well, I just don’t have a nice word to explain how overwhelming planning can be SO for the last 12 years I have been flying by the seat of my pants.

*CLICK THE PHOTOS TO SEE A LARGER VERSION*

frontcover

After getting acquainted with The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell I will *never* be without a planner again. I love this planner, it fits every single need I have and is darn near perfect.

It’s not just a homeschool planner, it’s a LIFE planner.

The first thing you notice about the planner is how sturdy it is, and it’s pretty too! The front and back covers feature pockets for important papers.

The first page of the planner is a 4 year calendar for quick reference and is followed by an introduction from the author and pages and pages (and pages!) explaining how to use the planner (with pictures!)

yearatglance

Now you get into the meat of the planner. There is a 12 month calendar that you can mark on, it runs July to June so you can start where you are. My tip: use a pencil or learn to live with scratch-out marks. Not that I would know or anything.

Following that is one of the more important sections, goal setting. The planner has spaces for up to 6 children. Here you list your goals for the child, character and academic. The character goals are so important to list out, I am really impressed that they are included.

goals

The next section is for listing family priorities and resources for each child. As I only have 5 children I use the 6th section as a family category. Following this is your monthly planner, with plenty of space to write appointments and other things like your meal plan. Spattered throughout are encouraging quotes and scripture.

resources

monthly

When you move into the weekly planner you see even more evidence of the uniqueness of this planner. Each week starts with a plan. You have a Bible Plan, Battle Plan, Prayer list and Hospitality/Outreach (AMAZING!) There is half a page dedicated to the Memorable Moments of the week (family funnies, victories, progress, etc.) and Evidences of Grace. There is also room to list random notes, supplies you’ll need and any appointments you have.

Following the weekly planner you’ll find reading lists and so much more useful and encouraging information on how children learn that it’s too much to list out. The planner rounds out with an annual reflection and notes about the year and the coming year.

What I Like: The cover is water resistant (very important in my house!)

It’s obvious that this planner was written with a specific religious viewpoint, however, you can easily change the sections around to meet your needs if that doesn’t work for you. I simply changed “Bible Plan” to “Book Plan” and “Prayers” to “Things to Work On”, and so on.

What I Love: The planner isn’t dated so you can start where you are and it’ll last a full 365 days!

The planner is also affordable, at between $20 & $30 depending on where you buy it. You really get a huge bank for your buck!

What I’m not crazy about: Um. Hmmm. Nothing?

Sure, I’d *really* like to see a secular version of this planner but I like it enough that I will continue to purchase it and modify it to meet my needs.

There are only a few very minor things I’d like to see in future editions of the planner.

I’d like to see the monthly calendar moved directly in front of the weeks calendar so I don’t have to flip to the very beginning of the planner to see all of our appointments, though I acknowledge that this would be difficult since some months have 5 weeks. Tip: Use large paper clips to mark the current month & week so they are easier to find quickly.

I would also add a small ring to slip a pen into.

I’d change the weekly planner to reflect 7 days in a week, it currently allows for only 6. I get around this by combining Sunday & Monday.

Finally, I’d make the reading list section at least twice as long. I like that it’s in there but 25 spaces per child isn’t nearly long enough as some of my kids can go through that many books in a month.

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell is available at Amazon.com for $21.60 or $28 through Apologia.

But wait! There’s more!

As if that wasn’t enough, I have two mini (very mini!) reviews of the student planners written by Debra Bell!

My Jayden, who will be 10 very soon, LOVED The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students. The planner features a glow-in-the-dark ring binding and is also water-resistant. Jayden said “This is a big help to me because it includes daily, weekly and yearly planning and it has a place for me to list my goals.”

Emily, my 14 year old, is also making good use of The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens. If you live in an area that requires hourly reporting you’ll find this planner is great for that, allowing you to visually mark off your work in 15 minute increments. Emily says it reminds her of the planners they used in school, she just wouldn’t have as many pages of SAT practice words if she was the one writing the planner. She’s also a little jealous that hers doesn’t glow in the dark ;)

Oh hey, if you end up buying the planner through that Amazon link I’ll get a little kickback in the form of Amazon credit. Only about $.04 BUT it all adds up, right? If you’d prefer to order it without that kickback that’s cool, just go to Amazon.com and search for the book and you’ll find it :)

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