I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m not a great planner. I really have to work at it. So when I got a chance to review The Ultimate Homeschool Planner-Blue Cover by Apologia Educational Ministries, I decided to give it a shot. I was hoping to find something that helped me stay better organized, wasn’t complicated, and was also pretty (I know…that last one should be a non-essential, but I like pretty). Here’s what I found with The Ultimate Homeschool Planner.
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner at a Glance
The planner is available in three different colors. Blue, orange, and yellow. This planner is divided into different sections. They are as follows.
- School Year At A Glance: 2015-2023
- Users Guide: This section explains in detail how the planner is intended to be used.
- One Year Planning Grid: A grid used to plan vacations, school days, etc.
- Student Goal Setter: A place to write down both character and academic goals for up to six students.
- Pre-Planning Guide: This section includes a page to list priorities and resources.
- Monthly Planner: An undated calendar to keep track of each month’s activities.
- Weekly Planner: A four page spread for detailed planning.
- Records: A place to record test scores, grades, reading lists, and activities.
- Teaching Tips
- High School Planning Guide
- Year in Review: Blank pages to write down each child’s progress, answered prayers, and academic and spiritual growth of your family.
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner in Detail
At first glance, this planner seemed intimidating. There are a lot of pages and sections. But as I got into it, I liked it more and more. I like the idea of having detailed records and keeping good track of my children’s growth, both academic and spiritual.
The User’s Guide gives good ideas of how to use this planner. It is recommended that each year, you take a “planning retreat” of 4-8 hours to plan out the whole year’s goals, family priorities, and yearly calendar (vacation dates, etc). Then, it also recommends you have a 2 hour monthly planning session where you block out time for family priorities, tweak your plans to fit the goals you’ve set, and pray about if your activities are in line with God’s plan for your family. Then, you also do a 30 minute weekly planning session. This is to recount God’s faithfulness, plan for the week ahead, and pray over your week. It’s also recommended you have a Monday Morning Tutorial and a Friday Afternoon Review with each child to help them develop time management, go over their lessons, encourage them and pray together.
After the User’s Guide comes the One Year Planning Grid. This is a two page spread with room to write in vacations, special events, and whatever else you have coming that year. It’s good to block out school days to ensure you will get enough time in.
The Student Goal Setter pages have room for six students. There is space for both character and academic goals.
The Pre-Planning Guide is meant to be used during the yearly planning retreat, but could also be used throughout the year. There is a full page for family priorities and on that page is a reminder to make this your prayer list for the coming year. Then, there is half a page for each student’s resources (up to six students) for the year.
The Monthly Planner section is basically a calendar. There is plenty of room for activities and notes on these pages. I like that they are totally blank so that you can write in the months and dates as you go. For a non-planner like me, this is fantastic since I may or may not miss a few months of recording along the way and then those pages aren’t wasted. I can just pick back up where I left off.
The Weekly Planner section is my favorite part and is the most detailed. The first page contains space to write your Bible Plan, Battle Plan, Fighter Verse, Prayers, and Hospitality/Outreach. How wonderful to have a planner that puts these things first! The second page has space for Memorable Moments, Achievements, and Evidences of Grace. Again, these are areas that God’s blessings really show and it’s important to keep track of those things. The next two pages are a basic 6×6 grid. You can choose to put your students across the top or down the side and your days of the week on the other space. Then, there is a block to write each assignment. There is also space for notes, supplies, and appointments. There are 48 weeks worth of these pages in the Ultimate Homeschool Planner.
After the weekly planner comes the Records/Activities pages. This starts with a two-page grid for grades. This really isn’t much space if you’re a big-time grader, but if you’re just recording test scores, this would probably be fine. There is space for six student reading lists and six student activities and field trips. These pages are great for keeping an overall picture of significant events from the year.
The Teaching Tips pages have some really great ideas for making your homeschool special. It’s from the perspective of Debra Bell, the creator of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, so, like anything, the ideas will work for some and not others, but it’s always good to hear new ideas.
My Perspective on The Ultimate Homeschool Planner
I really like this planner. It meets all three of my requirements. It definitely helps me stay better organized–especially if I keep up with the monthly/weekly planning sessions. It isn’t complicated once you really get into it. And it is so pretty. It also meets a requirement I didn’t know I had, and that is to put God first. I haven’t ever seen a planner that focuses so much on the spiritual side of things. I thought a homeschool planner would focus on…well…homeschooling! Although this one does a good job of that, the author definitely recognizes that if your spiritual life is a mess, the rest of your life will also be a mess. I really found that to be valuable. If you haven’t found a planner that works for your family, I would definitely recommend giving The Ultimate Homeschool Planenr a shot!