When the email rolled through about reviewing The Ultimate Homeschool Planner (from Apologia and retails for $28) by Debra Bell I jumped up for joy and nearly knocked the keyboard in the floor! I love planners…big and small and I have several (family planner, blog planner, lesson planner and a purse sized planner) well…maybe too many. My oldest also received his very own planner (from Apologia and retails for $19) and I was delighted he spent nearly an hour looking his over and didn’t just toss it aside.
After the webinar with Debra Bell (these conference calls and webinars with the developers is the BEST part of being a reviewer), I came away with a deeper appreciation for this planner. Apologia, the company that publishes this planner, understands that every homeschooling family is unique. They design their products to be flexible and adaptable by all families and easy to use with the goal to help keep you homeschooling. This planner lives up to Apologia’s mission. She also explained to us the goal of this planner was not just for lesson planning but to keep us aware of God’s faithfulness and activity in our homeschooling journey. I never thought about documenting our journey in this manner before. The more I use this planner the more I realize my need to remember just how much my family is graced and blessed by God. Now that I am writing about God daily in the planner I am increasingly aware of His presence in my family’s life and filled with gratitude. Mrs. Bell told us that keeping focused on God helps to prevent burnout. I’ve yet to experience the dreaded “homeschool burnout” and hopefully never will.
How I used the planner: The first thing I had to do was go through and date the planner…not my favorite thing to do. I always mess up writing in dates and that makes my crazy come out. But, in order for this planner to be useful to all families it needs to be undated. The beginning of the planner has a tutorial on how to use it and set it up. The instructions are very easy to understand and follow. There is a two page yearly planning section to set up the outline of the school year…general plans and goals. Mrs. Bell recommends spending time in prayer while setting the goals for the year. The next section is the monthly planning pages. Each month has a two page spread with plenty of writing room. Yeah! The monthly planning day is a time to go back over and access priorities and goals, plan lessons and check over the schedule. The unique part of this
planner is the weekly planning pages. The first part is a two page spread for recording prayers, reflections, memorable moments and accomplishments, evidences of God’s grace and so much more. These pages are the heart of the planner. The two following pages are the weekly lesson planning pages. These pages are versatile and can be used so many ways!! The two pictures above are my lesson plans for this week.
My oldest received The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students. The goal of the student planner is to encourage independent learning. On Sunday evenings we meet together and go through his assignments for the week and he records them in the planner. He then works through his seat work in the order he chooses. Transitioning to managing his own time has been pretty easy for him. We use Christian Light Education and student independence is built into the curriculum. He likes the planner and wants one for next year too!
I really like using this planner and it brought home the fact that I need to spend more time in prayer as I prepare for my school week. Using this planner taught me to recognize God’s abiding presence in my entire day…not just when I am having my morning devotional or on Sunday’s. Sadly,I often compartmentalized my day and separate God from my daily schooling and household tasks…this planner is helping me to integrate my daily life with my Savior. I never expected to learn this from a planner…maybe it is time to get rid of the others.