Pages That Might or Might Not Be of Interest to You!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell

So you probably are aware from my two previous posts that I won a copy of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell.  I posted my initial thoughts and then an update after using it for a week.  Now, here are my thoughts after a few more weeks.


I thought I loved my previous planner but this one is more adaptable and has more of what I need in it.  It is fabulous.

So why do I love it?  Why am I going to buy a new one in August?  Why am I going to buy all of my kids one to use (Student/High School Planners)?

Let me just tell you.

First I love the cover.  It has a bit of a slick feel to it and there is a pocket on the inside of both the front and back covers.  The spiral binding makes it easy to lay it flat or fold it over on itself.   It is a large binder but when you have five kiddos you need all the room you can get!

But that is just the outside; let's talk about the insides.  ;-)

The very first page is a yearly calendar for the current year and the coming year.  The back side of this page has the next two years.  A quick, at-a-glance look at dates makes for an easy reference.  Super handy!  There is of course an information page for your school.  On this page of my planner, I have a signed note from Debra Bell.  (I may just frame it!)  lol  There is a welcome page from Debra Bell and Zan Tyler then a Table of Contents. 


The next part was wonderful.  I have it all marked up, underlined, highlighted, and notes in the margins!  This section is the How to Use part.  I strongly suggest you read this several times to get a grasp of the concept of this planner. In this section they talk about having a planning retreat-love it!- and how to set goals for your family and kids.  Each page of the planner is listed and explained.  A few pages later there are example pages with notes all around them.  Let me tell you, this was uber helpful in understanding just how to use this planner.  (no, it's not that difficult it is just a different focus than I was used to)
 After these pages is  the Monday Morning Tutorials and Friday Afternoon Reviews.  Now, these things are meant to be done in conjunction with the student versions of the planners which I don't have,yet, but I love the idea so much that I am instituting it until we get them.  It is just a meeting on each of those days to prepare for the week and then to finalize the week.  These pages are a great reference in helping your students in becoming independent learners.

Following that is a year long column calendar to fill in with fixed engagements.   Ones like vacations, holiday breaks, co-op meetings, etc.  This is an amazing tool that I didn't know I needed!  I love the ease of looking at this quick view of our year.  Right after that is the Character/Academic Goals for each student, followed by the Family Priorities list.  (priceless)  The Resource List is next in line where you can list what you need for each child and where you get/got it from.


Now, we are finally to the Calendar section!  The Monthly Calendars are first; all twelve of them.  Now what I love most, I think, is that there are no dates on the calendars.  None.  That means I can tailor this calendar to our school year not the other way around.  Can you say ideal?  I mean really, aren't homeschooling moms the queens of tailoring things?  So each month is mapped out and ready to be filled in.  Once that if filled in you can move on to the Weekly pages.  But before you start filling in your students and their assignments you come across The Lord's Day planning.

Let me say here that the biggest draw/benefit of this planner is that the focus is on God and family.  Throughout the entire planner a focus is on following Christ and planning your school and life to that end.  Each section is used to help fulfill His purpose in your life and school.

The Lord's Day section is no different.  This section has a Bible Plan, Battle Play, Prayers, and Hospitality/Outreach section.  You map out each item to get a game plan for the week and then you can fill in the next page to see how God worked in our lives for the week.  The next page is This Week's Memorable Moments and Evidences of Grace.  Counting our blessings is made easier by writing them down right away and then sharing them with our family.

Now you are ready to start filling in the Weekly Planner.  This section is AMAZING!  It has six columns across and down so you can use it how it works best for you.  I put the kids' names across the top and the subjects down the side bc that's how I "see" things; but you could do it the other way and it would work just as well.  I appreciate that this section has boxes big enough to fit all of our assignments for the week w/o writing terribly tiny or abbreviating everything.  (I like this part best!)

After the Weekly Planner comes the Extras!  There is a Records page, Reading List, Field Trips, and then some articles.  The first article is Checklist for Raising an Independent Learner followed by Motivating the Reluctant Learner.  Learning Styles and Thinking Skill is a helpful checklist if you aren't sure about your child's learning style.

But my favorite part is what's next.  There is a planner for mapping our your child's high school years.  There is a grid for planning 8th -12th grades.  BUT, there is also an example schedule to give you an idea of how to go about the daunting task of planning high school.  This has been so helpful to me.  I have started filling it in and then realized that we were already well on our way to having the first year of high school mapped out.

Finally there is a Year-End Review.  Each planner from now on will have a Year End Review that we can scan quickly and see what the year was like.  Kind of like a blog and I'm all over that!

Now, possibly the only thing that I did not like was having to thumb through the pages to find the section I needed.  Not a big deal in the scheme of things but it does take some time to find the right section.

So...I put on sticky tabs.  I labeled each section and then used a pink sticky tab to mark the current week.  It was an easy fix and one I am glad to do for this wonderful planner.  :)

I am still loving my planner and can not wait for the Student/Teen Planners to come out.  I'm pretty sure we will love those too!

Wanna buy one?  Head over here to get your own copy!!

**I won my copy of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner on a blog contest.  This is my opinion and was not solicited in any way.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love your review. We just bought ours at our homeschool convention and are so excited to start working on our plan for NEXT year already. I also like that it gives you a full year's worth of monthly calendars...great for those of us who like to schedule something in during the summer months so we don't have to do "battle" again starting school in the fall. :-)