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Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love to organize and plan, but anyone who truly knows me well also knows that I could still use all the help I can get! I've gone through an array of different options for homeschooling planning... including not doing it at all (!), which just wasn't very productive. I've used bound, pre-printed planners from an office store, e-files from popular websites/blogs that I've printed myself at home, and a hybrid Excel-based but partially printed concoction of my own creation. Yet I was still curious about what other options were out there (am I the only one with an insatiable need to look into just about all things homeschooling?)... was there something I was missing out on? Indeed, there was! But now I've had the chance to use Homeschool Planet, a computer-based homeschool planner from Homeschool Buyers Co-op, over the last few weeks (just in time to plan for the upcoming school year - yay!) and am quite pleased to share my review of it with you now!
About Homeschool Planet
Homeschool Planet is a powerful, flexible, customizable online all-in-one planner. It is available as a subscription and can be paid for yearly or monthly. There is a myriad of aspects and features, including but not limited to things like:
My Experience & Opinion
I love Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I think they are are great company and often recommend them. In fact, it's the only company that I currently have a referral link to on my website (did you notice there are no other ads or affiliate links or anything for sale here?), so that must be saying something about my sincerity of support for them! They do a great job offering support and resources to the homeschool community (sounds right up my alley) and their planner is no exception!
Homeschool Planet is well-thought out with a lot of attention to detail throughout the program. It is fairly easy to navigate and learn to use, with a familiar calendar style default presentation. At first, I wondered if it was really necessary to use something like this... why not just use my Google Calendar or spreadsheet system? Oh boy, I had no idea what I was missing! This planner is so much more powerful with far more features.
This is the first time I've used a planner and felt like it conformed to me, instead of me trying to work within a structure designed for someone else! Just about every aspect has some level of flexibility (there are edit buttons all over the place, haha)... yet it's designed in a way that you can just log in and get going, without having to set up the framework from scratch. I was able to change the background & theme, choose which features and widgets to display, and decide how I wanted things laid out. Since we don't use grades with our kids yet and don't need to track attendance, I was able to leave that out (but I did look over both features and even those had options and were made convenient to use).
Of course, I did still have to input our schedule and lesson plan for the most part. However, I was happy to receive a free pre-made Homeschool Planet lesson plan from their Lesson Plan Marketplace for one of the curriculum programs we use and there are more that they have available to choose from, all designed to make things even easier by laying everything out and populating your calendar for you (with options to change stuff, of course)! Some of the free lesson plans include All About Spelling, Veritas Press, LifePac, Mystery of History, Wordly Wise, IEW Fix-It Grammar, Math Mammoth, Saxon, BJU, Meet the Masters, and more!
The lesson plan that I chose to try out was a history one. I found it helpful, but I did notice that I had to manually go through and remove assignments from every week that we did not plan to do, having to do with the historical fiction books that my girls would likely read all in a few days, so I didn't need them broken up into assignments over several weeks. But removing them was easy (albeit a bit monotonous and only slightly time consuming) because I just unchecked the boxes next to those assignments when importing the lesson plan. It took less time to do that than it would have had I needed to plan and type it out myself! I was a little bummed, though, that more of the curricula we use was not yet included in the available lesson plans, but there was an option to contact Homeschool Buyers Co-op to let them know what I'd like to see. I can't wait until they add more!
So I did say it is fairly easy to use, BUT it did take me some time and watching a few videos to really understand the features and know what everything was for and how to use it all. They say it doesn't require hours to learn how to use it and I would agree with that, except that I think spending the time to watch their tutorial videos did help me find more value and get more out of the planner. You see, I did sign up for a free trial of this planner in the past (a year or two ago). I logged in, looked and clicked around a bit, but didn't fully realize the full potential, so I never really tried to use it. This time, I took the time to settle in and get a real feel for it, and I'm glad I did.
The simplicity and ease of making changes to our schedule is probably my favorite part of this planner! I mean, really? What homeschool family is actually able to make it through a year (heck, even a week!?) without something unexpected coming up or needing to change course a bit? If you are such a family, I need you to come teach me how! In the meantime, I'm over here trying to cross things out and re-write my plan for the week or jumping on the computer to alter and re-print the next few months - all of which takes mental energy and extra time. But now? Oh my goodness, NOW I just click a little box and BAM! Everything is shifted for me. Ahhhh! (Me? Type A? Well, maybe a little...) No more scribbles on my calendar and no more trying to see what would work best to fit things in that we missed. No more re-writing task sheets for my kids. No more fuss over schedule changes! It's. so. easy.
Another feature I love is the resources page - it's a place to keep track of things that we might plan to use to complement or support a lesson. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a cool book or science kit or saved a link to a great video or helpful website... and then totally forgot it ever existed. That is, until months after we covered that lesson or topic and then we are all bummed we missed out on the opportunity to include those cool extras. Now I can input the resources we acquire and even attach them to the lesson/assignment they fit best with and then the miracle happens - I can remember to use them! (Oh, and some of the pre-made lesson plans Homeschool Planet offers have website resources already included, which is a nice time saver and perk.)
So with all the amazing things about this great computer-based planner that I love, I definitely appreciate that I can print the daily digest! I can take it with us and I don't have to be always logging on or looking at the computer throughout the day. Besides... sand from the beach isn't good for my laptop, now is it? And we have to fit in those beach days and road-schooling adventures!
It's simple: I would absolutely recommend trying this one to see if it suits you. You might love it or you might hate it... some people thrive with technology and others stick to a simple notebook... it really is a personal preference thing. But either way, whether you usually use a paper planner or a computer-based approach, this one is worth considering!
And for June (until June 30th at 11:59pm EST), Homeschool Buyers Co-op is offering a FREE 30-day trial of Homeschool Planet AND a FREE lesson plan! Check it out. Take advantage of the free trial and give it a full try (dig in and make sure you see all that it offers).
If Homeschool Planet is something that you are interested in finding out more about, feel free to click on the banner below to see lots more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew. You can visit the Homeschool Buyers Co-op website and/or visit them on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.