I am a paper planner person. When I got the opportunity to review a planner from Apologia Educational Ministries, I was happy to. There is nothing better to me than the feeling of writing on a paper with your thoughts and having them appear. I like the feeling of putting pen or pencil to paper. It is a pleasing thing for me and on a planner that is pretty, such as The Ultimate Homeschool Planner – Orange Cover by Debra Bell – well, that is just a joy.
When I received my copy of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, I spent some time just browsing through it. I looked at the pages and the boxes and all that is in the planner. As I always do, I felt a bit overwhelmed and knew I needed to go read up on the suggested uses to get an idea of how it was designed. The example pages were really helpful and I was ready to get started.
Debra Bell is familiar with the needs of homeschooling moms because she is one herself. She set this planner up with maximum flexibility. I like flexibility. I like that this is set up in a way that I can decide how it will work best for my family, yet still have some foundation for each page that I don’t have to create. The pages can be used in a couple of different ways and the calendar pages are undated so you can adjust them to your family’s schedule.
Throughout the planner, you will find that Debra has set this up to find a focus that relies on God. There are Bible verses and quotes throughout the planner. Each monthly planner has both a Bible verse and a quote of encouragement or beauty. The weekly planner pages have several ways in which the focus on God is presented. There is a reminder of the Lord’s Day, a place to write your Bible plan for the week, a place for a Battle plan and fighter verse for the week, a place to write about hospitality and outreach. Additionally the weekly planner has places to write your week’s evidences of God’s graces and memorable moments and achievements.
The whole purpose of a planner is to plan, right? Well, I often forget this. Debra reminds us of this need for planning in several good, helpful ways. The user’s guide at the beginning guides us through a planning retreat to help us get the entire year planned out and going right. She also helps explain a monthly planning session and weekly planning sessions. She also helps me see how to include my older students in mini-planning sessions on Monday and Friday.
I plan to incorporate these in our schedule once we begin after Christmas break. This gives me some time to get myself together and it will allow us to implement it without the interruptions of holidays and school breaks due to travel. I hope to fully implement her planning schedule, including a plan for the entire year of 2016, at the new year. This in particular has been a helpful insight for me. I am not a planner by nature so this was good information to have written down with examples.
There are a couple of things that I want to point out.
- As our oldest student gets towards high school, we are beginning to think in that direction. The planner advertises that it has a High School Planning Guide. I was very disappointed in this. It was not what I would call a planning guide. It was an example of how to fill out a form in this book that has to do with high school plans. But, it was not a guide. For information, you have to purchase a different book.
- There are only 48 weeks in the planner. Since we are talking about planning an entire year, including breaks, I would prefer to have a planner that has 52 weeks in it so that I can mark the off ones as well and add in anything educational we do during that time. If I understand it correctly, one of the other color options has 52 weeks in it. The orange cover does not.
All in all, this is a lovely planner with some good information. Definitely worth a look for those of you who, like me, prefer to write down what is going on the “old fashioned” way.
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