The Homeschool Planner You Need. #Review
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to admit it right up front: I’ve bought stuff from Homeschool Buyers Co-Op in the past, and I’ve even used their online homeschool planner, Homeschool Planet, before, right when they first started it.
Now, I really like Homeschool Buyers Co-Op. They’ve allowed me to purchase curricula with great deals that I never could have afforded otherwise, and I’m so incredibly appreciative of that. But to be honest, back when they started Homeschool Planet, I was all excited about it – and yet I hated it. It was slow, it was clunky, it was hard to use, yadda yadda yadda…
So when the review opportunity came up, I rolled my eyes and wasn’t really interested. But see, I’ve been searching for years for the perfect homeschool planning solution, the one that works just the way I need it to work… and so I finally gave in and went and peeked at the current version, figuring stuff had to have changed at least a little, right?
Oh My Gosh… that peek made me go sign up for the review. Right then and there.
So if you’re in that same boat – you tried it out in the early days, didn’t like it, and are pretty skeptical, well… it’s time to take another look. You’ll be glad you did. And if you’re totally new to Homeschool Planet, well, you don’t even have those preconceived notions standing in your way…
There’s normally a 30-day free trial offer, but through Friday, July 17th at 11:59pm EST, it’s been extended to a FULL THREE MONTHS. That’s plenty of time to lesson plan for fall and see if it’ll meet your families needs during the school year, all before you have to make a decision on commitment. What are you waiting for?
Ah, details. Yes, I suppose those might be important. [grin]
In all fairness, there is no way to do a truly comprehensive review of all the features and benefits that Homeschool Planet has to offer in a review short enough that people will read it – it would extend to thousands of words. Instead, I’m going to offer you a general idea of what to expect when you go sign up and try it out for yourself.
Homeschool Planet is online, and should work well from any reasonably modern browser, regardless of operating system. (This means Windows, Macs, Linux, iOS, Android… basically, if you can read this blog on it, you should be able to use Homeschool Planet on it.) For mobile browsers, a limited, lighter-weight site is presented.
Each person is able to have individual logins, which allows students to mark assignments as completed. Multiple themes are available, which is a nice personalization plus – it adds a layer of friendliness that I appreciate. (Though the kids have mentioned that it’d be nice if there were more options – or they could create their own – something I’d guess many modern teens have come to expect with web apps.)
There are many options for scheduling classes – always my make-or-break point with planning software – and Homeschool Planet’s is quick, doesn’t require endless saves and reloads, and offers a preview of what the results will look like. (Definitely experiment with these – and do yourself and kindness and view the tutorial videos. They explain how everything works far better than I can, and when I finally gave in and watched the ones I needed, I discovered that the software was MORE user-friendly than I expected, and the reason I was having difficulty was because I was expecting it to be more difficult and less obvious!)
Daily plans can be scheduled to specific hours (the very idea horrifies me) or left nice and flexible like my family prefers. It’s super-easy to postpone a lesson or a whole day’s worth for one or all students, or even adjust for the fact that your child randomly decided to do all of this week’s math on Monday.
There are options to add chores, appointments, and other events to the calendar, and even track time for them. (Man, I wish I’d had this – working this way – about eight years ago when my oldest first started Scouts. It would’ve made tracking P.E., leadership, and volunteer hours SO much easier…
Oh, that’s right. Almost forgot to tell you. Subjects and classes are all adjustable, and there’s a decent-size palette of colors to choose from to customize your organization. (Like always, I’d wish for more colors… but there’s plenty here to be usable.
A variety of printing options for assignments and reports, including transcripts, are included. I haven’t spent too much time playing with those, as I’m only partially done entering the year’s worth of assignments, but I did notice that these, too, load exceptionally fast, especially in comparison with others that I’ve used. Very nice.
Do you track resources? I never have, though I keep thinking I really ought to – I need to sort the curricula I have, decide what to keep and what goes, and DO it. Plus, I have a ton of electronic resources. The Resources section of Homeschool Planet is just as smooth and quick as the rest of it, and it’s NOT complicated. The only thing I haven’t quite figured out… should I put library books under resources, and just note that they’re from the library? I think I’d prefer to keep the resource list consisting solely of items I own, so… then where do I put library items? (Hint, hint… any chance we could have one more little checkbox in the item entry… perhaps owned and borrowed, and maybe a way to sort them?)
And widgets. I thought they were silly, at first – little added boxes that go on the edges around the planner that can include things like a daily quote, the weather, a search box, or a to-do list. The quote and/or bible verse is a nice touch, sort of like what you’d see on a printed planner. The weather option may be useful, but I haven’t used it long enough to know how accurate the service it uses is for our location. The to-do and grocery list, in all honest, are best used for jotting a quick note when I’m working on planning (instead of stopping) that I can later transfer to my regular lists.
All in all, I am VERY pleased that I’ve had the pleasure of using Homeschool Planet, and it’s going to be my planner this year. I’m uncertain how much the kids will actually use it – while I personally love the idea of them logging in and checking off their own assignments, it never seems to actually work out that way no matter what method I use. They just seem to track things better with pencil and paper. I have a new way we’re going to be doing the kids’ paper planners this year, and I think Homeschool Planet will be the perfect tool for me to keep up on MY end.
Expect me to be talking a lot about Homeschool Planet in the next month or so, as more curricula arrives, I finish up our planning for this year, and set up the kids’ paper planners. Pretty sure this is going to be a match made in heaven for the flexible homeschool!