Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Planner is the Ultimate! Planning With The Ultimate Homeschool Planner - Mosaic Reviews

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner
Debra Bell Ultimate Planners, 2013
Apologia Educational Ministries
110 Meridian Plaza, Suite 220 / 340
Anderson, IN 46016
Toll Free: 888-524-4724
Visit Apologia on Facebook and Twitter or Visit the Apologia Blog

Click To Order the Ultimate Homeschool Planner 

Download an Apologia Catalog pdf
Click here for a planner overview

I'm always looking for a way to keep everything important organized in one place.  Unfortunately that has usually meant using two to four planning calendars at a time.  And then...

As a member of the Mosaic Reviews team I received a copy of Debra Bell's Ultimate Homeschool Planner.  I think I finally have one planner that covers almost everything.  In the past I've had a personal calendar for family stuff (4-H, meetings, appointments, school, etc.), a church calendar (I prepare monthly for the church), and a planning calendar for blogging and reviews.  In addition to these three there is a desk calendar covering the top of my desk which is an overlapping calendar of the others--somewhat of a 3 in 1.  Let's just say that there's plenty to keep track of around here, and it's easy to miss something if we don't write it down.  Since receiving my Ultimate Homeschool Planner I have attempted to combine all of my other calendars into one place.  I had a feeling I'd have to return to my separated but easy-to-follow 4 calendar plan, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find that this truly is the "ultimate" planner.  

In this planner Debra provides a step-by-step User's Guide with visuals to get you started planning and prioritizing.  The planner, which is part of Debra's Ultimate Homeschool Planning System, is spiral-bound and contains the following:

  • User's Guide which explains how to have a Yearly Planning Retreat, prepare Monthly Planning, prepare Weekly Planning Breaks, Monday Morning Tutorials, and Friday Afternoon Reviews
  • One-Year Planning Grid (2 pages, each page contains six vertical "month" columns)
  • Student Goal Setter (room for planning character and academic goals for 6 children)

  • Pre-Planning Guides (includes a Family Priorities List to use as a prayer list and pages to record student Resource Lists)
  • Monthly Planner (undated, 2 page calendar with lots of space each day and a Notes section at the bottom)
  • Weekly Planner (includes a Lord's Day section with room for a Bible Plan, a Battle Plan with a Fighter Verse, Prayers, Hospitality/Outreach, Weekly Memorable Moments, Achievements and Evidences of Grace)

  • Records (a page for scores, a reading list page, and an activities list page with space for plans for 6 children) 

  • Teaching Tips (Checklist for Raising an Independent Learner, Motivating the Reluctant Reader, Learning Styles and Thinking Skills)
  • High School Planning Guide with an Example (covers grades 8-12)
  • Year-End Review (a place to summarize goals reached, prayers answered and growth)
  • Notes (blank)
  • Bibliography (The planner has inspirational quotes scattered throughout the many pages, and this is the source list.)
What I thought, the good, the bad, the real stuff:

The Good:  This planner provides a lot of space to write in your own plans.  There are sections for personal and spiritual planning, goals, and lesson planning.  The planner coordinates with the student planners which are also available.  Planning can be done weekly, monthly, and yearly all in the same place.  The planner construction is sturdy, flexible for your own tweaking, and has a sprinkling of encouraging words throughout.  I have to admit that it is quite attractive too--not a planning help but might make some want to spend more time checking it out and using it.  I love that I can cover my child's lessons and activities, my personal spiritual and and life activities, and family plans without having to add extra pages or abbreviate everything in order to make it all fit.  There are even pockets inside the front and back covers to keep important information with your planner.  Debra provides very good detailed instructions for how to use the planner by itself or in combination with her youth and teen planners.

The Bad:  One small thing that was a bit of a negative for me was needing to fill in the dates on the calendars.  This is only a minor inconvenience and did not keep me from liking the planner overall.  Although I might not have been inclined to pay quite so much for a planner, after examining and using this planner for a few weeks, I'm very happy to say that it is well worth the price.

The Real Stuff:  We do school in a very eclectic, relaxed and fairly informal manner.  I've wanted to be more consistent about writing down our plans, goals, activities and accomplishments.  This planner is definitely helping me do that.  Keeping on top of things is a lot easier since I started using The Ultimate Homeschool Planner.

The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens
Grades 7-12, Spiral bound

I also received a copy of The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens to examine and use to provide you with information about another of Debra's planning tools.  The teen planner is for grades 7-12.  It is spiral bound like my Ultimate Homeschool Planner but is smaller in size. 

 The teen planner includes a ruler, an All About Me personalization section, Semester planning pages which cover  7 a.m. through 11 p.m. for each day of the week, monthly planning pages with scripture verses and Mindworks tips, Weekly planning pages with SAT words, and inspiring quotes, Grades pages to record scores for multiple subjects, an Activity Log, a Credit Tracker, a page for recording  High School Records such as SAT and ACT scores and yearly G.P.A., a Guide to Punctuation, Italics, and Capitalization a section which explains plagiarism and citations, a Fractions, Decimals, Percent Equivalency Chart, a Periodic Table of the Elements, an Algebra Review, a Physics Review, a Map of the World, a U.S. Map with State Capitals, U.S. and World History Timelines, High School Checklist and other study helps.  There are even stickers to add to significant dates for appointments and activities.

Debra encourages having your children move toward greater ownership and responsibility in managing their time as well as training them to seek God's help in their lives.  In order to help that happen the teen planner is used with the Ultimate Homeschool Planner.  (Directions for how to use the planners together are included in the parent planner.) 

My daughter has been using her planner to keep track of her meetings, appointments, and other obligations.  She likes the way the planner is arranged and the extra "helps" which are included.  Now we need to work on using the two planners together.  That hasn't happened consistently yet.  The good news is that we still have plenty of time.  I'm looking forward to both of us staying on track individually and together.



Christephi S said...

I agree that I wouldn't have spent this much on a planner, but that now that I've used it, it's definitely worth the money! Great review!

Anonymous said...

Great review! The learning to work together with our individual planners is still a work in progress here too!

Raquel Dunn said...

I love how different everyone writes their reviews! This planner is worth the money for sure!

Some Great Links

Blog Button photo BlogButton_zps9d4cfbd4.jpg Mama Jenn