Friday, September 5, 2008

A Review: The Schoolhouse Planner

Recently, I was given the opportunity to test drive The Old Schoolhouse’s new digital homeschool planner. I have to say, TOS has done it again…except even bigger and better this time!

Let me preface this review by saying that I am a self-proclaimed “planner junkie”! I absolutely love them and have way more than I will ever need or use! I finally figured out after trying out TOS’s planner that I have so many because not one of them has ever met my needs just right. Many are not designed by someone with homeschooling and all of its intricacies in mind, while others are so rigid that I just can’t seem to “stretch out” in them and get comfortable.

Calling this product a “planner” is not doing it justice. It is so much more than that! I didn’t know what to expect when I starting looking through it, but I was so excited about the sheer multitude of useful items inside! This planner is not just a slew of the same old printable forms and record-keeping sheets. The genius behind this product is that it is also a unit study guide, homemaker’s journal, and overall life organizer!

The planner begins with a fully “clickable” table of contents so that each page can be found and accessed with the push of a button. I love this! I will no longer have to search and search for just the right page! Then, each month of the year is spread out across two pages with large squares for jotting down daily schedules. The second half of the planner is full of great, original forms for homeschooling and homemaking!

The first surprise among many is that each month has its own theme. For example, the focus for the month of September 2008 is “Music Mania”. Each unit provides tons of excellent information pertaining to the theme, including worksheets, craft projects, and direct links within the text to pertinent websites! There are even coloring pages included so you can engage your little ones during your lessons. And in addition to the theme units, there are many great recipes that are fun and easy to make with your children.

The second surprise is just how comprehensive this planner is! The forms in the second half of the planner were obviously created by homeschoolers who understand the sheer amount of things that we have to juggle each day! There are forms for meal planning, housekeeping, children’s chores, babysitter info, gardening and other home projects, budgeting, books read, crafts completed, and even bible study and prayer journal pages! There are places to include photographs of things you have done during the year, a great way to record things for your portfolios!

I didn’t know if I would like the digital aspect of this product, but I have since become convinced that this is the best thing that has ever happened to homeschool organization! It is interactive, easy to personalize, and actually makes record-keeping and planning fun! Plus, because it is digital, I can print out only those forms that pertain to me and put them together in a way that suits me and my family best.

The third and final surprise, and perhaps the thing I like most, is that because of its digital nature, it is fully expandable! I will be able to easily add new forms and new modules in the future as they become necessary to me or available from The Old Schoolhouse.

The only negative that I could find about this product is that I have to use printer ink and paper to print out the pages. However, the positives outweigh this one negative so much that it is almost a moot point. The great thing is, if you like keeping your records on the computer, you never have to print a single page in order to get full use out of the planner.

With all of this being said, and at the risk of sounding like a cheesy infomercial, I just have to say: This is absolutely the last homeschool planner you will ever have to buy! I recommend it with complete confidence that you will love it, too!

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