Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planners

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner $ 28.00
The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens $19.00
The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students $ 19.00
Debra Bell

I was greatly BLESSED to receive ALL THREE OF THESE planners. I have used a different planner for about three years now...and I admit...I was a little skeptical about switching to something NOT MY USUAL...but let me tell you...I am sure glad I did!

Beginning with The Ultimate Homeschool Planner...This planner is about 8.5 x 11 inches. Their are two cover options to choose from and both are lovely to look at. The covers are a flexible plastic and VERY DURABLE and my very frequent embellishment on paper (ye ole coffee ring) was no match for this cover. The binding is a bright yellow spiral, which means it is VERY EASY to find under all those piles that accumulate...I am sure that never happens to you though! Both covers have a pocket to store loose papers you might want to keep handy. There is a heavy duty paper with a four year calendar on it. This is a NICE thing to have handy as you are looking forward and planning ahead.

The next section is a HOW-TO guide to using this system...the system consists of the Ultimate Planner, a Student Planner and a Teen Planner...these are made to use together, giving students from 3rd grade and up the opportunity to learn the valuable life skill of planning and time management, while at the same time, lessening the burden on Momma! Now who wouldn't LOVE that?

The basic planning sessons you really need to make this most effective are:
1} A Yearly Planning Retreat (Did Debra just give me permission to get away???) Seriously though...this would be a GREAT time to get away with my husband to sit and pray and plan for the upcoming year...she recommends 4-8 hours. Due to the time of year I received this and my life at that time, I was not able to FULLY complete this part of the program...but as I think it is an important part of it, I will be looking forward to that this summer.

2} A Monthly Planning Session- This gives you an opportunity to update your planner for the things that come up in life and to make adjustments in your plan as you walk along the way.

3} A Weekly Planning Session- This section gives you the opportunity to make a battle plan for the week...this will change more often than monthly and yearly...and I LOVE the focus on following the Lord's leading and committing your way to Him...weekly, you are reminded to ask for direction and to record His faithfulness to you and your children...these moments can get lost and often, all we can see are our failures. We have a saying in our house..."God cares about work pants." To us, this reminds us that there is nothing too small for His notice and help on, IF we think of asking and then notice when He provides that much needed help...

Then there is a weekly conference and review time set aside with each child to lay out their plan, make sure they understand the expectation, receive feedback from them and then, at the end of the week, make them accountable as you review their planner and see if they completed their work. This part is actually MORE NECESSARY than you would think...at least in our home...we are not so good with deadlines...I mean, I cannot tell you how many times I have assigned something...and said...it is due next week. Next week comes...and I ask, "Is it done?" No is the response...ok...then turn it in on Monday...and on it goes until I forget all about it...and we are not doing any favors there...

At the end of the HOW TO GUIDE, there are some examples of the pages, broken down into the planning sessions, so you can see how they are actually used and what you should be doing on it if that is not clear from the directions. Personally, I loved seeing these pages.

Then, it is time to begin. I started by mapping out my year...we school year round, but sort of stick to the September-August year...I sketched out all the things we do that repeat themselves...I may need to add to this page monthly to include those things that pop up. One aspect I really LOVED about this page is that each day of the week is lined up from month to month...so, say you have AWANA on Wednesdays...You can group those together straight across the page

Then you come to character and academic goals for each child. I did not fully complete this section as I did not have the time to sit and pray and meditate on this. I loved this section though and look forward to mapping that out for our next school year. I really love the inclusion of character goals...it is amazing how when you actually focus on a specific area with your child and work on that how much progress is made and what a foundation that lays for your child.

Then there is a prayer list and resource page for the year, followed by the monthly pages...this is an undated calendar (Which I don't love, but see the need for). The calendar pages have a verse, an inspirational quote, and room for some notes on the side and bottom of the page. I really wish that the weekly sheets were placed in between the monthly pages. It was a bit of a hassle to flip back and forth between the monthly and weekly pages.

The first two weekly pages give you space to give your plan of attack, things to focus on, a FIGHTER verse (REALLY LOVED THAT!!!). a prayer list, a space to be intentional with outreach or hospitality, several lines to record memorable moments/achievements and a place to record evidences of God's Grace...again, these will be forgotten over time if we do not record them and it may feel like we are all alone, no one cares, we have failed, etc. Reading back over those pages, you will see God's hand throughout the year and the ways He has met you right where you are and be greatly encouraged. There are suggestions of things to record in those last two spaces...so for memorable moments, a couple of the suggestions would be finished projects and family funnies.

The next two pages are the weekly lesson plan pages...There is room for 6 students and you can line them up by day or subject in any way that works best for you...I only have three students right now, so I used the extra spaces for me...things I needed to remember, dinner plans, etc. There is a space on the side for notes, appointments or supplies needed. If you have extra spaces on this page, you can block out time for your littles too! You can look at it a little closer up here

Moving on to the two planners your children can use, first, there is The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens. It is a bit smaller than The Ultimate Planner, making it very user friendly for your child. It has a cool cover that appeals to teenagers. Inside, there are a few pages for your teen to record some info about themselves, which would be fun to look back on after a few years. Then, there are first and second semester grids to map out the year, undated calendar pages and then the weekly lesson plans. The weekly lesson plans have room for 5 subjects and include a spot for Saturdays and Sundays, which is helpful for things you need to keep track of. These pages have a small spot for notes, assignment due dates, appointments and work schedule, a check off for devotions, a doodle spot, a think pad and a SAT vocabulary word. Another nice touch for those who have to keep track of hours are some circles divided into quarters. This gives you an easy spot to keep track of that. At the end of the daily lesson plans, is a place to record grades, a reading log, activity log, a credit tracker and a High School Record form so you can compile all your grades and important test scores in one place. At the end of the planner, you have some helpful information such as grammar, math, science, history and scholarship helps. It might be beneficial to make looking through this section an assignment, because there is just SO MUCH useful information here. This planner also has a four year calendar (Which has a pocket on the front part) and some fun stickers your teen can use to mark important dates on their calendar. The covers are the same flexible plastic material as The Ultimate Planner and there is a small plastic ruler just inside the front cover.

The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students is very similar to the teen planner, but a little more simple for younger users. First, the spiral binding glows in the dark...now what younger student would NOT think that was just beyond cool. When I told my daughter, she ran to check it out. The student planner has an All About Me section, Study Smart Student Toolkit, Monthly undated calendar pages, weekly lesson plan sheets (which has a verse, a trivia question and a Quiet Time check off), Grade Log Page, Reading list, Activity Log pages, and the school helps pages like the teen planner. The colors are fun and bright and this planner is perfect for guiding your child to more independent learning, which IS the goal of both student planners.

What we thought:
We all LOVED our planners, but we were not completely successful in keeping them current and in the weekly accountability check ups. It is a very busy season in our lives, and we just needed to ease into them. I really loved all of the focus on praying through our year, months, weeks and days, asking God for guidance and setting up those fighter verses and memorial stones so that we would remember the Lord's faithfulness and how far we had come. We will continue purchasing these planners...there was that much that was valuable for us. I can also see that I really needed to sit down more with my daughter and show her what to do. I assumed, because of all the lesson plans she has been exposed to over the years, that she knew what to do...but I found out (Right before I sat down to write this review) that she really did not fully understand what to do...so back to the drawing board for us!


Christephi S said...

Great review! I, like several others, would like to have the months interspersed between the weeks. But to make the most of what I do have, I put a reposition-able sticky tab on the current month and the current week. Then I just move it over as we move into a new week or month. It makes the flipping back and forth a little less odious. :-)

Anonymous said...

Great review! Oh,the busyness of life....

Christephi S said...

I love your review! I also felt a bit like celebrating when Debra "told" me to go take a planning retreat. If only that would actually work out… :-)