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There have been a lot of changes that we have in term of our homeschooling planning. In the first year of our homeschooling, I use paper and pen to plan the lessons for two of my children since it was the only method that I could think about. I almost burnt out to find myself shifting the schedule here and about. In addition, I had to bring the heavy binder anywhere and anytime I had to modify the schedule. It was really a very hard time for me.
Next, I use spreadsheets and google drive to keep my lesson plans paperless and portable. Unfortunately, it still didn't work for me since the typing and rescheduling still took a long time that I could not afford. Since then, I began to find out which electronic homeschooling planners that work for us. We have tried some alternatives for electronic homeschooling planners. Many of them didn't really work for us. Actually there are still some other products in between that I didn't mention. We are very picky in choosing electronic homeschooling planners, especially the online homeschooling planner since we want the planner to be a useful and practical tool instead of to be our boss in homeschooling our children.
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After quite a long journey to choose the best electronic homeschooling planner, we have a chance to use the online homeschooling planner, Homeschool Planet. I received Homeschool Planet for free and was compensated for my time. However, all opinions stated here are 100 percent mine, and I was not required to post a positive review.
Here are our criteria in choosing electronic homeschooling planners:
The Clear Instruction and Operation
Don't ask me learn too long since I have already got a lot of things to do. For a couple of time, I tried some electronic homeschooling planner and it ended up with a series of instruction that forced me to spend more time in front of the computer to comprehend the scheduling steps. I had to do that since I was still no used to it and I could not get what I thought great before I purchased the program.. It was very difficult to adapt to the system. The weird thing was that I didn't feel much clearer, but I thought that I was getting more confused since all of the features revealed one by one. Since then, the clear instruction and operation are the most important criteria for me.
The Ability to Auto Reschedule
There are a lot of electronic homeschooling planners that look beautifully designed. Unfortunately, a planner should not just look beautiful since there are a lot of times when children cannot do the things planned. There might be some emergency or obstacle during the schedule of your homeschooling year. Of course, we cannot avoid this accidental matter. We should not be slaves to our planners, but we need to be flexible with the tweaks in the planner.
Can yo imagine what happen when I used the paper and pencil planner? I could not plan for longer duration to avoid a lot of typos or revisions. Fixing the schedule back on the right time took a long time with the paper and pencil planning. Once, I used spreadsheets, I still needed a lot of time to shift the schedule backward. Therefore, the ability to auto re-schedule in the electronic homeschooling planners is an ultimate important feature for me. The auto re-schedule feature, we don't need to shift the cells backward and forward. The system will do it for you automatically.
The Bulk Scheduling Ability
We also came across an electronic homeschooling planner that don't have the bulk scheduling ability. It means that we have to type or to copy-paste the lessons for each subject with the resource manually or one by one. I just find that it is just the same with using the manual spreadsheets. Typing the lessons one by one manually is very tiring.
Electronic homeschooling planners with the bulk scheduling ability are very helpful to set the pattern of the lesson as well usually. For example, if you have a unit of language lessons with your children, you usually will have a pattern to work. For example, you might want to do reading and spelling every day, writing twice a week, and grammar twice a week. If you use the paper and pencil or manual spreadsheets, you will have to write or put code one by one, for each of the lessons. The bulk scheduling feature will help us to put the patterns in the schedule automatically and we just need to modify the details. It will definitely shorten my screen time arranging the schedules.
The Ability to Copy and Re-Use Schedules
This feature will be very useful when you have several children to schedule. To make a set of schedule for the younger siblings, you will just need to copy what his or her brothers have done in the previous year. We just need to tweak here and there without retyping the whole schedule. Can you imagine when you have seven children that need to be scheduled? Without this facility, you would have to retype the schedule. If you use the manual spreadsheets, you need to copy and paste week by week to match the current year. That means you need to work seven times. In that condition, planning will just make everything worst instead of helping.
The ability to copy and reuse the old schedule to apply in the recent year will make planning feel helpful rather than adding more work for you.
The Facility to Prompt and to Track Grades, Attendance, and Reports
Planning is not the most important thing in the homeschooling administration. A real and clear result of the learning process is often neglected by many learners. In facts, learners can improve their performance by knowing their achievements. In addition, some government requires reports on attendance and achievements of homeschooled children. When we used the pen and paper or the manual spreadsheets, we didn't record consistently since we often forget and neglect this process. We might have been too tired catching and finishing the schedule in the planners.
Many electronic homeschooling planners have the facility to make reports on grades, attendance, and achievement. There are only a few of them that prompt us to check and fill in the grades of the scores so that we won't forget or neglect them. Even some electronic homeschooling planners don't have the facility. Therefore, please check for this feature when you want to sign up or purchase the planners. You might have separated subscription for this feature.
The Clear, Simple, and Interesting Printed Layout
Some people love paperless planners, but we don't. We find that documentation will also make memory and the printed report will be something visible and real to remind us to the time. Some electronic homeschooling planners don't have the ability to print while it is impossible for us to bring the gadget anytime and anywhere we learn. It will make us forget about the plan easily. Other electronic homeschooling planners can be printed with either too big letter size that make us spend too much paper while other planners have too much color blocks in the printed layout that make us spend too much ink.
The clear, simple, and interesting printed layout might be too subjective as a criteria. However, printed layout with clear and ink-safe display will help us to follow the planner more easily without breaking our budget.
The Flexible and Safe Online Access
We have tried some offline and online electronic homeschooling planners. There are are some pros and cons.
Offline Electronic Homeschooling Planners
- Pro: We find that the offline one is safer in one way since it doesn't depend on the internet access that might be crashed.
- Con: We have to be in the same computer to access our planner and when there is a problem with the storage, we will also loose our data.
We have ever tried some synchronization with cloud storage, but it took some time to connect and synch the data for the planner.
Online Electronic Homeschooling Planners
- Pro: We can access the planner anywhere and anytime we like as long as there is the internet connection. We don't depend on one gadget for an access.
- Con: We cannot get any backup for the data and there is some risk to loose the data.
We decide to choose the online electronic homeschooling planners as it is more flexible to access. However, we look for:
- a planner that is fast to access (so we don't need to wait long for editing)
- a planner that has safe storage (it is usually shown by the customer service)
Mobile and Online Version Availability
This is an important feature for the availability of more and more sophisticated mobile gadget. We don't always bring a pen and the printed planner. We also don't sit in front of the computer all of the time. What we can bring is usually the mobile phone. The availability of mobile and online version of the electronic homeschooling planner will be more supportive for us since we can make change using any gadget we have without having to start the computer. In addition, the change or revision in the gadget will also have some effect to the planner.
The Ability to Handle Multiple Children on A Single Place
If you homeschool a single child, this feature will not be important for you. On the other hand, the more children you have you will feel that this feature is a must have. It affects the payment and efficiency. One price payment for all children will be the best choice for us. We can handle all of their schedule in one place without having to log in and log out from the site. That is quite ideal. Can you imagine having to sign in and out from one child to another child. It will take more time and more risk to loose the data.
In addition, a more personal touch to each child will be a plus feature. It is better if we choose an electronic homeschooling planner that has some schedule for individual extra activities, field trips, and more personal schedule.
How does Homeschool Planet meet our criteria?
- It doesn't take a long time for me to learn about using the Homeschool Planet. Just by watching the short video, I could operate the online homeschooling planner easily.
- Homeschool Planet has an auto reschedule feature so I don't need to spend a lot of time shifting the schedule we have whenever we cannot meet the assignment.
- I can input assignment according to the patterns in a bulk at once. It saves my time and energy a lot.
- I have three children and two of them have the same lessons for a couple of subjects. I can copy some lessons from one child and use it to the other child.
- I never forget to input the scores or grades of my children whenever it is required since Homeschool Planet always gives me a prompt when the due date finishes.
- Homeschool Planet really save my paper and ink without looking boring for us. It has options to use economical or coloring print. I print the schedule once in a week for every child. They use it to control their learning without any force.
- Homeschool Planet is an online homeschooling planner that can be access fast. Any updates that can make obstacle to the online access takes brief time and it is always notified.
- We can access Homeschool Planet with our tablet and mobile phone easily, anywhere and anytime.
- Homeschool Planet can manage the extra activities individually.
Overall, We really enjoy using the Homeschool Planet as our online homeschooling planner and I would recommend the Homeschool Planet online homeschool planner to my homeschooling friends. There is a 30 days FREE Trial for anyone interested to try using Homeschool Planet.
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