For the past eleven years I have been the homeschool coordinator of my county. One of the things I recommend to new homeschoolers – and ANY homeschool family – is a good teacher’s planner/record keeping system. Whether it’s on hard copy in a notebook or a CDRom for your computer, it is one of the most important tools a homeschool mom can own.
In states where one has to keep records of every little thing, a planner fits the bill; in states that permit you to have a choice as to how to assess your children and the assessor needs to see all that your students have done throughout the whole school year – every book read, every field trip taken, every DVD watched, every CDRom and learning resource used – a lesson planner fits the bill. When your family uses tons of different books and takes several field trips through the school year, you can’t exactly re-check 100+ books and plop them in your assessor’s lap and then take her on a whirlwind drive to every field trip destination you’ve gone to!
But…you CAN show them your complete and thorough records from your well-used lesson planner.
If you prefer an inter-active planner for use on your computer, Homeschool Tracker can be a real life-saver! It is SO easy to set up – just up-load it onto your computer and go. It is SO easy to follow – just click on a tab and add, subtract or read whatever you need to know.
There are 9 tabs/sections to work with: Main Menu, Overview, Assignments, Attendance, Reading Log, Field Trips, Daily journal, Maintenance and Reports.
Main Menu: This is the “Title Page.” This is where your school’s name and public information is shown; plus your school motto (Ours is: “I can do ALL things through CHRIST Who strengthens me!”) and a quick look at your children’s accumulative school days are shown as “sick,” “present,” “hours” and “Average.” Not every state, including mine, must account for hours or attendance, but it is always nice to have. One never knows when things might change in regard to your state law, and it is always nice to have your records on-hand SHOULD a problem arise.
Overview: This is a handy page. For each student you can look over the accumulation of their work.
The Points show actual grade/possible grade.
Assignments: I have to tell you, maybe it’s just me, but this was the hardest part for me to figure out – and it’s JUST a calendar!! Once I figured out that I had to set up the calendar to show the dates for our school
year, it was easy. I had begun to think that I had to go get one of my teenagers to show ME how to figure this out! But, the Lord is good and I began to put it all together. Actually this was one of the most fun sections to do after I got the hang of it. On this calendar you can show whether your child was “present,” “sick;” that this was a “holiday” or that the day was designated as “holiday/present.”
Reading Log: Here you can list: Student/Resource/Type/Started/Finished. If you are like our household and use LOTS of books and other resources, this can be one of the most gratifying pages. It is incredible to look back and see all that was read and used throughout your school year. Assessors LOVE those lists!
Field Trips: This section includes: Trip Date/Time Spent/Subject/Description (locati
on). The only thing I think I would change about this would be a place to record things that were accomplished or objectives learned at each location.
Daily Journal: This is in the teacher’s section, but I give my students access to it. On those days when one student’s activities take your time away from the others – OR – if some of your other students are in their Jr. high or Sr. high school years and are more independent workers – you may leave notes to them, or yourself, concerning lessons that need more a
ttention or work they can simply do on their own. Or use it as a reminder that you will need to find a map of China for this Friday. This is a very useful “free” page and we can make it what we want!
Maintenance: Just as the title suggests, this is the place where you can add/enter/delete any type of information. Sections covered are: Activities/Resources/Resource Types/School Info/School Years/Students/Subjects/Terms.
Reports: Here is the handy-dandy page that allows you to print off any of the reports for the previously mentioned sections that you may need to have a hard copy of. If you really wanted, you could make your own hard copy l
esson planner from the printed pages.
Over all, this is a very easy record-keeping system. It would be a great system to use to teach your students, at any age, how to record their own work. This could even be included as an on-going homeschool assignment if you are working with them on computer skills or record keeping; it’s easy enough that they could manage their own records FOR YOU!
Tried and True – The Homeschooler’s Journal
But then there are those of us who do not have access to a computer or who simply prefer to have something tangible in their hands. For that family, you may be interested in The Homeschooler’s Journal and The Homeschooler’s High School Journal, both by Ferg N’ Us.
The Homeschooler’s Journal is the blessedly simple planner that you would want to use for grade school ages up to Jr. High level. This planner is s
pecifically made with the homeschool family in mind and is set up for 200 days of school with a subject log based on 7-day weeks. This way, you can include weekend activities on your planner. This planner has all you need within its spiral-bound pages. There are calendars for the previous year, this year and coming year; great for long-term planning. There are so many places to help you keep your planning and moments of brain-storming recorded; this planner has pages for field trips, a check-off list of requirements, resource pages and semester objectives, tracking for all those books, CDRoms and videos/DVDs that you have used throughout the year.
The Homeschooler’s High School Journal was my best friend for many years. Again, a blessedly simple planner, but this one is geared toward the special record-keeping that we need to do for our high schoolers.
As before, they have given us calendars in the span of several years; then a Linear Schedule of Home Schooling Events. This is great if your children are involved in sports, music, clubs, service projects or other extra-curricular activities; the whole school year is spread out on two pages for your perusal.
One of the most helpful parts of the whole planner, to me, is the page of Yearly Requirements. This page is laid out for all four high school years (Freshman through Senior) across the top, with the subjects listed down the left-hand side (English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts & Humanities, Computer Science/Business, and two elective areas). On this one page I can keep track of (depending on my child’s high school year) what my child has completed and, if I pre-plan, what they need to complete by graduation! There are also spaces to keep track of total credits earned. Speaking of credits…when my oldest (a homeschool graduate of 2006!) began her high school years, one of the questions I had was “how do I determine how many credits to assign to each subject?” Once again, this planner gave me the answer: they suggest 1= 1 Year, ½ = ½ year. Gee, who knew it was THAT easy?! I extended that for our own school to include a subject done for on
e quarter (a short unit study or project) or one day a week (gym/p.e. or band/music or dance) to receive ¼ credit.
There are other great sections – besides the 200 days’ worth of course work pages. One is the “Lending and Borrowing Resource List.” How many times has someone borrowed a book from you and just when you need it, it’s nowhere to be found and you can’t think of who you gave it to. Problem solved here.
A handy page to have before you run off to your state’s homeschool convention, or make that on-line order at TOS’s Homeschool Store, is the “Reso
urce List” page. There’s even a column to keep track of your costs. Then there’s the “Objectives and Resources” page for those long-range research projects.
For those of you who live in a state that requires you to keep track of attendance, Ferg N’ Us has covered that for you, too. Also, included on each regular journal page is a section where you can keep track of hours spent on each subject, denoted by quarter-hour marks.
Two of our most used sections were the “Field Trip Log” and the “Educational Supplements” tracker. The Field Trip Log, as you might assume, has space to record where you went, the host’s name, contact/ph
one info, date, and objectives of the trip. By the end of the year you will have a diary of memories and fun! Anyone who still thinks that homeschoolers are stuck at home needs to have a look at my planner! Another most-used section of our planner is the Educational Supplements pages. I am a firm believer in recording everything that can remotely be deemed as having educational value, including books we read, books on tape, videos/DVDs, learning games, activities with educational value which take place while on vacation and some television. The Educational Supplements pages are where we record those things. There is a section for the date, Title/Web Site Address, Author/Composer/Date Due/Classification. The Classification section is great because you can record whether your supplement was a book, audio, video, music, from the internet and if it was non-fiction, fiction, biography or reference. On this I wish they would have added T.V. (which we added ourselves) as our students are required to watch such things as the Pr
esident’s State of the Union Address and certain programs dealing with history or historical figures.
The Crème de la Crème! The Schoolhouse Planner!
The Old Schoolhouse magazine’s publishers have just released one of the most helpful resources I’ve ever used! Parents, if I had had this planner 16 years ago, when I first began homeschooling, I would never have had to use anything else.
Right off the bat, the most unique thing about The Schoolhouse Planner is that it is an e-book. It’s 247 pages of unique and much-needed help! This planner also contains some of the most aesthetically pleasing, page designs I’ve seen. Easy on the eyes to read and encouraging to use.
It’s so exciting to see the things that are included in this planner that are nowhere to be found in any others. Articles by experienced homeschoolers! Calendars! Recipes! Weblinks! Oh my!
Not only does this planner begin with a calendar, but each month has a theme AND recipes to try during those months! To give a little splash to each month of the planner, each month has a theme along with an article by a note-worthy homeschooler AND many weblinks and learning aids to go along with it! August’s them is “Celebrate” along with a great article by Martha Greene on “Lessons Learned Around the Table,” then on to several weblinks for related resources, along with recipes for Cheeseburger Pie and Tropical Chicken Dinner; December’s theme is Science with a presentation of the Periodic Table and an article on “Solving Your Science Struggles,” next are all those weblinks for related resources and then yummy recipes for Mild and Savory Black Bean Chili and Easy Chicken Casserole. Wow! Won’t those dishes be great on a cold winter’s night? April’s theme is “The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World AND of the Modern World.” This month’s article has great advice for “Chore Training Tips,” more weblinks and recipes for Homemade Cornbread and Linnie’s Six-in-One Casserole! All of the recipes in the Schoolhouse Planner are easy enough anyone in the family to make, even for a younger child to do with just a little help from mom or an older sibling and will be enjoyed by your whole family. As many of you who read The Lesson Planner on a regular basis know, I am a big proponent of learning life skills; these recipes will be just the thing to add to your home ec or life skills assignments!
Now, just so you know…we have only touched the surface of what’s in this exciting planner! This planner is jam-packed with Homeschool Forms and complete instructions as to how to use them. Here’s a peek at just SOME of the planner pages included: Yearly Goals, 12-Year Planner Pages, Course of Study, Educational Objectives, End-of-Year Evaluation Form, End of Year Report Card, Yearly Grades, Test Score Recording Sheet, High School Hours Tracking Log, Weekly Planning Pages, Week-at-a-Glance, Progress Report Sheets, Bible Memory Record, Audio/Video Log, Books Read Log, Sheets to record Crafts and Field Trips, Nature Journal sheets, Unit Study Form, Unschooling Record Form, Co-op Information Page, Support Group Information Page, Outside Lessons Page for so many of us who have kiddos taking piano, dance, martial arts, etc. This is a good way to remind ourselves that those things count for school, too!
And that’s not all that in this planner, believe me, there’s MORE!
There are chore charts (for all ages), there are pages for all your house-hold information including: Our Budget, Personal Financial Inventory (mortgage, credit cards, phone, internet, life and disability insurance tracker, car and home info, checking and savings account info, Christmas Club, etc.); Gift Wish List (so those loving grandparents will know the correct sizes of each child!), Gift Budget, Prayer Journal, Bible Reading Schedule, important Dates to Remember, Garden Planning Checklist (don’t forget to count gardening for school credit!), Loaned/Barrowed List, Our Pet’s Health Log, an Address Book…and so much more! Here’s an idea – while teaching your students about finances, budgeting, house-hold maintenance and such, you can just run off these pages for them to use.
Here’s something else that makes this really special. Since this is an e-book you merely print off only the pages you need, when you need them. Isn’t that great? No worrying about losing the master copy of the page you need, because you will simply go to your computer and print off the page you want. No carrying around a bulky planner with pages not only waiting to be used but waiting to be ripped or spilled on, because you simply go to your computer and print exactly how many you will need.
There will never be any record you can’t find for your assessor or for your own personal reminder. This planner has it all! My only regret is that we had not had this one around sooner.
As a mom who is going into our 16th year of homeschooling, and as an assessor, a good lesson planner can be a lifesaver; a secure, concise place to manage your records and preserve school memories. Whether your needs are simple or your want to use one product for all of your children, one of these products will fit your every need and the lifestyle of your family.
Where to find:
~ Homeschool Tracker: www.homeschooltracker.com
~ The Homeschooler’s Journal and The Homeschooler’s High School Journal: www.fergnusservices.com
Ferg N’ Us Services
P.O. Box 350
Richville, NY 13681
Customer Service: 1-800-CHRISTIAN® (1-800-247-4784)
~ The Schoolhouse Planner is available through The Schoolhouse Store: http://www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/index.php Always FREE shipping.
Blessings from Ohio...Kim<><