Keeping Track of Everything
If you’ve been homeschooling for any length of time, you pretty quickly realize that you need some way to keep track of everything you and your children are doing. Thankfully, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. There are several options for us homeschooling parents, both online and paper-based planners, and even a few mobile-friendly apps you can adapt to your needs.
I’ve used several different planners, organizers and systems over the years to keep track of our homeschooling efforts. Each has their pros and cons, and each fits a different season in life or personality better. Don’t feel bad if one system that someone else raves about doesn’t work for you. I switch constantly, from year to year, as our needs change and grow.
There are a few different online planning systems for homeschool. Some are strictly lesson based, and some include other options for tracking other parts of your life. Most of the ones I recommend are free to use, but there are a couple I’ve used that are subscription based.
This is a free, online-based lesson planner, available through any browser. You can add multiple students, multiple resources, and track from year to year. You can copy lessons from one student to the next, meaning that if you plan to use the same curriculum year over year, you really only have to plan it out once, and then just use the copy feature. Set up is a bit time-intensive, since it is a bit repetitive, but once it’s done, it’s a real time saver for future years. You can also track grades, attendance, holidays and sick days, and even the hours you’ve homeschooled, if that’s required for your jurisdiction reporting. It’s easy to generate transcripts and report cards too.
This is a free download you can use to track your lesson plans and students. It isn’t supported any more (as they have upgraded to a subscription online model) but it’s still very usable. It’s extremely user friendly, with it’s copy-across-days feature, and automatic page updater. You can generate lists to print with daily assignments, report cards and transcripts as well, with multiple students. The only con is that it isn’t usable across multiple devices, and if you happen to have a computer glitch that makes you lose files, well … there isn’t a way to back up your files very well.
This is a upgrade from the downloadable tracker above. It’s an online version, with all the same features as above, and more. What’s nice is that this program lets you plan out your lessons, without assigning them to dates, offering you just a bit more flexibility. You can then schedule out your year, or just a week at a time, depending on what your situation is. Pricing ranges from $8/mo to go month-to-month, to just $59 for the entire year.
This is a really nice, simple homeschool planner. You can track more than just your lesson plans but also your field trips and extracurricular activities with it. And it’s really easy to bump lessons from one day to the next, without having to double up or adjust all the way through the calendar. Customer service is extremely responsive as well, if you have any issues, and they welcome suggestions for improving. Pricing is minimal, starting at just $3/mo for 1 student, to a maximum of $7/mo for more than 5, making this one of the most affordable options!
From The Well Planned Gal, this is the online version of the popular paper planner The Well Planned Day. This software is more than just a homeschool lesson planner, but a family organizer. You can include all your lesson plans, extracurricular activities, household chores and meal plans, and even work schedules and events in your calendar, and offer user logins to multiple people. This means Mom, Dad and the older students in your home can all stay on the same page with what’s going on in the home. Pricing is about $65 for the year, but there’s a 30 day free trial, so you can get a feel for it before you buy.
Homeschool Buyer’s Coop developed the Homeschool Planet in response to demand for an all-in-one online planner for homeschool families. Like My Well Planned Day, Homeschool Planet tries to combine all your family’s needs into one, easy-to-use online application. This one will send out email digests and text message reminders to members of the family, as well as help you generate shopping lists for your meal planning. It’s very mobile friendly, and has the option for users in one family to send messages to each other using the software. Pricing begins at $6.95 per month (or yearly at $65) but they also offer a 30 day free trial.
There are several paper planners that I’ve also used over the years. Some are printable versions, meaning I can print off as many copies as I need, or only what I need, so there’s is some customization available. Some were already bound, and I bought shipped or picked up at a store or conference.
This has been a staple of the homeschooling community for years. The “Hey Mama” planner is well known for it’s wealth of calendars, planner forms, lists, helpful articles, checklists and other miscellaneous forms. It’s more than just a homeschool lesson planner; it’s a life planner. Price: $39
** Optional: check out one of the specialized versions. They have one for students (primary, intermediate and high school) and one for special education needs in addition to the regular one.
Donna Young is a well-known homeschool website for printables and planners. She offers a wealth of forms and lists to customize to create the perfect planner for you. You can plan weekly or by subject, plan out unit studies or journal your daily learning after the fact, or use her V Planner, the excel spreadsheet she developed to keep track of up to 4 children in one, at-a-glance, easy to use program. Subscription to the site, which includes access to all the planner forms as well as many other useful homeschooling forms and printables, starts at $25 for the year.
Bound paper planners:
The Well Planned Day:
This paper version of their software is the original Family Homeschool Planner. The publisher is a veteran homeschooling mom of 5, so she tried to include everything the busy mom could need to run her home and her homeschool. From gift registries to address books, to tear-away shopping lists, and of course the lesson planning forms themselves, it’s a beautiful yet functional planner. Price: ~$27
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner:
Debra Bell created the Ultimate Homeschool Planner as part of her Ultimate guides to homeschooling books. This lesson planner has room for up to 6 children, and includes 52 weeks of planning room. Price: ~$20-30, depending on sales. It’s also bought at Rainbow Resource, Christian Books, and Amazon, and your local homeschooling curriculum store or fair.
So many options
There are so many other homeschool planners out there. Check out CurrClick for more digital options, or your local educational resource store, (such as Staples) for a teacher’s plan book. You could even just use notebooks, loose paper, or an agenda from the dollar store.