And then it arrived - or rather they arrived.
The Ultimate Planning System I've been searching for my entire seven year homeschooling career:
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner - a planning system designed by Debra Bell
(Click here for a sample)
The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students
(Click here for a sample)
Recommended for Grades 4-8.
The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens.
(Click here for a sample)
Recommended for Grades 7-12.
Wow. Not only were they lovely - they came packaged with bubble wrap and the kittens immediately claimed the box for their own. I am a planner junkie - my kittens are box junkies. My kids are bubble wrap junkies. Everybody won with this one!
The main thing I appreciated about The Ultimate Homeschool Planner was that it walked me through learning to plan - step by step. It gave me a framework for teaching my boys to use their planners. It has taken longer for my boys to develop independent work habits than their peers for many reasons. Their prompt dependance started in public school and continued because we sort of backed into this homeschooling thing. I am not the most organized person myself - which is why I've searched high and low for the perfect planner - and have no clue how to start to teach the boys how to be independent. Thanks to the helpful instructions in The Ultimate Homeschool Planner I now have a plan.
(Many children on the autism spectrum or with ADD/HD have what are known as weak Executive Functioning skills. I did not realize that this problem of mine had a name until the boy's therapist explained this to me. I now understand how crucial it is to give them this skill set as it was a huge blow to my self esteem that I could never seem to get things done or organized. It's a reason - not an excuse. :) )
I liked the setting of goals - Character Goals and Academic Goals. That gave them - and me - something to strive for. Then Family Priorities - something I need to remind myself of constantly. It helps to have it written down - where I can see it and remind myself. The Resource List helps me to use the supplements I'd otherwise forget to use.
Then there were the monthly planner and the weekly planner pages. I get to see the big picture and then break it down week by week. The weekly planner starts out with focusing on the week to come as well as having space to write down Prayers, Bible Plan - including Fighter Verse, Hospitality/Outreach and a place to write down those moments I inevitably forget to write down - a light bulb moment - an achievement. It also helps me see where God is working with the Evidences of Grace section.
I liked them so much I ordered two more of The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students so that each boy would have their own. (We did go over the Teen Planner but I want to give the older two time to use the Daily Planner before I move them up to the Teen Planner. )
The first week I wrote their assignments in the planner - explaining why I did and how to use it. They were enthralled by all the information in the planners - the maps - the study notes. I had to get them to quit reading the information and go back to the school work on their lists!
The next week I had them write their own assignments in their planners. That didn't go very well because handwriting is a huge struggle for my guys. We type whenever possible. There were tears and frustration when they didn't write small enough or tidy enough to suit them.
The week after that I then met with each child - showed them their school work that I had written in The Ultimate Homeschool Planner and at their direction ordered their work in the way they chose. That went much smoother.
It took all three weeks to teach them to check their planners instead of asking me what they had to do next. They aren't quite there yet but I see that eventually they will automatically check their planners down the road.
I'm very confident that when they have filled these up then they will move to The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens which has the added bonus of keeping track of time spent on the subject, due dates, appointments and work schedules and devotion tracker. In the back of this planner it has a College Admissions Timeline and a High School Checklist that covers core coursework, recommended subjects and activities, experiences, tests and college entrance requirements in a checklist type format. There is a recommended reading list, how to for students to position themselves for scholarships and a list of books than can be helpful to a teen transitioning from teen to young adult.
My favorite things about all of the planners are:
Durable but spill resistant covers that can be wiped off if the need arises. I have one child that does not think to wash his hands after Doritos and this really helps. I can't tell you how often the cover comes off of anything spiral bound if it is simply a paper cover.
They are Dateless! Dated planners don't work as well for us as we have to have a flexible schedule between therapy, tutors, golf and Oldest's woodworking. I like the ability to go back and fill in the date later. Also we school year round and we are currently doing one subject a day (a weeks worth of lessons or immersion in one topic per day).
The Planners are visually appealing and not overwhelming. The colors are soft and not taking over the entire page.
The About Me and The Study Smart Student Toolkit. The About Me helps the student make the planner their own. The Study Smart Toolkit had helpful suggestions for the student and pictures. Anything visual is a help to my guys.
The Informational Lists. I also like the SAT vocabulary on the weekly pages of the Teen Planner and the Bible verses and trivia questions on the Student Planner. I'm a big fan of bite sized pieces of information.
No Attendance Sheet but a durable pocket in the front cover of the Ultimate Homeschool Planner. The State of NC requires a special attendance form and I have a convenient place to put it so I record school days as they happen.
The cost is more than most planners on the market but most planners don't do what this system does. One planner works with the other in a flowing way. They will be a must have in our homeschool budget until Youngest graduates in 2020!
To see what other team members had to say about these planners - because I personally don't think enough CAN be said - click here.