I interrupt our regularly scheduled do-nothing-related-to-school summer routine to bring you an important service announcement. Namely, homeschool planning. I know. Those voices in my head again. This time it’s like the music from the movie, Jaws. Homeschool starts in August at our house. The shark is coming to get me.
You need something to help calm the chaos of curriculum. If you use just one curriculum that comes with its own set of daily instructions, you can skip this. I’m not talking to you. I, on the other hand, am a little schizophrenic when it comes to curriculum. We use Abeka for language arts, MathUSee for math (obviously), a smidge of Mystery of History, and a smattering of various other programs for other subjects.
I may also be looking at busting some things up this year. If graduating a child does anything for you, it assures you that everything you thought was perfect was not. My oldest, aka guinea pig, is quite capable, but I’m seeing where I could have done things differently to help her overcome some struggles and fill in some gaps. But if I re-schooled her five more times, I’d probably think the same thing. It’s not possible to be perfect. But the fact that I have a delightfully funny, polite, kind, and loyal young adult full of common sense (mostly) with a desire to do great things is what I’ll call a win.
So, when you think you’ll never cover it all, don’t fret. You won’t. And you’re not failing. Life has a way of filling in gaps, one way or another.
Anyway, back to homeschool planning. I have a Ninja tool that I have been using for probably eight years or so. You put in all your curriculum plans, and it spits out a daily schedule to follow. Now, what makes this all the more fantabulous is that you can re-use the plans for subsequent children, copy to include additional children, and reschedule when your weeks and months somehow do not result in completed assignments. So, I enter curriculum plans once and never have to write them down again. For FIVE children! Hallelujah!
Do you have any idea how much time this saves me? While I might initially spend several hours per subject to set up daily tasks for the school year, with the next child I will only spend 30 minutes rescheduling what is already entered.
Of course, I often change the plans, but again, it’s a matter of retyping my notes. NO erasing. NO trying to remember how I did it last time. Oh. My. Word. I can enter it and forget it. Which is good, because I’ll forget it no matter what.
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What is this brilliant piece of wonderfulness, you ask? Homeschool Tracker. The program was created in 2002 as a program to help with homeschool planning and record keeping. I originally started using it as a free desktop program. It worked well enough for my young children, at that time. But once we got to high school, I bought the paid version. Not only does it print out a daily task report for who does what in each subject, but it also tracks grades and creates report cards and transcripts.
The paid version is web-based, which means you access it through a Internet browser, such as Chrome. You can login from any computer.
It is super easy to use. I’m not saying there aren’t some quirks to making sure you have everything entered and scheduled correctly, but that’s normal for using a database program. What comes out is only as good as how it was put in. To help the new user get up to speed, Homeschool Tracker has training videos. Their frequently asked questions page covers a number of common questions and problems, and their technical support is responsive to those who need something more in depth.
Homeschool Tracker has three subscription choices. A monthly charge of $8 is good if you want to test drive it without a long-term commitment. The yearly subscription is $65, a savings of $31 over the monthly charge. I opted for the two year subscription of $119 for a total savings of $73. I don’t mind paying for months we’re not schooling, like during the summer, because I still have access to my data and can plan for the upcoming year as I have time, instead of cramming it in the week before we start.
Okay, so I still do some cramming, but I also set aside time during the summer to plan for special projects. And since so much is re-used, the cramming isn’t stressful. I’m only scheduling the already-entered lesson plans. Again, so much relief.
If you’re a homeschooling-freaky mama, like me, check out Homeschool Tracker to make your homeschool planning for the upcoming school year a breeze. It will change your life.
What Ninja homeschooling hacks do you have? Please share in the comments. We can all use fresh ideas.
P.S. If you don’t homeschool, I bet you know someone who does. We’re, like, everywhere these days. Share the post with them, and they’ll thank you forever.