*Disclosure: I received a free Homeschool Planet membership for review purposes and am being compensated for my time. I am not required to give a positive review. As always, I am sharing my honest opinion with you. This post contains affiliate links.
I am a pencil and paper kind of girl. I have a stack of yellow notepads filled with lists and ideas. I eventually need to implement those ideas however, and that’s where I make the switch to online planning tools. I use these four online planning tools to keep our homeschool humming.
Online Homechool Planner
This is my first year to use Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op and I can already tell it is going to be a game changer! What usually takes me a couple hours to accomplish was done in under 30 minutes with this online planner.
I take a couple of days each summer to loosely plan out our entire year. I’ve learned to number our weeks instead of date them; it’s easy to shift our schedule in case of something like illness without messing up the calendar. It can get a bit frustrating because it never fails that I skip a day when planning out lessons. And of course I don’t notice until I’ve finished. Break out the eraser. *sigh*
My very favorite feature of Homeschool Planet is that I can effortlessly rearrange my plans. Skip a day during my planning session? I can simply pop in an extra day wherever I want. Miss a couple of days due to sickness? I can choose to shift all assignments by two days. There is also a feature that allows me to copy assignments from one child to another. This is very handy when scheduling something like Math, where everyone is doing the same lesson number on the same day.
The planner has two parts – scheduled and unscheduled. I plug our group work into the scheduled section, and each child’s independent work into the unscheduled. I am able to add check boxes to the assignments so we can easily keep track of finished work.
The pic above is the calendar view. There is also a planner view that creates an assignment list for each child. I can then email or text the assignments, or print them out for my child to use as a checklist for the day or week. It should be a cinch at the end of the year to print out a copy for our portfolio evaluation.
Homeschool Planet has a FREE 30-Day Trial if you would like to play around with all of the features. I am not normally one to encourage others to spend money on extras (I have a website about homeschooling for free!), but I am making an exception for this planner.
IF you have the room in your budget, I believe it will make a big difference in organizing your school year and keeping it running smoothly. It will be particularly helpful for those of you homeschooling several kiddos.
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Detailed Homeschool Planning
Since I like to piece together my own curriculum plan for many of our subjects, I need a place to map out the resources I want to utilize. I use Evernote to organize all of the links to worksheets, articles, and videos for the year. I add in checkboxes by each link and check them off as I assign them.
I also have a note in my Evernote School Planning notebook for pages to be printed. I compile the list during the summer as I’m planning, then spend a day or two printing. All the links & files are on one page so I don’t have to waste time hunting it all down when I’m ready to print.
I tried using Evernote to send weekly assignments to my teens, but it proved a bit tricky because it is very easy to accidentally erase lines when trying to click on them. I’ll stick to using it as a brainstorming tool for now.
Seasons & Holidays
Pinterest is hands-down the best way to save seasonal and holiday ideas for our homeschool. The key to using it efficiently is to have very specific boards. You don’t want to have to wade through one huge Holiday board each month.
I have a homeschool AND a regular board for each holiday season. My homeschool boards are for crafts and lesson plans that I want to use during school hours. My regular boards are for recipes, home decor, and traditions.
Take a look at my Pinterest boards to get a better idea how I use them. The holiday boards are about halfway down. You will notice that I also have boards for each subject – these are for saving ideas that catch my eye but may or may not be used.
Brainstorming the Year
Sometimes I come across a website or curriculum that I might want to use for the next school year, or even further down the road. I create a LiveBinder for each school year, make a tab across the top for each subject, and save the webpage of interest.
I have a LiveBinder button in my toolbar that allows me to easily add a site to one of my online binders. One thing I like about them is that I can view all of the webpages inside the binder without having to load new pages. It’s very easy to flip through each summer to see if there is something I want to use.
I made my 2012-2013 binder public so you can get an idea how it works. It is also a great way to organize recipes or holiday ideas if you are not a big fan of Pinterest.
Use What Works
Each of these online homeschool planning tools has a time and place in my year. I’ve tried many others and these are the ones that work for me, but that doesn’t mean they will all work for you. Give them a try and see!
I am not an expert in most of the tools – I spend quite a bit of time searching through the help sections. I will be glad to answer questions about them if I can! Just leave a comment below.
What online tools do you use to organize your homeschool?