Hey, Mama! Schoolhouse Planner {Review}

I’m just coming off a rather disorganized and less-than-fruitful season. As much as I l-o-v-e the pregnancy and newborn season, it is admittedly not a productive season. While it is more than okay and in reality advisable to let many things go during that time, there comes a point where a Mama has to pick those things back up. That point has come and we need to get organized again. I’ve got in my hands a simple little tool which I hope will help out with that process.

The Old Schoolhouse┬« has released its very popular Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year by author Gena Suarez. It is, in fact, so popular that as of this writing they are sold out of 98% of their printed planners, and no more will be printed, although the digital are unlimited, so rest easy if you’re a PIY (Print It Yourself) kind of person.

A planner is a planner in some respects, so I’m not going to go into too much detail on the every-planner-has-this-because-that-is-what-makes-it-a-planner things, but I will list them and some teeny tiny descriptions:

  • 2019, 2020, 2021 full-page year-at-a-glance calendars
  • Monthly grid calendar (lots of space, two page spread, nice big squares, no holidays listed so it’s adaptable for any country)
  • Monthly “notes” pages (full-page per month)
  • Weekly subject planning pages for up to five children and seven subjects (two-page spread per week, undated for adaptability, the meat of the planner)

Personally, the space available on the above sections is what makes this planner functional for me. The monthly calendar section is ideal, because the months and notes are back to back. The weekly break-down follows in a separate section, so I do have to do a little flipping back, but not much. I always need to know where we’ll be in three months, five months, two and a half weeks, so this spread works best for me. Big picture here, details over there. That’s just me.

For many of you, it’s the extras that make a planner your personal non-breathing best friend. I’m not big on the extras anymore, because to me they’re just pages I have to get through to get to what I will actually use. But some of you are extras-lovers, so here is the smorgasbord of extras that Hey, Mama! offers:

  • Academic transcript guidance and page for one student for four years
  • Checklist of skills learned and courses studied
  • Devotionals (more on that below)
  • Planning pages for up to five children (see immediately below)

Each planning page section includes the following for each of five children

  • Two blank pages for notes
  • Curriculum planning page (subject, curriculum, vendor, grade level, price, contact–a very valuable page for someone like me who has curriculum notes and reminders everywhere! I’m not the only one who writes reminders on toilet paper and shower door steam, am I?)
  • Attendance chart (I stink at these.)
  • Book tracker with space for 20 books**
  • Yearly, first semester, and second semester goals pages (educational, spiritual, physical, personal talents, life skills, financial, relational)

The beauty of the printable version is that you can print off only what you will use, and as many of each page as you want. Even anti-printing me likes that idea.

One thing that makes Hey, Mama! different, besides the impeccable punctuation in the title of the planner, is the devotional at the beginning of each month. Because the monthly grids and the weekly grids are separate, there are two sets of devotionals. They offer brief bites of encouragement for homeschooling mamas who may not have time for a “full meal.”

I skipped over the goals pages, but then upon further study it occurred to me what a blessing it would be for each child to have personal goals, and what a help it would be to me to focus on those goals during that allotted time. I hate to use the over-used word “intentional,” but…intentional…it would be intentional, and, unless you’re talking about stealing someone’s chocolate, intentionality can be a very powerful and useful tool.

We did notice one little hiccup in the planner when the kids were writing in their birthdays (lest I not notice the hundreds of days of paper chain countdowns in the trailer). There are three dates mis-numbered in November, which is a super easy fix. It just so happens, however, that one of those days was our Eliana’s birthday. She wasn’t too happy to learn that she didn’t get a birthday this year.

It’s an easy fix.

Eliana has her birthday back!

It’s tough to find a planner that meets the needs of a roadschooler. Have you ever seen a planner that fits school around field trips? Ha ha! Neither have I. But here’s how I adjust using Hey, Mama!

I write in what I know ahead of time on the monthly grid calendars. That includes medical appointments when we’re near Appointment Central (the part of the country where we go for dentist, doctor, optometrist, orthodontist, and birthing). Birthdays, half birthdays, holidays, and other special days (like August 8 which is The Travel Bags Spaghetti and Meatballs Day) go on there as well. Performance bookings are added as soon as they’re confirmed. (First time here? We’re full-time traveling music missionaries.)

From there I can see where we’ll be and for how long. That gives me a visual so I can research what we can do in an area as well as plan travel dates with Steve for our Monday Morning Meeting. I can pencil in possibilities on the calendar, so I know about other considerations if other ideas or invitations come up. I can also use the notes section to write in the myriad of ideas I receive online and from people at our events, to remind me to check it out.

I can then see at a glance which days are blank or blank-ish or just for driving, so I know when we can fit in “normal” school, both on which days and during which blocks of time. I can also see when and where would be the best days for breaks, depending on where we are and whom we are with. Finally, I can see where we’ll be in advance to schedule college testing, as we have another child who has just entered that world.

Overall, I have high hopes for this planner. It is an excellent tool with very little that minimalist me doesn’t find useful. My only concern is–wait for it–me. A planner only works as well as the person planning. Ha. That’s discouraging. Maybe with a little effort, my little planner, and a few prayers from you sweet people, a smooth year could be a reality for us. Here’s to an organized year on the road with The Travel Bags!

To read normal homeschoolers’ thoughts on the planner, click here or on the banner below:

Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year {The Old Schoolhouse® Reviews}

You’ll enjoy following The Old Schoolhouse on social media. They offer a lot more than a planner, such as your entire homeschool curriculum ever! Cool beans, eh?

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