Olde School Went High Tech–My Experience With an Online Planner {Review}

You may be wondering why this die-hard pen-and-paper girl who can’t even figure out how to answer her phone is writing about an online planner–The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op gave us Travel Bags a one-year subscription to their online planner Homeschool Planet in exchange for this review. Also, I am legally obligated and ethically inclined to let you know that I am now an affiliate for The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op, so if you join up through my link and buy discounted curricula through them, I receive a”finder’s fee.” Now the government and my conscience can rest easy. 

Intro about us.

You know what? When I was first offered the opportunity to review an online planner, I said, “No way in a world where cheese curds and homemade chocolate exist will I waste one minute of my life struggling with an online planner.”

I use notebooks and pens for my planning. I use the word “use” lightly, because it’s so much work to write out everything every week, that I haven’t actually used anything in a while…like six months. That is what they call a truth bomb. Someone cool would have hashtagged that.

It took me about three hours to write out all the kids’ notebooks for a week. That’s a lot of time, people. And it’s stupid time. Stupid time is time used to stubbornly do a thing in a certain way when you could struggle through the learning curve and do something smarter that will 1) make you significantly more efficient, or 2) make you and the people around you significantly more joyful by spending that previously stupid time doing something fun together, like eating cheese curds or taking a walk…to the cheese curd factory.

(This seems like an appropriate time to tell you that this post is coming to you from Wisconsin, the Dairy State. Cheese on the brain!)

You’ll see why I’m singing a different tune about this particular online planner now, even though I haven’t yet mastered everything Homeschool Planet has to offer.

What is Homeschool Planet?

Homeschool Planet is an online planner provided by the good people at The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.

What is The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op? The Co-op is a discount homeschool curriculum resource center–they receive discounts due to the number of people who purchase, so you save beaucoup bucks. Plus you get “smart points” for buying certain items–those can be redeemed for cash or product. It’s free to join, and they have some very popular products at great discounts. They even have some freebies for members. Click here to join for free and for more info.

Back to the planner. I’m going to say this as simply as possible, and then I’ll get into some nitty-gritty. The easiest way to remember what Homeschool Planet is would be to remember my original misspelling of it as Homeschool Plan-It. 

It is an online planner that enables you to include homeschool, home life, shopping, work, sports, any other lists you want…. It pretty much includes anything you could possibly want to plan on a single planner in a single place. If IT exists in your life, IT can fit onto this planner. See–Homeschool Plan-It…Homeschool Planet. Whatever–it’s how I remember. I’m weird.

Now, the big stuff is coming up next, so don’t stop reading yet.

What can you expect?

This planner has numerous remarkable features, many of which I’m still learning about. Since this is my ramble, I’m going to tell you about some of the features of this planner that really sold me on Homeschool Planet:

Feature number 1: You can have your paper and eat it too! Say what?! Homeschool Planet meshes the online world with the pen-and-paper world. So you do all the work on the computer, and then you print out a lovely little piece of paper with your week’s (or day’s) schedule on it. I know!! I’m so excited about this that I broke the carnal rule of writers, which is never to use two exclamation marks in a row…or really even one. Yup, it’s that good.

Why does this matter to me? Because I don’t like to have to turn on a screen every time this ol’ brain needs a reminder of what’s next. Also, my kids can have their planners printed, because I definitely don’t want them popping on a screen ten times a day. Mean mommy.

Feature number 2: I can have school on Saturdays and not on Mondays! 

The planner is so customizable that you can schedule your week however you want. We have school Tuesday through Saturday, because, as music missionaries, our Sundays are super-duper busy and we are super-duper beat and super-duper thinking school is very unsuper-unduper come Monday morning. No problem. I tell Homeschool Planet that our week is Tuesday through Saturday, and it populates those days with my assignments and tasks.

You can also customize your entire year. You can eliminate pre-set holidays and even eliminate your own days. For us, that meant, naturally, that we eliminated school on all birthdays and half birthdays. The program lets you know how many school days you planned in your year, so you don’t accidentally get down to, say 95 school days by taking all the national food holidays off. It could happen.

Feature number 3: Oops. We forgot to do school today.

If an assignment is not completed or you, you know, kinda sorta totally forgot to do school, Homeschool Planet can move the assignment or activity to another day. You don’t have to rewrite it or retype it or re-do-anything to it! That was an epically big selling point for me.

For us it means this: we travel the country full-time and meet new people and have new experiences everywhere we go. So let’s say a family invites us over to dinner or a rancher wants us to come join in a cattle branding or a deer farmer wants us to come watch the fawn feeding or a cool couple takes us up into the mountains for a hike or the pastor’s kids come out to play. Let’s just say those things happen, because they do, except we couldn’t go to the cattle branding–boo.

What we say is, “Let’s do it!” And then our kids miss school that day.

What is that teaching your kids?! Yeah, good question.

I hope it’s teaching them to put people over preterites and the Pythagorean Theorem, but it could just be teaching them to put playing and prattling over p–,p–, p–, uhhhh, school. That’s really a post for another day. Point being this: Homeschool Planet will shift my schedule forward so I don’t have to redo everything. I love you Homeschool Planet. Have a cheese curd.

Other features that are cheese-curd worthy:

  • You can mesh schedules, so our personal schedule, school schedule and mission schedule can be together.
  • By selecting family members for each activity, you can type something once and it will appear on all or some of their schedules.
  • You can add lists for other aspects of your life, like shopping and to-doing.
  • You can connect anybody you want to receive updates and weekly or daily schedules, so my husband gets a message that shows the 5000 things my kids and I do each week…or that we’re supposed to do. It makes us look productive.
  • The program sends out emails to my students and me as often as I want with their daily or weekly expectations. I send my older girls their weekly lists, and I send my younglings weekly and daily lists, because every day they forget that they’re supposed to be in school.

There are so many features on here, that I have only tapped the surface. Please, if you are looking for something to help you out, check out the website and see some of the other perks Homeschool Planet has to offer. Your needs might be different from mine, and you might find something on there that makes you drop to your knees in gratitude and stop drowning your homeschool organization woes in cheese curds.

Homeschool Planet

Is this parent-heavy?

You do have to

  1. figure out how it works,
  2. set it up,
  3. follow through with your kids, and
  4. update it.

If you know of a planner that does that for you, well, I think that’s called not having kids. So, yes, you do have to be highly involved in the beginning. After that, much of the planning takes care of itself, as you noticed in the previous section.

I am a technidgit.

I am a technidgit, (which is a technological idiot, which my five-and-a-half-year-old says I’m not allowed to say, but it’s okay if it’s in parenthesis, because then it’s like whispering, which is okay if she can’t hear me, but not if she can.). In plain English, I’m not good with computers. My husband sees me coming when he’s working on the computer, tablet, phone, or anything else requiring electricity, and he immediately tenses up, loses a hair or two, and says, “Don’t touch anything!!!” That triple exclamation point was intentional.

I have decided that that (and my current cheese curd obsession) is my personal handicap. It’s just me. So my learning curve is longer than, say, yours. Knowing that I’m a technidgit doesn’t necessarily make it worse, but it does make me not stress about it. I take the time I need to figure something out, and I use it at a lesser level than others would until I’ve taken the time to figure the next step out. It’s a slow process, but it’s how I roll.

That said, I didn’t struggle with setting up the basic features of the planner. I also haven’t ventured on to the more complex features yet. Go here and check some of those out for yourself! Seriously! Go right now.

If you are also a technidgit, rest assured that there are videos for everything. Hooray!

May I show you pictures of my grandchildren?

I don’t have grandchildren, but here’s a picture of part of a daily email I received from Homeschool Planet about my Wednesday.

Additional thoughts for other frugal and/or large families:

My family fits on the planner with room for more. I’m thinking about adding the cat, just for fun.

The feature that enables you to add multiple students to one class by checking a box has saved me so much time over working on individual planners for my kids. I can’t tell you! I can tell you. I just told you. And I am not even using it to its full potential yet, because I’m a technidgit. Remember?

Honestly, we are all in the same place at the same time–that’s the beauty of our lives. But you stationary people who have many children (or one) and have to manage many schedules (or three), well, let’s just say I have no earthly or outer-spacely idea how you do it. None whatsoever. If you struggle with managing everyone’s schedules, this could be your solution.

There is no additional cost for additional people.

Frugal people, here’s good news for you:

Sale alert!

Homeschool Buyers Co-op

The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op is running a sale in June. Yeah, you’re welcome for giving you all this time to think about it. Sorry.

If you sign up for the free 30-day trial of Homeschool Planet, you will receive a free lesson plan  from the Lesson Plan Marketplace that normally costs from $5 to $15. I’m not 100% solid on how this works, because I didn’t take advantage of this offer–they didn’t have any lesson plans for my current “school by the skin of your teeth” style of curriculum. Wink wink.

Anyway, the lesson plans are for many of the popular curricula. They break the curriculum into daily lessons and can automatically spread them out across your Homeschool Planet planner. Are you understanding me here? You give them your five bucks and they do your work for you. Are you beaming with joy? Do you feel there’s hope at the end of your tunnel? I know. So do I.

Additional thoughts for my fellow roadschoolers:

I needed some internet connection to originally watch the videos to figure out how to do the technical aspects. I’m still learning, too,  because I’m very slow at learning these days. Maybe the cheese curds are clogging my brain–that was a leeeeetle joke. Everybody knows cheese curds are health food.

You need an internet connection to access your planner on the web–duh. But I’ve not had any trouble. Also, if you’re printing a page per person, you don’t need to access the net all week. Also, I can’t stop thinking about cheese curds.

And finally, you can access the site through your phone for quick checks and such. You can even set up a shortcut icon on your phone, which I did and was super excited about, but then my baby deleted it. Stinker. You cannot plan your schedule out on your phone, though, so you have to pull out the laptop for the planning stages.

Will it stay on the road with us?

Absolutely. I might even pay real money to renew it next year. That says a lot, since real money and music missionaries don’t generally run in the same circles. And when there is the rare windfall, the transmission goes out–it’s life.

Summary:

Homeschool Planet is a very user-friendly program that combines the functionality of an online planner with the convenience, availability, and delicious smell of paper. Highly recommended!

What other parents are saying:

Other Homeschool Review Crew parents also reviewed the Homeschool Planet online planner. Some of them also reviewed the free lesson plans, so they can tell you more about those goodies. To get their opinions, click here or on the banner below, or just go straight to the website itself.

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