Thursday, April 11, 2013

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner System - REVIEW

Homeshooling requires planning and record keeping to some degree, no matter what style or method a family uses for getting the job done.  I recently had the chance to review the entire "Planning System", created by Debra Bell, famed author (at least in all of the homeschooling circles I have ever been involved with!) of The Ultimate Guide To Homeschooling. These resources, as well as many others can be found at Apologia Press' website,

This was quite a challenge for me, as:
a)  I am NOT a planner, contrary to popular belief
b) I already have a calendar full of items that I carry in my purse and have filled with scattered things all the way through next fall
c) I am NOT, I repeat, NOT a planner.  Did I happen to mention that already?  Ok, sure, I note times and dates of events, but I am truly a "fly by the seat of my pants and go with what works today" kind of person.  If something requires planning and preparation, I can do it, but it is not my natural tendency and takes discipline to get those things done.

The items in the picture are the items I received for review. 

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner   $28  If you click on the link, you can find a sample as well as Table of Contents links.

This planner is great, not only for homeschool records but as an all around planner.  It includes a yearly calendar, month-at-a-glance, and weekly options to fit your needs.  There are record keeping pages, as well as goal setting and summary/journal spaces to document memorable moments and achievements. 

The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens  $19  There is a sample view on their page for this one.This planner contains space and tips for record keeping for graduation, tips and reminders for topics such as algebra, spelling rules, grammar rules, etc.

The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students  $19

This planner is a great starter for the younger students or the no-fuss, no frills type of student.  It contains a month at a glance page, but focuses on the weekly and daily planning.  There are many great resources in this one as well.

You can find them all, as well as the alternate designed cover version of the Ultimate Homeschool Planner on this page.

I could write pages and pages and pages about this, but my natural tendency towards being a bit verbose is getting the best of me lately, so I will keep it short and sweet as much as I can. 

The most notable things for me about each of these planners:

1. The covers of each of these planners is plastic.  Not just card stock or tag board, but plastic.  The kind that can be wiped off when you KNOW you will spill something on it... what? that only happens to me?  Come on, now...tell the truth... I am sure it has happened to someone else before.

2.  The Ultimate Homeschool Planner has POCKETS!  I *love* pockets.  Notes, scraps of paper for reminders, stickers, assignments, paperwork needing to be done, you name it, I keep it with my planner.

3.  The resources!  From the snippets of trivia, to scripture, to words of encouragement, all 3 planners are liberally adorned with these extra tidbits of knowledge and encouragement.  There are teaching resources and tips in the Homeschool Planner, there are charts and maps and "rules" pages in both the Teen Planner and the Student Planner.

4.  The dates have to be filled in.  I *loathe* having to do that with a planner.  Or at least I used to.  After listening to Mrs. Bell on the webinar for those of us who participated in this review, it became clear that it was a concern for her and her partner (Zan Tyler) in this project as well.  The reality is, if the planners are dated, they have an expiration date and things get wasted.  With this method, you don't have to worry about waste.  You can pick it up in August and not lose the first 7 months of calendar, and in turn, the publisher also has no waste.  Her suggestion was to have a child fill it in.  I LOVE that idea!  And I have changed my mind about having to fill in those dates. 

5.  My teen daughter was immediately in love with the Teen planner and until writing this review, I haven't been able to see it again.  She took it, compared notes on my desk calendar, consulted me for details on bigger appointments and events, and took off with hers.  This independence was one of the goals Mrs. Bell had with this system, creating independence in learning.  The goal of the products is that I could compare with her to make sure she is being held accountable for her work and time, but we haven't had that need in a printed form in our house, it happens regularly throughout the day, every day.

All in all, I am impressed with these products.  They are not a great fit for our family at this point since we have systems in place already that work well for us and it is hard to change mid-stream.  I can see great potential for the yearly switch over for us though!  I would LOVE to see the Homeschool Planner available in a smaller size, for my own personal preferences.  I carry a planner with me everywhere and it needs to fit in my purse.  I don't personally do well with one at home and one with me, I inevitably forget to transfer info, and I can't seem to practically manage a separate planner for each "section" of my life.  This planner would do GREAT with that, it is too large for the purses I choose to carry. 

To learn more about these great products and how to make the best use of them, find Mosaic Reviews or Apologia on facebook and join our party!  On Friday, April 12, 2013, at this link:  The party starts at 9pm EST!

****Please, accept my apologies for the lack of more detailed pictures.  Apparently, my camera has decided that all the great pictures I took should show up blurry :(  I am a bit more than disappointed with this, and hope to have the problem solved soon.


  1. Great review.Yes,spills happen here frequently:-) My camera has done that to me before,too.

    1. Thank you, Liberty. I wish I were more techie, maybe I would understand what to do with these cameras when they misbehave. This one is still new (by my standards!), I got it less than 6 months ago. I am not sure if I have abused it or if a setting has been changed by little fingers, but I have to figure it out, I love taking pictures with it!

      As for spills? Yeah, I am afraid they happen daily here. I guess that is part of having little people around and living life to the fullest when we can.

  2. NICE!!! LOVE your "truthfulness" in your post about not being a planner and not wanting to switch over mid stream! GREAT review!

    1. Thank you, Kendra! It is hard for me to change things up. I love this planner and the way it is set up and all of its great features. I can't wait to reach the end of my current one so that the switch will be completely smooth for me. Nothing to change, just move from one to the other.

    2. I agree!! It is is the BEST planner I have ever seen! I also choose to delay using ours until we start our new year. I am such a perfectionist that it would IRK me to start mid stream! LOL

  3. What a wonderful review, So nicely written and easy to follow!