This past year was our first to try a software that facilitated planning and record keeping. Two reasons prompted me try it. One, we live in the state of Missouri which requires that we keep a log of hours. And two, my daughter was entering those “Jr. High” years and I wanted to practice actually keeping track of her grades and progress in hopes to one day put together a proper transcript. Before using any planning software, I had kept track of hours and scheduling on my homeade excel spreadsheets. While useful, these spreadsheets were limited.
The two options for planning software that I studied were Homeschool Tracker and Edu-Track. After trying each, I found them to be quite similar. Homeschool Tracker has a basic FREE option which does not track grades, but does a great job scheduling the year. The Homeschool Tracker website is much easier on the eyes, as well. But Edu-Track had a handheld option which sold me. The thought of not having to lug a planner while out and about, but rather always having the assignments available on my PDA phone was rather freeing to me.
Scheduling the daily assignments this past year is what was truly freeing. The software allowed me to plan much farther ahead than I have had the time or patience to do with my excel spreadsheet. This planning also enabled me to set and complete goals with our schooling. In the past these goals just sort of drifted away as we got distracted with life.
The scheduling also allowed me to be more flexible with our schooling. I could easily see what needed done, what could be done, what needed adjusted or moved to a different date, and what should just be deleted. By recording the completed assignments as they happened, I could also keep the kids more accountable with what they had left to accomplish. My train of thought is always derailing. I get off on a tangent and completely forget what we were working on that day or week, so this was an extremely precious gift to our schooling this year. It kept me in line.
My daughter desires more freedom with planning at her age of thirteen. This past year has been a great learning experience for her in this area. I would give her a list of assignments for the week and she would plan when to do them. She did great the first few weeks, but then began to struggle with getting behind. She would then become overwhelmed with all she had to do, procrastinate, and get even more behind. This year, she learned diligence.
Having a year of extreme scheduling under my belt, I truly believe that with this software and flexibility at hand we will have our most adventurous homeschool year ever. I have now been armed with the knowledge of how to manipulate and adjust our schedule, how to take regular breaks without getting behind, how to add change, variety and excitement to our learning.
This next year, we will complete 36 weeks of “school” beginning mid-July and ending in June. We will take many breaks and adventures in between our “official” weeks of school. We will stay refreshed and relaxed about “getting it done.” All of this is made possible by the software which I have deemed indispensable to our homeschool function.