Review of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia Educational Ministries

I am not a very organized person. I actually do get a lot done (with 6 kids and a business, I have to), but I don't always have a plan in place for doing so. I kind of wing it.  I was able to review The Ultimate Homeschool Planner in blue from Apologia Educational Ministries, and it has been hands down the easiest and most-effective planner I've used. I'll share with you why...

First, this planner has all formats for planning by date. It has year-at-a-glance, monthly calendars, and weekly calendars. I love how much room there is to write, and there is enough spaces to plan out fully for SIX kids! (It's like they read my mind.) The sixth space on the weekly calendars gets used for my activities, since my baby is a bit too young to have school.

There are many components to this planner, but -- unlike others -- there aren't too many components. For example, you could easily write down your meal plan in a kid space on the weekly planner, but you don't have pages and pages JUST for meal planning. That means it's also the most flexible planner I've used (without being so general that it doesn't inspire you. More on that in a minute.)

The sturdy blue cover is easy to clean, so no fear of setting your coffee mug on top. It has spiral binding -- the ONLY kind that works in my life. It also has some pretty nifty regular sections. Here's what I love most, and how I'm trying to use it. (Note: I'm not consistent every week, but the weeks I use the planner, I'm more effective.)

1. Sunday night, I sit down with my husband over TV and we review "The Lord's Day" section. We fill out the Bible Plan, which usually consists of listing out the weekly devotionals, Bible studies, and videos we want to do as a family.

2. After that, we discuss our Battle Plan. These are things that we think need badly addressed in our lives. Usually they are versions of the same issues: consistent meal plans and cooking meals on time, consistent lessons for those kids who struggle with consistency, and getting everyone to bed by 9:30.

3. Prayers come next. Our prayer list has gotten long, so this is where we list out special prayer requests. Relatives with cancer or our Compassion International child who is in the path of a storm would be two examples we did recently.

4. Hospitality/Outreach is something we try to do with our limited budget and time. This usually consists of a phone call or card sent to someone who needs it.

5. I'll also scribble a rough meal plan at the very bottom of this page to remind me of what I was thinking about when flipping through recipes books that day.

The next sections are largely for lesson plans and appointments, which we schedule out, but are flexible with. My kids currently use a "4-Day" system, where they school any four days of the week, but have to complete the entire week's lesson prior to Sunday. So if it takes them 5 days, that' OK. If they finish early, they have to do extracurriculars on the 4th day.

I haven't been 100% consistent with using this every day, but I have been loving it more than any other planner, and I feel like I'm getting better with planning. This planner is not overwhelming, has several "guidance" opportunities (like the scripture and quotes throughout) and possibilities for additional use. We rarely fill out the "This week's memorable moments" section or the "evidences of grace", for example, because these feel like journaling; I'm not very comfortable with journaling in that way -- yet. I'm making it  goal to get started with, and this planner may be the thing that finally does it for me.

You can find this planner in 3 colors (pink, yellow, and blue) at the Apologia Educational Ministries website for $29, which is very reasonable for a planner of this size and scope.