Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Debra Bell's Homeschool Planners for Parents and Students - @apologiaworld #mosaicreviews

Apologia Planner - Header
 Debra Bell's Homeschool Planners for Parents and Students:
  • Fully Customizable for YOUR Family and YOUR School Year
  • God Centered Designs to Keep the Focus on Him
  • Filled With Extras to Keep Track of ALL of Your Family's Plans and Activities
  • Student and Teen Planners are Designed to Work With the Parent Planner
  • Includes Detailed Step by Step Parent Instructions
  • Plenty of Room to Write, and Designed for Use With 1-6 Children
  • Parent Planner - $28, Student Planner (Gr. 4-8)-$19, Teen Planner (High School) - $19 each
  • Find Apologia on the web (www.apologia.com)
  • Apologia is also on Facebook, on Twitter, (@apologiaworld)and on Pinterest
It is that time of the homeschool year again.  Time to start planning, making curriculum choices and getting organized.  One of my indispensable items is my yearly planner.  It is important to have a plan for the upcoming year and it is also important to keep a record of what we have done.  That is the bare minimum or what I look for in a planner - but it should also be more.  A place to keep notes, organize, and maybe even gain some inspiration.  Our yearly planners become a reflection of the bigger picture of our lives.  Therefore, for me, the planner I choose reflects the fact that we have goals,we enjoy a lot of extra activities, read many good books, and do things that make us well rounded people.

The Ultimate Homeschool Planners that Debra Bell created for Apologia meet all of my criteria, and more.  In addition to keeping me organized and allowing the children to see what we have planned for the day or the week in our class setting, she has considered our entire lives.  These pages include a place to document our needs as a family, our spiritual needs, and our need to set and attain goals.  There is a planner for the parents, one for teens, and one for younger students.

Each planner has a waterproof cover and is spiral bound for ease of use.  The pages are sturdy and easy to write on.  The parent planner also has pockets inside the front and back covers.

Apologia Planners
I checked out the parent planner first.  The time spent reading the introduction was very valuable.  I love her ideas and I appreciate the time Ms. Bell took to include these pages.  She clearly sets forth the best ways to use her system which then gives the user a clear idea of her vision and what she is hoping to give to our families through the use of her products.

She also includes helpful hints for nudging our children gently toward independence.  So many people think that homeschooling families bubble wrap our kids and force a learned helplessness upon them.  I know that isn't the case in our family and it isn't for most of the families I know!  (In fact, one of the things I enjoy most about homeschooling is that it fosters independence and decreases the opportunities to get caught up in groupthink.)

She also suggests setting aside a day for a yearly planning retreat, and provides helpful suggestions about how to make the most of that time.  Of course, as the year progresses plans made in early summer may be crashing and burning by late fall, so monthly planning sessions are also scheduled.

Here is the first half of the table of contents:

Apologia Planner Contents
As you can see - it isn't just about school.  There is a place for family priorities, goals, breaks, and resources your students will need.  You can see that she knows what a homeschooling family needs and she has included it all.

Throughout the pages are quotes from the Bible, the Saints, and other inspirational people.  Small encouragements are an easy way to reinforce that everything we are doing is for the glory of God.

I really like the Monday Morning Tutorials and Friday Afternoon Reviews.

Begin each week by helping students organize their days and their time.  They will take a look at their own planner for the week during this session.  Before they get up they will know what is expected of them and they have an opportunity to clarify instructions or express where they may need extra help from a parent.

Monday Morning Tutorial
Finish the week with a quick review.  Have your child join you with their planner in hand and make sure everyone is meeting their goals and grasping the assignments.

Friday Afternoon Review
The pages are set up so that there is plenty of room to write and enough room to document information for  up to six students.

There is a year at a glance page and then a double page layout for every month.  These are blank - I personally like this.  We don't all have the same school year, and it my personal opinion that planners should not automatically run from August through July.  Some families may not even follow a Monday through Friday Week.  Customize your pages as you see fit.  I love this feature, however, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that these do need to be filled in by hand.  (There are calendars through June of 2016 printed on the first page for reference)

Following the monthly calendars, it is time to begin weekly planning.  Spread out over four pages, parents will fill in their Bible plan, battle plan, prayers, and plans for hospitality or outreach.  There is another page to document memorable moments, achievements and evidences of grace.  What a wonderful feature!

The following two pages are for documenting academic progress.  Space for supplies needed and appointments are also included.

The Teen Planner is also well thought out and smartly designed.  

weekly planner for teens
The student begins by adding information about the school year and personalizing it by writing in plans, goals, and favorite things.  First and Second Semester plans are included, then monthly pages, and finally pages for each week.

As they complete their work, students fill in how much time was spent on each subject so that they can track their credit hours.  This is done by filling in the quartered circles.  The circle represents an hour which is then broken down to represent 15 minute increments

teen planner
The pages have SAT words across the top which will reinforce the vocabulary over the week.  Quotes and verses are in the right margin. There is a ruler in the front and handy resources in the back (maps, a periodic table, conversions, etc) and the design is very teen friendly.  Also included are pages with stickers to place on the pages.  these are for birthdays, music lessons, appointments, sports, and more.

I could easily see a public school student finding this planner useful as well.

The planner for younger students is set up in a similar fashion.  It doesn't include the time tracker circles, or semester pages, but it does have a nice "Study Smart Student Tool-Kit".

By filling in pages like this one - "All About Me"

Student Daily Planner
And this one, which allows them to contemplate  their future -

IStudent Daily Planner
Even young children can begin to think about character development and goal planning.

Of course, there are the pages for schoolwork, too.  Assignments can be written in and  the student will check them off when completed.  Mom or Dad will also sign their approval.

Student Daily Planner
These pages include quotes and verses as well as interesting trivia questions.  The appendix includes helpful study tools and the pages of stickers to make notes of special days, appointments and activities.

Apologia is a great resource for homeschooling families.  I would encourage you to visit their site and check out their encouraging books, curriculum, online classes, missions, and retreats.

I will also extend an invitation to join the Facebook party that Mosaic Reviews and Apologia will be hosting on Friday night, (April 12th) at 9PM Eastern Time.  It will be a fun filled hour, and you will have a chance to win things, too!