Our family has been using Homeschool Planet as our all-in-one life and homeschool planner since 2013, and we can’t imagine homeschooling without it! It has been such a helpful planning tool that our first homeschool graduate has continued to use it to organize his college coursework.
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Why use an online homeschool planner?
I used to be one of those girls with the super cute paper planners and different colors of pens, markers, and highlighters to indicate different family members, types of activities, etc. I mean, one time after I had surgery, I actually made my husband stop at the school where I worked on the way home from the hospital and go inside to get my colored markers out of my desk, so I could use my recovery time to work on my planner. I was a little bit obsessed with it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I know many people still use those types of planning tools!
My problem with paper planners started when I began homeschooling. You see, things don’t always go quite the way you had hoped every day. Homeschooling requires flexibility. And while those colorful calendars and to-do lists look amazing when you first create them, they just become chaotic when you have to start crossing things out and moving them around.
Plus, as my kids got older, they needed to start taking more responsibility for their own learning. Making multiple copies of lesson plans every week to provide them each with a checklist of daily assignments was not a good use of my time. I needed to find a solution that would work for the whole family and allow for the structured flexibility that our homeschool required. An online homeschool planner seemed to be the best option.
Why Homeschool Planet?
There were only a few options available when I started looking for an online homeschool planner. I tried out a couple and they weren’t very user-friendly. Then one day, back in 2013, as I was looking for curriculum at Homeschool Buyer’s Co op, I came across a brand new program called Homeschool Planet. They offered a 30-day free trial, even back then, so I decided to try it out.
Folks…I never looked back! Homeschool Planet provided everything we needed and more!
The key features that sold me on it?
I can input all of my lessons for the whole year, quarterly, a week at a time, or whatever works for me. But, I’m not stuck with those plans if they need to be revised. Say one of my kids had a hard time with a particular math concept and needed another day to really master it. No worries! I can just shift all assignments down with the click of the mouse or even use the drag-and-drop feature to move them one at a time.
Access for All Members of the Family
Each member of the family can have their own login (as managed by the primary user). This allows students to access daily checklists for their assignments, receive direct links to resources, and set up their own homepage in a way that makes the most sense to them (planner, calendar, to-do lists, etc.).
The checklists are my favorite feature for my students. They just click the checkbox next to each item as they complete it! Not only does this foster responsibility, but it also teaches organizational skills and can greatly benefit students who are homeschooling with ADHD.
The primary user (that’s you!) can also allow or limit certain features to be available for each family member. Remember my college kid who uses Homeschool Planet to schedule his coursework? All I had to do was give him editing access for his own account, and he schedules it all out for himself (as it should be).
You can also allow another adult to edit lesson plans and assign grades, too, if you want. In our house, my husband really doesn’t care to have that responsibility, and I don’t really want to give up any control of it! Wait…did I just say that out loud? Well, it is true…
Individual or Shared Courses
Courses can be set up for individual students or be shared by multiple students. There are certain courses that we have done together over the years. History is a good example. Using the Mystery of History curriculum, I can put all of my students into one course and set up shared assignments, such as reading the lesson together. But, then, I can also set up individual assignments within the same course to reflect grade/ability levels (i.e. a research paper for a high school student vs. a craft project for an elementary student on the same historical figure/event).
Hint: To make it even easier, you can purchase ready-made Mystery of History lesson plans to automatically integrate into your online homeschool planner!
School Year Calendars
My love for calendars and planning hasn’t diminished just because I’ve switched from paper planners to online planners. I still love seeing an empty calendar sitting in front of me just waiting to be filled up! The School Year & Vacations function of Homeschool Planet allows me to click through the school year and decide which days will be school days and which will be school breaks or holidays. This makes it so easy for those of you who are required by your state to keep attendance. I can also determine the dates for my grading periods, so I know when to prepare report cards. Speaking of report cards…
Report Cards and Transcripts
I can create report cards and transcripts with just a few clicks! And if I need to edit any of the information, it’s super easy to do before I save or print. You may or may not be required to produce report cards and transcripts by your state, but if you’re homeschooling high school, I recommend that you do it even if you aren’t required to. You can read more about my thoughts on the matter in my Homeschool Graduation Requirements Guide.
Extra-Curriculars, Grocery Lists, To-Do Lists, and More
Remember how I said Homeschool Planet was an all-in-one life and homeschool planner? Well, there isn’t much about your life that can’t be organized with this tool! You can include any activities that you want and assign them to one or multiple students. They’ll show up on your calendar and planner views. Plus, you can integrate them into any other calendar you may use (Apple iCal, Google Calendar, etc.).
Are you a list maker? I am! I can create as many lists as I want and send them to myself or any member of the family through text or email. Even if I’m away from home and need to access the list, there is a way to do that as well. And for those who still want that paper copy…you can print them out, too!
Integrated Lesson Plans and Curriculum
This is a newer feature that they just added in the last few years, but it makes life so much easier! Homeschool Planet has teamed up with some of the most popular homeschool curriculum publishers to offer lesson plans that can be automatically scheduled for your entire school year with the click of a button. Some of these lesson plans include the curriculum as well! There is an additional fee for the lesson plans from the Homeschool Planet Marketplace, but it is very reasonable, and Homeschool Planet often offers discounts on these products.
Another feature that I love…I can create my own lessons for a course and save it to use in future years. For example, when my oldest child took Algebra 2 for the first time, I created lesson plans for the entire year. When my next kid was ready for Algebra 2, I didn’t have to re-create them! And just in case you were wondering, it is very easy to modify them to fit the individual learning needs of each child.
Tip: Of course, the same curriculum isn’t always the best fit for all my kids, so I’d much rather take the time to do new plans (or purchase them from the Homeschool Planet Lesson Plan Marketplace), rather than forcing a student to use a curriculum that doesn’t work well for their needs.
Homeschool Planet is always upping their game!
Since we’ve been using Homeschool Planet, they have constantly been adding and improving features. The value that they offer for their product is outstanding! Customer service is top notch, as well. Anytime I have contacted them with a question or idea for improvement, they have always responded in a timely, courteous, and well-thought out manner. I appreciate the organization this tool has brought to our homeschool, and I hope you’ll give it a try as well!