Review: Five Homeschool Planners + Giveaway

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During the past decade of homeschooling my children, I’ve used a variety of homeschool planners for lesson planning and more. Some years I have used a comprehensive planner — one that will help me plan my life as well as my homeschool plans — but other years I have appreciated a planner that is smaller and just contains my school lesson plans. My decision-making year to year depends on how many students I am homeschooling at the time and whether they will have their own planners as well. When purchasing a planner, I also look for ease of use.

HomeschoolPlannersReview

Don’t forget to enter our planner giveaway below!

I love planners so much that I somehow ended up with quite a few to try out for next year. I guess you could say I am a planner junkie! One thing’s for sure: I just can’t get comfortable using a digital planner. I love to write things on paper and have the satisfaction of marking them off.

Here’s a video walk-through of the five different homeschool planners I reviewed:

 

In Summary…

Here’s a quick summary of each planner I reviewed, in the order they appear in my video, with pros and cons as well as size, price, and ordering details. Don’t forget to enter our giveaway below for a chance to win one of these fabulous homeschool planners!

Elan Weekly Lesson Plan Book

  • Pros: Inexpensive, undated, open subject boxes and large squares for writing your plans. It’s very simple, easy to use and very thin.
  • Cons: Very plain and lacks the homeschool planner bells and whistles, such as resources, planning, curriculum tracker, attendance, grades, etc. There’s no devotional or scriptures, no tips and no tabs.
  • Size: 8 1/2 x 11 and 1/4 inch thick.
  • Price: $5.95
  • To Buy: Found at most teacher supply stores.

Old Schoolhouse – Schoolhouse Planner

  • Pros: Open subject boxes, undated weekly planner, includes extras (such as goal pages, curriculum pages and attendance tracker), lots of useful resources in the back, mama devotions every month, monthly calendar pages and additional notes pages. Also available as a PDF download version.
  • Cons: Layout seems strange to me — all of the monthly calendar pages for the year are in the front, followed by all of the weekly lesson plans, then the monthly, semester and yearly goals. The lesson planner boxes are not very big. It’s on the expensive side and doesn’t have tabs.
  • Size: 8 1/2 x 11 and 1/2 inch thick.
  • Price: $23
  • To Buy: www.theoldschoolhouse.com

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell

  • Pros: Sturdy plastic cover with interior pockets, undated calendar pages with open subject boxes, and includes lots of extras such as year planning pages, curriculum lists, supply lists, reading lists, field trip planning, goals tracking, year-end review, and records and grades pages. Integrated throughout the weekly planning pages are spaces to track achievements, memorable moments, “Evidences of Grace,” and weekly plans for Bible reading, prayer, hospitality and outreach. Sprinkled throughout are devotional passages and quotes. A lot of helpful tips are provided, including ways to use the planner, planning tips, teaching tips, and more. Teen and student planners are also available.
  • Cons: The layout is the same as Old Schoolhouse — with monthly calendars in front separated from the weekly lesson plans section and goals. It’s the most expensive planner I looked at, doesn’t include specific attendance tracking pages, and doesn’t have tabs.
  • Size: 8 1/2 x 11 and a little more than 1/2 inch thick.
  • Price: $28
  • To Buy: www.apologia.com

The Well Planned Day

  • Pros: This is a life planner and includes lots of tips and instructions. It is set up for four students and includes student schedules and plans, shopping lists, budgeting space, menu plans, field trip plans, books to enjoy lists, monthly bills, Catechism and more. Pages are dated with subjects printed along the side (there are two free spaces). Every month has a different design. Other extras include Christmas organizing lists, semester attendance and progress reports, tear-out chore and school charts, and tear-out report cards. The two-page monthly calendar appears before each set of weekly lesson plans. It’s well organized, content rich and yet easy to use (sections are thumb tabbed). Also available as an on the go planner (same content but 9 x 6 size), a student planner with several design choices, a four-year high school planner and a new Blog Planner, which we will also be reviewing this week. (See my sister-in-law Renée’s previous review of The Well Planned Day here.)
  • Cons: All calendar pages are dated and divided by subjects (which makes it a little less flexible) and it doesn’t have pockets to store anything else. It may have more pages than you need: I felt a little guilty that I didn’t use everything in it.
  • Size: 8 1/2 x 11 and a little more than 1/2 inch thick.
  • Price: $26.95
  • To Buy: www.hedua.com

A Simple Plan

  • Pros: Strong cover with interior pockets and monthly tabs. It is set up for up to six students and includes instructions for use. Provides yearly overview planning, student schedule and curriculum lists. Two-page monthly calendar with weekly lesson planners following, dated but open subject boxes, and spaces for notes, prayer requests, supplies needed, field trips, reading lists, activities, etc. Includes attendance and curriculum tracker. It’s easy to use and focused on homeschool planning specifically, it provides large space for writing, and it’s less expensive. Student planners with several designs are also available, as well as a complete set of matching file folders, bookmarks, magnets, and sticky notes.
  • Cons: Very thick compared to other planners, no grades recording pages, and no bonus resources.
  • Size: 8 1/2 x 11 and more than 1-inch thick.
  • Price: $19.99
  • To Buy: www.mardel.com

I hope this review has helped you decide what kind of planner to use this year. However, please don’t ever feel stuck to one kind of planner: If one doesn’t work out for you, try a different one — and pass on the one you have to a friend who wants to give it a try. There are also several good online planners available now, and although I love to write mine out, I am intrigued with Mardel’s online planner that includes a library tab (see my previous review of the online planner here).

I know there are many other hard-copy planners out there that I didn’t include in my review: In fact, my friend Joanne Calderwood has a great planner for students to use that has an independent simple format of just checking off time worked daily in each subject. Have fun finding something that works for you!

What are you looking for in an ideal homeschool planner? Do you like to track homeschool plans separately, or do you prefer to integrate your homeschool plans with the plans you have for home and work? Have you found the perfect homeschool planner that meets all of your needs? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to enter our giveaway for one of these fantastic planners!

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Rosanna Ward is a devoted wife of 22 years and mother of four children, two of which are homeschool graduates. She currently homeschools her 11-year-old son Joel and 5-year-old son Leif. Rosanna is a homeschool graduate and a graduate of Oral Roberts University who has been homeschooling since 2005. She and her husband own two Daylight Donuts shops. She is also publisher of Tulsa Homeschool Happenings. Rosanna loves to study History and Genealogy: Her genealogy blog is called “Rosanna’s Genealogical Thoughts.” She and her family reside in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

72 thoughts on “Review: Five Homeschool Planners + Giveaway

  1. These are wonderful planners. Thank you for reviewing them and giving the pros and cons. That helps making a decision which planner to go with. 🙂

  2. The Apologia planner was recommended at a beginning homeschooling meeting I had attended. Thanks for posting about the others!

    1. The Apologia is a good one but there are so many to choose from – find what works for you.

  3. I’ve been trying to decide on a planner for next year, thank you for the review!

  4. Last year I created weekly spreadsheets, which took forever to do, but are free. Then I’d print them out and check stuff off, but somehow I always planned more than we accomplished. I like the idea of having everything bound together and really like the simplicity of the last one you showed from Mardel.

  5. Thank you for all the reviews, this is great. I ended up getting the Well Planned Day and I agree, feeling like there is more than I need here – but more is better than not enough right?! Well, thank you again and thanks for the giveaways!

  6. My favorite tool is my iPad or iPhone. I can access the Internet, apps and check blogs, Pinterest for ideas and keep notes, lists and schedules up to date. Not always ideal w the battery life though.

  7. I’ve been homeschooling for 17 years, but only used a planner my first year. I’m ready to try again! 🙂

  8. My all time favorite is the Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Deb Bell via Apologia. It has so many nuggets, ways to capture things my children say or do, reminders to share hospitality with others, a planner for the year, the months and the weeks – in those order help me gain a big picture, overall picture and a weekly picture of what’s going on – and is less cumbersome. The areas to identify my children’s character goals as well as academic goals remind me to keep character and God first. The resources, reading lists, oh, it’s just perfect for our family!

  9. I never can decide on the perfect homeschool,planner. It’s hard when you have 7 kids to find one to fit them all.

  10. I’m odd, I love they layout of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner. I get my basic ideas scheduled then when that month comes I can get more detailed. Also keeps from having wasted pages during vacation.I did have to make my own tabs but I can lived with that. I may add some pockets later in the middle to stash ideas in or remind me to do progress reports. I did just by a spiral hole punch so it will be put to use. Currently I am learning to design my own planner tho, because even though I like this one a lot there is more I want and there is only one way to do that 🙂 Until then I will just customize away.

    Remember, you don’t have to use the page exactly how it is labeled, change it, sticky notes and sharpies make redesigning fun :). I don’t teach Christian Homeschool, When this planner says Prayer, I put in a fun quote or motivating picture. Hospitality/Outreach I use for behavioral issues we are working on.

  11. I NEED this planner. I couldn’t swing it last year and it was tough … Hope to win!

  12. This will be our first year homeschooling and I have not used any of the planner before. I think I would like having one planner to keep up with all my activities and planning for home & school.

  13. I have yet to use a homeschool planner (that’s how new to this I am!), but having seen the Well Planned Day planners at the FPEA Convention, I would say they fit the bill 🙂 I thought they were lovely and quite well organized.

  14. I used the Well Planned Day and like you I felt bad that I didn’t use all the features. But, I would order it again. I like sticking the shopping lists in my purse!

  15. I haven’t found the perfect planner yet. I am hoping to try the one from a apologia this year.

  16. I love my planners for homeschool planning and was looking at the Well Planned Day planner this year. Haven’t tried it in the past!

  17. We are almost finished with our 3rd year of homeschooling. I could really use a good planner!

  18. Oh, I forgot to mention I also use Homeschool Helper, an app on Kindle. It was $4.99 and I LOVE it! I am mostly pen and paper when planning and brainstorming but this app does a lot, including grades and attendance tracking.

  19. Hands down, my favorite planning tool would have to be a good planner (seriously!) and I also use pinterest to keep track of ideas found, so I don’t lose them, and can go back to find just what I need instead of always having to write everything down.

  20. My favorite homeschool tool is a planner and my favorite is Well planned day:)

  21. My favorite home school planning tool Has to be my organizer and the table of contents for what I’m planning. I love the video you did on the different planners. Very helpful

  22. My favorite homeschooling planning tool(s) are blog articles like this one. These help me come at planning fresh, with a different perspective. They give me ideas and help me streamline my thoughts and ideas. The best thing is I get to learn from others “mistakes” and get an idea on what wouldn’t work for me in advance! Huge help!

  23. I LOOOVE planners and would enjoy trying the Well Planned Day as I have heard many great ideas about it! Thanks!

  24. Umm…I have no homeschool planning tools! Ha! I love my 4-color pastel clicky pen though! 🙂 I really want to try the Well Planned Day…I’ve heard good things about it. 🙂

  25. I have primarily used file folders for planning with my daughter but now that I will be schooling 2, I feel that an actual bound planner may benefit us. The Mardel one looks really interesting. Trying to figure out which planner is best for use with 2 children – it seems like most are either designed for only one child or for four and I get frustrated seeing the wasted space.

  26. So wanting to try one of these. I wish they made one for the iPad and android. Thanks for your help in choosing one.

  27. Since we are just starting our homeschool journey in the fall, I don’t have many planning tools yet. This would be the perfect thing to get us started on the right track. Thanks for the giveaway!

  28. My favorite planning tool is my planner and notepads. I make lists, lists and more lists. Thanks for the giveaway!!

  29. just trying out my new planner now. so far i like it alot. never used a planner before

  30. Planners are a great tool and a favorite; however, I must confess my very favorite tools are 3×5 cards (or sticky notes) and pen or pencil. I use them to constantly create lists of all kinds for myself and my kids and are extremely portable. 🙂 When I need to put my lists somewhere permanent, they contrast nicely in my planner and can be placed wherever I need.

  31. I’ve used the Ultimate Homeschool planner and really liked it, but I’ve only homeschooled 2 years and haven’t tried any of the others. Thanks for all the reviews! I will have to check some of these others out, too 🙂

  32. My million dollar question ~ how many weekly planning pages does each have? I know WPD has a full year and Hey Mama Schoolhouse planner does not. We school year round. I need to know which ones have 52 weeks and which ones don’t. 🙂

    1. I’ll make sure Rosanna gets back to you on this, but I do know that WPD and The Ultimate Homeschool Planner have a full year of monthly and weekly planning pages.

  33. Do you have any reviews of online planners? It’s my first year homeschooling my 2nd grader and I would prefer an online planning/organizing option but don’t know where to begin!

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