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.
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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:
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
- 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!