Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Review of The Ultimate Homeschool Planners from Apologia

 A review for Mosaics Reviews

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner

The Ultimate Homeschool Planners are a series of three planners for the homeschooling family by Debra Bell and Zan Tyler for Apologia. The main portion of the system is The Ultimate Homeschool Planner for the parent  complimented by The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students and Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens. The student and teen planners are designed to be used with parental guidance to help the students learning efficient and effective planning and organization.

The planner system shares the idea homeschooling is a part of family life and it is nearly impossible to separate it from family life and the functioning of the household. Because of this interrelationship and the complexity of both family life and homeschooling, planning for major events and homeschool goals will make daily life smoother and more enjoyable.


The backbone of the system is the Parent planner in which the parent has the opportunity to plan for academic and character goals their family. Forms in the planner include:
  • One Year Planning Grid
  • Student Goal Setting
  • Family Priorities 
  • Resource List 
  • Monthly and Weekly Planner pages
  • Record forms for Grades, Reading Lists, and Activities
  • High School Planning Guides
  • Year End Review 
  • Ideas to Help Learners of Different Types
The parent planner measures 9 by 11 inches with a sturdy plastic wipe clean cover featuring inside front and back pockets bound with a plastic spiral.

The parent planner also includes an extensive tutorial about using the system to get the most out of it while helping each family member to grow personally and academically.

This parent planner is available in two cover designs and sells for $28.00

Weekly Planning Pages


The Student Planner contains

  • Monthly Planner Grids
  • Weekly Assigment Grids
  • Reading Logs
  • Chart for recording Grades
  • Physical Activity logs
  • Activity Logs
  • Space for Current Reflections and Dreams for the Future 
  • Space for Notes
  • Study Aids
    • History Timelines
    • World and US Maps
    • Science and Math Conversion Charts
    • Writing and Punctuation Guides
    • Book Ideas
  • Reminder Stickers for the calendar
 The Student planner is $19.00

The student planners are designed to be used along with the parent planner. It is recommended the teaching parent meets with each student twice a week; Monday to go over the week and put the weeks assignments in the book and then on Friday to review the weeks work.

The student planners are straight forward and have simple  weekly pages. There are two facing pages for each week, with each page divided into 3 sections; one for each day and Saturday/Sunday. There is a place for the student to mark off what they have accomplished and a place for the parent to mark when work has been completed to satisfaction.

Student Weekly Planning Pages

The student planner measures 6 by 8 1/2 and features the same sturdy wipe clean cover as the parent planner, but without the inside pockets. There is also a plastic ruler attached to the spiral which can be moved throughout the planner.

The third component of the Apologia Planning System is The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens. I did not review this item as my children are not in the age range. It is designed for grades 7-12. It is $19.00

Apologia also has curriculum materials for all levels, parenting and family resources, and homeschool planning and encouragement resources.

My Thoughts

I often find myself remembering  the saying "Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail" in the evening when I am tired and just want to sit and veg out. I generally sketch out a plan for the week, but often don't get everything I want to accomplish written down. If I just have a plan in my head I often find things aren't done. After studying and using parts of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, I am confident in saying that if I follow the steps and methodology behind the system my planning would be more complete and we would accomplish more. 

I have looked through and reviewed several Apologia products before and I really have not been impressed, but these planners are different. I was totally blown away by them. I like their simplicity, the pages are pretty but not distracting and the writing space is generous enough for lots of notes and plans. I also like undated pages, allowing for our schedule and not wasting weekly planning pages when we aren't do work I need to plan ahead.

My favorite form in the whole book is the one year planning grid. Some activities we participate in announce their dates for the year all at one time in the fall and I love being able to write them all down at one time and know when events are without having to go back through email.

One page of One Year Planning Grid

The resource lists are pretty useful as well. The columns are on these pages are wide enough that I can make a code for each curriculum item, write the name of it afterwards and then just use the abbreviations  in the rest of the planner. I think it would also be quite helpful if you need to keep track of materials used for reporting purposes.

 Another feature of the parent planner I like is the half page "Weekly Memorable Moments" area. There are so many little moments every day that I want to remember, but it is often not convenient to write something down the moment it happens or if I do manage to get it on paper I often don't date or label it. With the space for each week I will have some idea of when things happened. Also as I am rarely far from my planner, I have more of a chance to write things down.

I have to admit I have not gone through the whole year planning process as laid out in the parent planner as I have just begun thinking about the next  academic year. Thus it is challenging to plan a whole year when I do not have all the resources in place. I am thinking about goals for the year, which is an important component of the planning process. I intend to use this plan to organize our next year. It may seem strange having 'instructions' about how to plan, but I find them straight forward, clearly communicated, and user friendly. The text 'instruction' are made user friendly with pages featuring small pictures of the planning pages and short bursts of information to further describe the intended use.

The weekly plan pages have boxes in the margin for notes, supplies, and appointments. I used the supply section to make a list of items I need to print or copy from my computer. This way I don't interrupt my weekly planning to make copies, but can do it all at the same time from a list in one place.

Since there are so many pages in the planner, I would find it easier to use if there were tabbed dividers between the sections.

I don't generally use Apologia's products due to their religious nature and views. These planners do have prayers and religious reference. In the concepts of faithfulness and grace there is not distinction between justification and sanctificiation and no distinction between Law and Gospel. They do not  recognize the sacramental context of some of the Bible verses chosen.  The various prayers and quotations included also reflect this. Because the religious views are different than mine, I would choose this product based on the merits of organizing and planning rather than for the religion.

I also like how the student and parent planners are tied together to make a whole planning system with the goal of encouraging the students to become more independent in educational matters.

I honestly don't remember how I learned to plan and schedule commitments and due dates as a student, but this system makes the planning instruction/ guidance for students integrate fairly seamlessly into an academic plan. I found it does take some extra time for the student meetings and it was kind of strange to start doing this in the middle of the academic year. I think it would have been much easier to initiate at the beginning of a new year. I do believe this planning/ meeting method is a good way to help students take more ownership in their learning and pride in their work.


  1. Great review! Very thorough and I love these planners as well!

  2. Lovely review! I love how you said the pages are pretty but not distracting. That's exactly how I feel about it!

  3. Great review. I appreciate your candor and honesty. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.