Homeschool Planning {a review}

HomeSchool Office Review



I will admit right now I am not one to particularly like extensive planning.  After creating plans I easily can stress myself out if we become slightly off track, and if I feel like we are getting behind schedule.  My new way of planning is to do minimal planning and sort of fly by the seat of our pants (so to speak).  However this "no plan" plan can also become overwhelmingly chaotic.

I was selected to review Lord Heritage and I'll say that I was very nervous when I found out.  Not because I thought there was anything wrong with the HomeSchool Office - but because I am just so not a planner.  I will say though, that I am rather pleased with the last several weeks I've used this Internet-based office to help me manage, organize and schedule my day to day life.

Lord Heritage's founders have set out to help others to create order in their homeschool planning.  The program's strategy is to follow the acronym POWER:  Plan, Order, Work, Evaluate and Report, a pattern that can be found in Scripture.

I started out with a 30 day free trial, to familiarize myself and get set up before the review date started for us.  I found the program to be very simple to begin.  The site is clean (no flashy distractions) and easy to view.  The options you have can be overwhelming at first, but I have found that once you sit down to figure it out it becomes increasingly easy to use and I was very happy with the results.   There is a very handy "Support" link where you can ask questions or read through different steps on getting set up.

You begin under the "Team" tab.  This is where you enter in all your names and resources, your contracts and school district.  If your students are old enough, you can also enter a user name and passcode for them to access their lessons all on their own.  I didn't use this option because my kids are too young for independent access to our computers.

As you can see below, I was able to enter in my three little students and even "family", which I later entered for the purpose of group learning, which I'll talk more of later.


The next tab is the first in the acronym POWER - "Plan".  Here you will be able to enter in the school subjects for each student, plan your school year for days on/off, create a master schedule (what subjects, which days and what time), list projects and create a budget for each student.

Below is an example of our school year, the purple signifying our planned days of school.  Here, I liked that I could quickly see how many days, in total, we would accomplish at the end of the year.



The information you enter in with each school subject can get very detailed, if you need it to be.  You have the option to enter in the required hours, the projected total amount of lessons and the credit hours your student would have, if you are completing high school transcripts.  Here you can also list the books/resources you'll be using and your goal or objective for each subject.

Entering in lessons for each subject per child is found under Plan:  Subjects.  You would select to "edit" a subject then click on the lessons tab.  It was here that I became frustrated thinking I had to enter in twice (or 3 times) the same lesson for the shared subjects we do as a family.  I decided instead of being frustrated I'd utilize the Support and so I asked about a solution.  I got a very prompt response and I learned I could create a "student" called group, or family, and enter in our shared lessons that way.  Super news!  Here is an example of our bible devotions, under our new "student", Family.


Like I have said, I am not a planner.  I don't like to plan ahead, unless it is my "hard rule" subjects (ones we do daily, no exception) which is bible devotion and math time.  Even then, I don't like to plan much more than a week ahead, ensuring I go at the children's pace and not my own.  What I have found, in Lord Heritage, is that I don't have to enter in lessons for every subject.  If I don't enter in a lesson for, say, science, then the site turns over at midnight, marks all our subjects "completed" and creates placeholders for subjects with no lessons.   I can now, should I chose, go back and edit the placeholder to enter in what we did do.

The next section is Order.  Here you will schedule your lessons, set reminders and create lists of things you need to get done.

My screenshot shows a great example of how I went from listing twice (for both Connor and Emma) our group activity, then figuring out I could create a "Family" calendar.  I was also able to, later, change our schedule for math and science which nicely keeps our old schedule we had already completed.


The next tab you will visit is Work.  At first glance, as the teacher, it looks the same as Order.  It is here though, that your student(s), under their separate log-ins, would have access to their work schedule, lessons and to do list.

You have the option to print your lists and schedules to take with you, away from the computer.  This would also be a nice feature for someone that would like to use this web-based program but doesn't have internet at home.  Go set up shop at the library, plan away and print to take home!


Next is Evaluate.  This is where you enter in grades for lessons completed.  This is also where you take attendance.  Attendance is done for you, by default (unless you override manually), for each day you entered under Plan:  School Year Plan.



Last there is Report.  It is here that you can generate reports and transcripts, whether for personal use or for state requirements.  This is a section I didn't use as we (don't hate me!) are not required to submit anything to a school district.  However, I do like the option of making my own reports just to have on file over the years.

I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to review Lord Heritage's HomeSchool Office.  In being purposeful to plan, even in a minimalist way, I have seen great improvement in our daily life.  When the kids come down in the morning they usually want to begin right away and I would (before using HomeSchool Office) need to scramble in irritation to print worksheets or find where we left off in books.

In keeping with my self-appointed rule of "at least plan one week in advance" I've saved myself a lot of hassle in the mornings, and irritation during the week when we come upon things I wouldn't normally have been prepared for,  such as science experiments or printing needed worksheets ahead of time.  I can see at a glance, the plan I have set for the week ahead.

I'm truly looking forward to using this HomeSchool Office more.  I really feel I haven't used it to it's full potential, even after 8 weeks of nearly every day use.  I will soon be planning our 2015/16 year and I really feel I will, for the first time in our homeschooling, be ahead of the game in terms of being ready and organized.


Pros:
  • all your homeschool management needs at a glance or a click away
  • as detailed (or not) as you need it to be
  • schedule can be printed for offline use
  • records can be exported to CSV (I'm not sure what that means but I'm sure it's a good thing)
  • 30 day free trial to get familiar with the site
  • fair price for a year membership
  • good support system; lots of help
  • color-coded scheduling
  • interactive and editable
Cons:
  • at the mercy of your Internet speed or the site's server speed or maintenance times
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To see what the rest of the 100 reviewers from the crew thought about Lord Heritage click the banner below:

HomeSchool Office Review
 
 

2 comments:

  1. Seems like a good program. About how long did it take you to get started with the initial information input?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. signing up for the program to start, then entering in our basic information took very little time. After that it took me about a weeks time (working 20 mins daily) to get up and running - having entered all subjects and our schedule. It took me longer because I was also in the middle of a busy work load. I'd recommend starting out while on a break from school.

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