Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: The Old Schoolhouse Student Planners

A few months ago, I posted about The Old Schoolhouse Planner in my entry Confessions of an Unorganized Homeschool Mom. It hasn't worked miracles, but I like to think that I'm gradually moving towards the new-improved-Cristi that I dream about.

A few weeks ago, I was graciously afforded the opportunity to see if I could share my newly acquired organization skills with my children. Thankfully, I'm not on my own. Addison and Brennan can each have their very own Planners to rival the one that's organizing my life.

The Middle School Planner is a 280 page document that you can personalize to fit you and your child's needs.Not only can use choose which pages to print, but many of the pages are able to be customized before they are printed. I keep most of my own planner pages in a three-ring-binder, but I'm considering having some of Addison's pages spiral bound.

I was quite impressed with all that was included with the Middle School Student Schoolhouse Planner. Like the adult planner, there are full-sized calendars for the year, available in both lined and unlined versions. By printing it on colored paper, Addison can have one customized for her current interests. (Perhaps I should only print a few months at a time, so that we can change the background design as her interests change.)

There is a ton of useful information for a middle school student to refer to as needed, and it encompasses a wide range of topics -- vocabulary roots; the miracles and parables of Jesus; list of the American Presidents; a list of countries worldwide (with capitals); writing prompts; non-school related stuff like kitchen measurement conversions; a history timeline; lists of famous composers, artists, and inventions; and much, much more.

Middle school is a good time to start teaching a student to do some basic planning and goal-setting. There are pages provided for short-term goals (daily, weekly) and also for more long-term goals (monthly or for the whole semester). I particularly like the format of the page that starts, "One of these days, I would like to...." The student can brainstorm ideas for things they'd like to buy, places they'd like to visit, things they'd like to read, and so on.

Addison might not like that I've found great planning pages for her schoolwork in this planner. She is currently experimenting with a block-style schedule in terms of doing her independent schoolwork each day. It is working well for her, but it sometimes makes it difficult for me to keep track of what assignments she is supposed to do when. If I print out the weekly schedule pages and she records what she is doing, I'll be able to see at a glance which subjects are being neglected. I know we'll both appreciate this sort of record keeping when we come to the end of the schoolyear and most of her subjects are on-track to being completed. My goal is to help her stay on schedule so that she's not squeezing the last half of the science text into a few weeks during summer school.

I would have been pleased with all of the school-related offerings in the Student Planner. The Old Schoolhouse went several steps farther and included plenty of other useful tools. There are places to record service projects, reading logs, to-do lists, and even a wish list that could record ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts. (I need to print one of those for everyone in our family). In terms of your child's spiritual development, there is a place to record Bible memorization, two different Bible reading schedules, and a great prayer journal.

The Middle School Planner is available through The Old Schoolhouse Store for a regular price of $19. There are several bundle options available now that make it an especially good deal if you have children needing different levels. 

Even though I feel like I've babbled on and on about this Planner package, I also feel like I haven't even talked about half of the things that you can find in it. I now feel like I have the tools to help all my children learn to be more organized. Perhaps someday soon I'll be posting about a new-improved-Addison and her little brother the new-improved-Brennan. By the time Lauren can read and write, we'll have this organization thing down pat.

Disclaimer: I received free copies of the Student Planner (both Secondary and Middle School versions), and I received no other compensation. In return, I promised to provide an honest review of the materials and how they worked for our homeschool family.

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