I am coming out of hibernation for a worthy cause: to review the 2009 Schoolhouse Planner from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. This year's planner is even bigger than last year's version, while still retaining all of the features that made last year's such a valuable and eye-popping resource. Checking in at 374 pages, it is almost a misnomer to refer to this all-inclusive resource as a planner. It is, in fact, a collection of educational resources, combined with planning forms which can easily replace your current day planner. It is further a cookbook, a reference guide, and a compendium of all of the homeschool forms that you are likely to need, whether you homeschool pre-schoolers or high-schoolers, and whether your style is unit study or unschooling. Best of all, the planner is delivered as a writable .pdf download, meaning that you can begin exploring it and filling in dates on the calendar immediately.
With almost 400 pages, and not a single one wasted, it is literally impossible to discuss each and every feature of this amazing resource, so in an effort to convey the reasons for my excitement, I will instead elaborate upon my favorite features.
First, the Schoolhouse Planner replaces all of your existing planners, both personal and homeschooling. It perfectly merges both of your roles as homeschooling mom (or dad!) and head (or co-head) of household. The search for the perfect system of recordkeeping is over! At first, the sheer number of forms may seem overwhelming, but it need not be! Simply peruse the planner, and make note of the pages that you want to print (if you're the kind of person that needs to see it all in pen and paper, like I am). Print only the forms that you need, and rest assured that the others are there for you if you change your mind. Personal financial inventory? Check. Grocery lists and menu planners? Check. Garden planning? It's there, too. The homeschooling section includes all of the forms that you would expect, from full planners (including twelve year plans!), to library reminders, to an extracurricular activities log. There is even a section for handwriting practice for the little ones! Once you print and organize the forms according to your specific needs, you truly can fit your life into one binder!
Second, for each month of the year, The Schoolhouse Planner focuses on a single topic and covers that topic in depth. Articles by many familiar authors lead off the month, followed both by actual resources included in the planner, and by lists of additional resources available through The Old Schoolhouse Store (as a nice touch, these items are hyperlinked, making purchase temptingly easy!). The month concludes with recipes that are both appealing and practical.
Finally, the section entitled "Miscellaneous Educational Information" is a goldmine of possibilities. Everything from lists of famous composers and artists and their associated works, to lists of inventions, to states and countries and their captials, to various conversion tables is included in this section. While it is true that all of this information is available elsewhere, it is wonderful to have it consolidated in one place: in my planner! I see mini-lessons galore as we wait in doctors' offices, during "adult swim" at the pool, and on those days when school is just not happening the way I want it to. There is more than a year's worth of educational joy just waiting to be explored in these pages!
I generally dislike reviews that don't suggest ways in which the resources could be improved, but I would be disingenuous if I tried merely to "come up"with some suggestions. My only hesitation is that some users might be chagrined by the sheer size/length of The Schoolhouse Planner. 374 pages is a lot of material. To any such user, I would simply urge patience. Spend some time looking through it, and getting to know the forms. Make use of the excellent table of contents, which is linked to the document itself (meaning that if you click on a form in the table of contents, you will be taken there in the document - a HUGE timesaver!). There *is* something in this planner for everyone!