Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review of Lord Heritage HomeSchool Office

HomeSchool Office Review
I have a love/hate relationship with any kind of planning software or program. I love all of them and I hate the fact that I can't make any of them work. Well, that just might be changing thanks to a confluence of factors. First, Therese is (officially) starting high school. Second, I have found a program that is thorough, but not overly complicated. It allows me to use it either online, or by printing out its forms and writing on them longhand. In the best of both worlds (and the way I've been using it thus far), I write on the forms longhand, and then transfer the information to the online version, thus preserving it and allowing reports and transcripts to be generated. What is this game changer? HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage.

 HomeSchool Office has many, many features, and I will readily admit that I did not use all of them. I also did not use the program for all of my children. I have already found out the hardest way that when I do too much scheduling with the younger kids, I just get discouraged. I am way too prone to rabbit trails and the like to stick to a schedule that is too firm. After more than seven years homeschooling, I have discovered that despite my greatest fears, we do get our work done. We often don't get a day's work done in a day, or even a week's work done in a week, but (probably helped by the fact that we school year-round), by the grace of God, we do end up progressing nicely year-by-year. However, with Therese formally starting high school and my very pressing needs to begin keeping more formal grades and begin to build a transcript for her, I had already come to the conclusion that I was going to have to succumb to scheduling *light* for her from now on. The flexibility allowed by HomeSchool Office is looking to be a perfect fit for us.

The first step was to put in Therese's courses in order to create a schedule. The site tells exactly how to go about that process. It's essentially self-explanatory. My only complaint is that you can't input your own subject names. Because Therese's courses are very specifically named (Old Testament, Greek History, Greek Literature, Astronomy), I would have liked to have written those specific names into the schedule. Instead, I was limited to a (granted, very generous) preset selection of courses. So Therese has "History - Other" and "Literature - Other." It's a small issue, but we would both like to see her actual courses on her schedule.

So, after her courses, with expected hours and credit hours (I scheduled for one semester) are put in,

I was able to then create her schedule. If I had created a schedule for more than one child, their calendars would appear with hers, but in a different color.

This view shows the calendar as a weekly, rather than daily view.

One of the features of HomeSchool Office that I am not planning on using is the actual lesson planning, but that is because Therese has a lesson planner that guides her already (from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy), so to reenter the lessons would be very redundant. However, I have entered one below to show you HomeSchool Office's capability. For all of my other kids (none of whom use a curriculum like Therese is now doing for the first time), this kind of lesson planning feature would definitely be an asset. Most of the lesson entering features are basically automated once you have entered all of the class information.

One of HomeSchool Office's best features is its numerous reporting/tracking features. It automatically counts/accrues classroom hours for you, which if you live in a state that requires such things could be a huge benefit (God bless the great and free state of Texas!). It also allows you to generate quarterly attendance and grade reports, and it has a great transcript building feature (one of the major reasons I am excited about it - it looks so easy!).

Overall, I am very happy with HomeSchool Office. It costs $79 per family, per year. You can start with a 30-day, fully functioning trial. Your information will remain intact and your trial will convert to a full membership at the end of your trial if you decide to continue. This is one product I can see myself keeping and using for years. As my kids continue to get older, and as each of the four uses different programs and different materials, I am struggling to keep up and to keep records. When I think about dealing with four of them in high school at once and keeping up with classes, grades, and transcripts, under $100/year seems like a small price to pay to have everything always in one place. I love that I can print out what I want (since I do like paper), but that it will always be HERE when I need it to be. 

As I indicated, I am more of a minimalist and I didn't do everything with HomeSchool Office that one can do (to be fair, this program does so much that you *can't* do everything with it in six weeks!), so if you're intrigued, be sure to click the banner below to read all of the Crew reviews!

HomeSchool Office Review
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