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The TOS 2009 Schoolhouse Planner Review by Rebecca Huff

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC
PO Box 8426
Gray, TN 37615

Is your computer like mine--an unorganized collection of forms you have tried to create and collect to have everything you need to run your home and school in an organized manner? Are you a parent-teacher like me, spending more time creating charts than utilizing them? If so, the solution you have been waiting for has finally arrived! As I looked through the 375 pages of The 2009 Schoolhouse Planner, I just kept repeating the words "Yes!" and "Finally!" Everything I need for home and school in one file.

The 2009 Schoolhouse Planner is the most comprehensive planner, not just for your school year but for your life! This downloadable e-book is so much more than a planner. Full of interesting articles, information links, and forms it is a resource that will be used until you have an empty nest! One of the best features of this e-book is that it is a downloadable file, so you don't have to wait for it to come in the mail! That means you can print the forms as many times as you need to. I call it an e-Planner!

Most planners have a "month at a glance" section, but if you are like me, you need lots of room to write in appointments and reminders. I really appreciated the double-page spread for each month. Typing in appointments and birthdays right on the computer was quick and easy. Using the Comment & Markup tool bar was so much fun; highlighting and circling important dates made it personal. I was so thrilled with the resulting calendar that I printed copies for myself, my husband, the children, and their grandparents!

Each month in the calendar has a theme with articles, resource lists, and recipes. I was so impressed to open it up and find an article by Steve Demme, author of MathUSee. Well known author, Amanda Bennett is an article contributor as well. I enjoyed every article, as they are well thought out and written about useful information. Each recipe has a link to the contributor's blog or website, so if you really like the recipe you can go have a look. The resource list has links to point you to quality products for each particular topic. You could almost say it's a curriculum, there's so much information included!

The planner has every form you will need to have a successful and organized school year and an orderly home! Believe me when I say every form; I really mean it! I was amazed to find forms that I had never thought of, because I consider myself to be the queen of planning forms! Just to name a few, it has goal setting forms, curriculum planning sheets, attendance records, contact information sheets, budget planning sheets, grocery lists, schedules for one or many children, chore charts, high school transcript forms, and community service records. Some of the forms will help you to prepare for the year, set goals, and plan your curriculum. One of my favorite forms is the beginning and ending page, where you can see how much your child changed in one school year. The children will be really excited when I give them each their own wish list sheets to fill out! But there is so much more to the planner than planning! As I looked through the planner, my daughters stood behind me watching and asking me if they could print this page or that page for their own use, like the "Audio/Video Log" and "Crafts Completed This Year." Personally, I will be printing and filling out the form "Directions to New Places" for my husband!

This planner is a resource for your schoolwork as well; included are alphabet copywork pages, nature journal pages, journaling pages, science lab sheets, and book report forms for all grade levels that students can use over and over again. For toddlers you will find helpful a preschool planner and educational activity sheet. These will make it easy to think of ways to keep the toddlers occupied during school time. The plans for making an activity box are priceless! Toddlers will feel like a big kid with their very own chore charts with pictures of basic chores like making the bed, getting dressed and brushing teeth to name a few.

The Prayer Journal not only has blank lines to fill in your prayer list, but also has spouse, children and extended family written in to help us remember to pray for them daily. Bible Reading plans come with little boxes that can be checked off as they are read; you can print one for each member of the family so you are all reading the same Bible passages every day, or even use them during family devotional time!

Another benefit is all the information and planning tips included for college. At a glance, parents can see exactly what they should be doing to get ready for college, all with links to helpful websites. Each month has suggestions for freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors to keep high school students on track and give parents much needed guidance. No more worrying about forgetting to do something very important to plan for college.

There's not enough room to list them all, but other great resources are the timeline of inventions, countries and their capitals, U.S. Presidents and their wives, famous artists and composers, and a conversion cheat sheet (print and laminate this one for your fridge!). My favorite resource is on lapbooks. In addition to a list of lapbook supplies, there are many links to websites explaining how lapbooks work. One link will take you to free lapbook templates that you can download, and there are many more instructional links and freebies!

I am hooked! My only complaint is really a preference; if you are a vegetarian you are not going to want to try these recipes! None of the recipes were vegan (no eggs or cheese), and only one recipe out of 24 did not include meat. It would have been encouraging to find a Meatless Monday meal or some interesting twist on a vegetable dish.

Overall, you get a lot of bang for your buck in this planner, and pricewise it is only slightly more than I paid for a paper version of a very inferior product last year. Because the forms are reusable year after year, I would be more than willing to pay the price for The TOS 2009 Schoolhouse Planner. There's so much in this planner that I have dubbed it "The Planner of Highly Effective Homeschoolers"!

Product review by Rebecca Huff, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009

Another review of the Planner:

The 2009 school year has organization written all over it, thanks to The TOS 2009 Schoolhouse Planner. This 375-page e-book is packed full of articles, recipes, teacher and student help lists, resource lists, and forms for everything you could think of. The first half of this e-book is broken down by months. Each month has calendar pages and a well-developed theme. July covers History. August covers Math. September discusses Weather. October teaches Safety. November addresses American Government. December teaches about the Planets. January focuses on Letter Writing. February centers on the Life of Christ and Creation. March discusses Greek and Latin. April covers Lap Books. May confronts the challenging task of getting into College. Then June wraps up by teaching Geography and showing the variety of ways homeschoolers teach around the world. For each theme, the reader will find an article written by an expert in that particular subject. You'll find articles by Michelle Miller from Truth Quest History, Steve Demme from MathUSee, and many other well-known and widely respected homeschool speakers and suppliers. You'll also find tip sheets and student help sheets for each of the mentioned topics as well as a resource page of products you can purchase from The Old Schoolhouse Store. Each monthly section also features a recipe for a yummy meal that your family will be eager to enjoy.

After the monthly section, you will find tip sheets on everything from Famous Composers to kitchen conversions. Next you'll find over 60 interactive forms for all of your homeschool needs. You can even type directly into the pages and print out or save what you need! You'll also find over 40 household forms that organize information on appliances, meal planning, and so much more. A complete A-Z Address Book concludes this massively detailed planner.

It doesn't take long to see that the creators of The TOS 2009 Schoolhouse Planner worked very hard to top last year's very successful edition. This year's planner is bigger and better, and it accommodates all forms of homeschooling. Even unschoolers have a special form for planning their year. Hard work went into meeting the needs of all potential users. They have even added planner pages that enable the user to include up to five children on one page. The e-book is easy to download. Simply order, download, and print whatever is needed as you go. Don't forget the ease of typing directly into the forms. I love that feature.

I love the amount of resources this product contains for the price. I think this a very affordable resource for all it includes. My favorite aspects are the interactive features and the homeschool talent they pooled for the monthly articles. It was so far beyond what I expected.

May's unit was my only glitch. The article was not really related to homeschoolers and would probably induce a panic attack in me if I had a teenager. The Getting into College list was a little unattainable for homeschoolers. Our teens won't have student elections or class clubs like public or private schools have, and some of the recommendations aren't even attainable in co-op situations. I think this section could be a little discouraging and potentially overwhelming to the parent of a high school student. I would still recommend The TOS 2009 Schoolhouse Planner. The cost is so incredible. You would be hard pressed to find anything else comparable at such a good price. It's a planner, teacher guide, address book, cookbook, and so much more. The TOS 2009 Schoolhouse Planner really has it all!

Product review by Heather Randall, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2009

And another review of the Planner:

Subtitled “Making a Plan for School and Home,” The 2009 Schoolhouse Planner, an interactive PDF, is a very comprehensive teacher’s planner designed for the homeschool mom. The 375 pages include year-at-a-glance calendars for 2009 through 2012, educational themes for all the months (beginning with July), a myriad of miscellaneous educational information, homeschool forms, and household forms.

Each month has a specific educational theme. For example, July is “The Thirteen Colonies,” September is “Weather,” and January is “Letter Writing.” The theme is introduced with an essay by a well-known name in the field of education/homeschooling. Next there is some sort of helpful information such as a fact sheet or instructions that can be used in one’s homeschool. Next you’ll find a “Schoolhouse Store Resource List” with descriptions and links for educational products related to the month’s theme. Finally, two recipes (from The Old Schoolhouse® staff) are included each month.

The Educational Information section is full of facts you may want to reference (or even have your children memorize): famous composers, inventions timeline, countries and capitals, kitchen conversions, measurement conversions, periodic table of elements, United States and capitals, United States presidents, their wives, important US documents, a history timeline, seven wonders of the ancient and modern world, and famous artists.

The Homeschool Forms section of the planner has almost every type of form you can imagine: planning forms for the entire year and all twelve years, curriculum planning, goals; evaluation and record keeping forms, including report cards, grading forms, and a high school transcript; daily and weekly planning and scheduling forms for one to five children, Bible memory charts, logs for keeping track of everything: audio/visual, reading, crafts, field trips, extracurricular activities, nature journal pages and science lab sheets, a discipleship recording sheet, unit study and unschooling forms, a website/vendor log, and forms for co-op, support group, and outside class information. Here are some other helpful forms they’ve included: library items log, assignment sheet, attendance chart, community service log, several book report forms, homeschool curriculum and supply inventory sheets, preschool forms, and a wish list. It’s impossible to do the planner justice without listing everything it contains. It’s almost overwhelming until you realize that you only need to print out those forms you want to use.

The Household Forms section is equally comprehensive: phone numbers, babysitter info, health records, housekeeping reminder and schedule, home repairs/improvements plan, daily schedule, grocery list, menu planners, food inventory, chore charts, budget, gift wish list, Christmas card list, prayer journal, Bible reading schedule/notes, dates to remember, gardening, password log, vacation and party planning, car maintenance schedule, and address book. Again, this is not a complete list of the forms available in this part of the planner.

I was surprised by the recipe selection. Although there is one gluten-free recipe and a couple of lighter recipes, for the most part the dishes are rather high in fat. Because so many of us are on special diets or are simply trying to eat better to improve our overall health these days, I was disappointed in the choice of recipes. No nutritional information is included either.

The crayon or chalk-style font used for the planner, though cute, does not lend itself to the professionalism one would expect for a high school transcript or for some of the evaluation forms.

Planners, both household and teaching, are very personal things. My gut feeling is that most women have already found or created the systems they prefer to use. For example, I use Library Elf to track library items, a prayer list in my Bible, a birthday calendar on my kitchen wall, a customized grocery list on the refrigerator, a high school log book on the school shelf, and a simple teachers’ daily plan book on my counter, to name a few. These are tried and true methods that work for me, and it often seems best to keep the different lists or logs where I actually use them rather than all together in one notebook.

This planner is extremely broad in its scope, as if a homeschool helps handbook, a family cookbook, a personal planner, a teacher’s plan book, and a household notebook all collided. Veteran homeschoolers probably already have their record keeping underway in some working format, but newbies may well want to investigate The 2009 Schoolhouse Planner.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009