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Hey, Mama! Schoolhouse Planner Review by Melissa Bontadelli

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
P.O. Box 8426
Gray, TN 37615

Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/2020 year is a homeschooling planner by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. The planner sells for $22.00 in the United States. The planner has traditional features like a calendar for each month, and then individual weeks laid out to accommodate information for up to five children. The planner is spiral bound, so lays open very easily. At the back of the planner are pages for curriculum planning and goal setting for up to five children. Uniquely, sections of the planner are started with devotional entries written by Gena Suarez publisher of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. The planner runs from July 2019 through June 2020.

Currently, in our school environment, we use three different calendars. I keep a whiteboard calendar for a quick visual of important events and our daily schedule. I keep an electronic calendar to alert my family on our devices of important events and I keep a paper calendar that I carry around with me at all times. The new TOS calendar will easily replace the paper one and a portion of the whiteboard calendar. The pages on the TOS calendar are very large and roomy for lots of writing. It will sit in our school room with each day’s schedule and important events on it.

I have already worked a bit with the planning features that are at the end of the planner. In our school, we school year-round. We are currently on break and in the planning phase for what we consider the next year. I was able to use the curriculum planner to outline each subject and the curriculum we would use for that subject. I then put goals for each child down in the yearly goals section. I really enjoyed the fact that there was a spot for spiritual goals. I know that sometimes I overlook this, even though we study the Bible every day and work our faith into multiple subjects. Writing down a spiritual goal was different and really made me focus on what I wanted to see grow in my children spiritually in the year to come.

Included in the planning section is an attendance chart which was great. We are not required in our state to track attendance or hours, but I think it will come in helpful as a visual check for us on how many school days we have finished. Also, in this section was a place to list books that had been read. This area was a bit of a disappointment. There are twenty slots per child to list books. I feel confident saying that is what my older child reads in a month, maybe even a couple of weeks. We might use this section for longer read aloud or audio books, not sure yet.

The layout of the planner is large calendar pages in the front of the book. Each month is a two-page spread for a calendar. This gives you large boxes for each day to write information. The calendars start with July 2019 and run through June 2020, matching planning and school years. I appreciate the large boxes for the calendar. One of my main complaints with my current planner is the small boxes and lack of room. The planner is a larger size, so not necessarily easy to fit in a purse. After all the calendars, there are pages of weekly planners. Again, the weeklies are spread across two pages and there is a column for each child up to five children. I intend to use these pages for more detailed information on subjects for each day. I am grateful they are not pre-marked with day names on them. We follow a non-traditional week because of my husband's work schedule, so we take Tuesdays and Saturdays off school. Allowing me to write in our days makes the calendar much cleaner and more functional for the way our family operates.

There were only a few things that I found so far with the planner that I would consider negative. As I already mentioned, the book list page is too small to really capture what homeschool children read in a year. One other issue I found was that there were no tabs or dividers to easily move from one section to another. I am using binder clips to mark where the large month-long calendars are versus where the weekly calendars start. I have used planners that give a bookmark that snaps into the spiral binder and those are very helpful. You would need three for this planner to separate the three distinct sections. Finally, some people may not like the size. I do, but I carry a backpack everywhere we go so I can hold everything. I don’t envision taking this planner with me everywhere, but if I need to I can.

I am really looking forward to using this planner for our school. It will help me eliminate some of the duplicate calendars I currently have, and it will streamline our scheduling. I also envision using it to teach my students how to look at the calendar and figure out on their own what they need to do and get done each day. I intend to do far more with the goal setting for each semester and for the year. I have set very vague goals so far but am excited to use this tool to do a bit more in this area. I am also looking forward to reading the devotionals. I have completely resisted the urge to read them all right now and I am saving them for the beginning of each month. I am confident that each devotional will be just what I need to hear at that moment.

-Product review by Melissa Bontadelli, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2019