Friday, August 19, 2011

The 2011-2012 Schoolhouse Planner (How *I* use it)

For years I have been using another homeschool planner. A pre-printed pretty planner with all kinds of nice extras built in. However, I was constantly scratching stuff out to replace it with my own text/subjects. Plus, I ran out of room for subjects because we do so many. Also, the space to write was small. There were many aspects of the planner I didn't use. This year I decided to go a different route and try the Schoolhouse Planner. Now, when I downloaded it, I will admit, I was quite overwhelmed. My first instinct was to print it all out. Yes, seriously. I was going to print all 818 pages.  Thank goodness I contacted Heidi (from Old Schoolhouse) and expressed my concern about the amount of information in that. Her advice to me was something along the lines of taking my time to go through it and only print what I would use. That helped some. But do you look through 818 pages of digital info, and not get overload? How do you remember WHAT you want to go back to and what didn't matter? I had to develop a systematic approach. I have done that now, and I wish to share it with you. Now, I am still rather new to this planner. I have barely scratched the surface of what all you can do with it. Maybe later in the year I will do a follow up blog with any changes or additions I have made to my "system". Maybe someone searching for the perfect planner will see this and be encouraged that they can have a planner that suits ALL of their needs, not just the homeschooling ones.

These things I am going to list are what *I* have done. They may sound like "instructions", but they are only what *I* have done, not what MUST be done.

Navigating the Planner:

Create a "Homeschool Planner" folder on your desktop...see mine here in purple?

Then, download your planner to that folder OR, if you have already downloaded it, move it to that folder. Easy, right? 

Now, go ahead and open that puppy up! One of the best things about this planner is that it is searchable! If there is something specific you are looking for, just type it right up there in the right in that search box. In this one, I typed "recipe" and it pulled up all recipes. I can just scroll through and find one that suits my needs. 

I am about to have surgery, and my mother suggested I make some freezer meals, so I went and searched freezer and low and behold, I found this form:

Moving on: Now, the search function works REALLY well, but, I am a "hold it in your hands" kind of girl. I didn't want to print all 818 pages anymore, but I had to have something tangible, so I printed the table of contents. A word of caution, you have to pay attention when you want to print so that you do not tell your printer to print all 818 pages. You must choose the option to only print specific pages, like this:
With having the "table of contents" printed out, I can scan through it and make notes about which pages I would like to print, and also make note on there of frequently printed pages and what they are used for. I will get back to this in a minute. 

I have two children that are full-time homeschooling right now. I followed the advice of Heidi (again) and saved a copy of the planner for each child, and one for me too. That way I can save changes I make specific to that child, or myself. To save a copy, you just open your planner, go up to "save as" and then rename it, and make certain you are saving it to your homeschool planner folder on your desktop. 


When I was all through saving my copies, this is what I had:

Got it? Okay, let's move on.

I have this "thing" I call my brain in a binder. Really, it is just about everything I need to manage our home, and school. The only thing I don't put in it are our lesson plans. I *need* those separate to keep my sanity. We'll talk about those in a few. Be patient. We'll get there. That is one of my favorite parts of how I use the planner. 

Back to my brain (in a binder). When I first put my binder together, it was just this plain blue 3"-"Better Binder" from Staples. My intention was to make it "pretty" eventually, and yesterday I finally did that. See? 

Inside the front cover is where I keep my printed "Table of Contents" for the planner

I have 24 tab divider pages in the binder. In front of all of them, I have one copy of our school week plans. This is a form I "tweaked" to fit my needs. When I sat down to plan our required weeks of school, I used this to date/divide them up. I have this one here so if I am making appointments or plans, I have a handy list right there. 

After that, I have the tabbed dividers. I will list them now with a few examples of Schoolhouse Planner (noted as SP) forms I use in those tabs:

  • Motivated Moms (this is the way I keep my house clean and in order, I struggled with this before) There are housekeeping helps in the SP also, I just know MM works for me, so I have not switched...yet. 
  • To do List (SP)
  • Menu (SP)

On these, I typed in our "set" meals/snacks and then our dinner "themes" so I could fill them in weekly

Remember that "freezer meal" list? It's in this tab too, waiting to be filled in...if there is a recipe in the planner (or elsewhere) that I print out, I place behind the menu for this week in the binder. I'll place an freezer meal recipes behind this sheet. 

  • Curriculum Notes (I just put anything curric. related here, and the SP has tons of forms for this)

This here is labeled "wish list", and I used it to record final choices and highlighted when I had ordered the curriculum. I just wrote the name of the child at the top. 

  • Reviews (Now, I am a Schoolhouse Crew member this year, so I will be reviewing products for homeschoolers. Also, I do reviews for a couple of book companies, so I need to keep up with what reviews are due and when.) Here is a SP form I use for this: (Ignore my sloppy writing, please)

  • Planning/Goals (this is where I keep my academic goals for each child and our family goals. I also keep my 12 year planning pages from the SP, but my writing is so sloppy I don't want to share). Here are some of our goal pages. I typed on them in the SP, saved them to the individual planners, and printed them out. I will have them there if anything happens to these or I need to tweak them.

  • Blog (here I keep my forms for give-aways and my ideas sheet, both from SP)
Again, please ignore my scribble...I can write neatly, I just don't very often

  • Memories (in this tab we will put recounts of special things, and we have this form from SP in there. My daughter has taken it on herself to write down cute things her little brother says on this form.)

  • Budget (SP forms, no pic, for obvious reasons)  ;)
  • Bible Study (I am doing the "Stepping Heavenward" now, but the SP has forms for Bible, prayer journal, etc. too)
  • Grocery List (These are all SP forms. I typed the usuals in, and I keep the pantry/freezer log in here too so I know what I have already.) 

  • Medical Info (SP)
  • Library/Reading logs (SP)
  • Homeschool Convention notes
  • Wishlists (SP)
  • Important Papers 
  • (A few blanks for later additions)
  • Calender (many different types in the SP)
NOW, WE MOVE ON TO MY LESSON PLAN BOOK (which, like I said, I love this aspect because this is where the other planners gave me so much trouble)

Background: I am schooling a 6 year old Lower Grammar level, and a 13 year old Dialectic level student. The way I plan their days is very different, and therefore I need to do their lesson plans differently. I will explain with the pictures. 

This is a 1.5" binder, also "prettied up"


Another copy of our annual plans, so I can plan accordingly

I have the weeks divided with numbered dividers:

Here is where it gets broken down (my lesson plans are still being worked on, so they are no where near complete):

Some of our schooling is joint, and I need a lesson plan for that that is not repetitive, so, this is my lesson plan. It is a SP form, and I wrote my name at the top. It has both kids name, so something like my weekly meeting with DD can go on here, but not on Troy's. This will keep me on track. 

Troy is still little, and I will guide him in all his studies, so he needs a more specific daily plan:

Then there is Michaela. I will meet with her on Sunday night, show her what she has to get done by the end of week, and let her copy it to her own planner, and spread it out between days the way she sees fit. This is so she can utilize time management. If something has to be done on a certain day, I will highlight it for her and note which day. 

As you can see, I utilized many different forms, and I didn't even scratch the surface. I bought this planner, it was not given to me to review. I was not asked to write a review or a "how-to" post. I just did this because I am loving this planner, and want to show others that it can work for them too. 

The folks at The Old Schoolhouse are so helpful, and that is an extra perk. I have been able to go to them with questions and get help and advice, and always in a quick and personal manner. What other homeschooling resource offers homeschooling families so much? I haven't found one yet. 

The Old Schoolhouse offers several planners to meet your needs. Here is the link to all the different planners if you'd like to look:  Schoolhouse Store

And here is a sample of the planner: Sample

I hope this is helpful to someone out there...

Please check out our TOS Homeschool crew blog hop!

Crew Blog Hop



  1. Oh. My. Goodness. What an awesome post!!
    I have the 2010/2011 Planner and LOVE it ...but alas, I did purchase a preprinted 'pretty' planner for this year.
    Shame on me. Your post has now made remember why I LOVE the TOS Planners. And you look so stinkin' organized!!!
    That's it... you've done it... I'm going to buy this soon. They year isn't over yet :)

  2. I love how you're using the Planner. Having worked on this project with Heidi and creating many of the forms that you show here, can I just say that I am super-impressed and inspired to do a little more of my own planning with the 11-12 Planner. I absolutely loved the screen shots you shared and how you decorated the covers to make your planners unique. Thank you so much for this post and sharing how you use the Planner! ~ Jodi from TOS

  3. Hi Crewmate! This is an awesome post. I won one of the planners and could not believe how much is in it. I had such a ball putting my own binder together! I should share it on my blog sometime. Have a great weekend! Following you now! :)

  4. Heather! Thank you for doing this... I have been waiting on a particular planner to become "available" mostly because I was overwhelmed by the Schoolhouse Planner...but alas, you have shown me the "light"!!! I really like the numbered tabs for the weeks...I will be incorporating those. Thanks again!! :)

  5. Wow! I am impressed! I to like the screen shots! Great way to lead!

  6. I'm new to homeschooling, so I'm thankful that I happened upon this awesome post. Thanks for taking the time.

  7. Fabulous! Awesome post. If I weren't so in love with Homeschool Tracker, I would've had to give it a whirl.

  8. I can't say enough good things about the TOS planners. the versatility, and the "wow they thought of THAT too are awesome, and there are so many extra things that are either inspiring, or helpful.

    The new special needs planner is amazing, too.

    Thanks for this post, and some more great ideas!

  9. This is a great tutorial, and I love the way you did your covers. Thanks for joining and sharing about the hop!

  10. Thanks so much for sharing - very helpful!

  11. I need to work on my brain in a binder. It needs some overhauling and I've been planning to use the TOS planner to help me with that rework. Loved the pictures!

  12. thank you for this post. This is my first year to use a homeschool planner and I just bought the TOS one a few nights ago and was overwhelmed by it. Your post helped me get excited about looking through it some more.

  13. I always thought that home schooling must take a massive amount of organization. I didn't even hit the tip of the iceberg in my imagination, though.


    This is an incredible endeavor. And you seem to master it so well.

    Good for you. Good for your kids.


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