Monday, June 29, 2009
TOS Review: 2009 Old Schoolhouse Planner
There was a time when I basked in the free-wheeling glow of summer. I can still remember those days: pulling the sunscreen out, cranking the spigot wide open and filling the kiddie pool just high enough for three little ones and their momma to bask in the sun, Otter Pops in hand.
I tell you, I could spend entire days right there, up to my belly button in water growing more tepid by the minute, shielding my eyes from wayward splashes and hoping that the pre-frozen meal I'd pulled out would be thawed in time to have it cooked when Mr. Blandings got home.
Nowadays, I'm more likely to be found sitting at the shady picnic bench, surrounded by books and papers while my three oldest cavort through the sprinkler and the little ones gasp in awe at the miracle of the bubble machine. This is summer a season on down the road: homeschooling mom to children whose skills need to fall somewhere around the 7th, 4th and 2nd grade by next spring. Homeschooling mom who needs to finesse in therapies and developmental activities for a 2 year-old who is in need of assistance. Homeschooling mom who will have yet another toddler tossing Legos during read-alouds in the fall.
If you read that last paragraph and feel a sad wistfulness on my behalf, please don't! I actually don't miss the kiddie pool nearly as much as I thought I would. Maybe it's the gift of having been truly present during that season? Maybe it's a new found aversion to lounging in water that also doubles as "base" when a good game of tag is afoot? I don't know. But whatever the reason, I'm tickled by my new role as Summer Planner Extraordinaire.
After a few weeks of decompression from our most recent completed SL Core, I like to begin digging in to the process of assembling something of a plan for our next steps. Since we use a mostly year-round school schedule, I jump from one ship to another fairly quickly. The key in all of this shuffling and resorting?
A really good planner.
For years, I made do with free printables that I had culled from one of my favorite spots on the internet. Then, last year, I discovered a gem: The Old Schoolhouse Planner. The forms I had been using? Oh, yes--they were in there. As were many, many others that I would never have thought would be so handy. (A sheet to list all of your website logins and passwords? Be still my heart!) There were templates, guides and skill sheets galore. Checklists. Household information. A wishlist for homeschool items. Articles on topics I'm actually interested in. Recipes!!!
O.k., I'll stop.
It's $39, guys. A small price to pay for something that will revolutionize your homeschool.
If you hit the link above, you'll see that this is an ebook product. Then you'll wonder why on earth I assemble mine at my picnic table. True, the TOS Planner is designed so that you can type directly into the forms and save copies--even multiple children subject planners. But I choose to use mine in an old-fashioned way, printing out a hard copy of only what I need and adding it to a massive binder that is second in my scheduling heart only to the Palm Centro that Mr. Blandings bought me for Valentine's Day (romantic that he is!). This way, I can have my planner on the kitchen counter as I school, or even take it with me if I have a use for it while I'm out and about.
In addition to the massive amount of information already in the planner itself (a guide to cloud formations, anyone?), additional modules are available each month to help you kick up your school planning yet another notch.
So this is my summer in nutshell: picnic bench, lemonade, the squeals of my children, and my Old Schoolhouse Planner. I guess this is the kiddie pool of the homeschool mom! :-)