Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of VitaFamiliae
As my children have grown, my needs in a homeschool planner have grown, too. Google Calendar is our family’s go-to for scheduling and I’ve used it successfully for several years for planning out our school work.
But when my boys were reading better and were beginning to work more independently, my needs changed a little.
- I wanted to be able to print them an easy to understand assignment sheet.
- I wanted to save the lessons plans I was creating and use them for future children.
- I wanted something that was intended for homeschool plans, not something I adapted to “make it work.”
Because we are a family addicted to Apple and Mac products, my choices were limited.
Homeschool Tracker and Scholaric are web-based, which mean you need an internet connection to view them. There are advantages to this, namely that your plans and grades are accessible from any device with internet and there’s nothing to download or update. These services are subscription based, which means you pay a monthly rate to use them.
Olly and iPlan are downloadable one-time purchases. Olly is currently a Mac App with plans to expand with iPad and iPhone apps very soon. iPlan is only available on iPad or iPhone. It will sync with iCal. The updates are free, but you do have to remember to update!
To be honest, not being able to use iPlan on my computer seemed too limiting to someone who hasn’t completely given up her old-fashioned ways of using a laptop and I quickly nixed it. But if you mostly use your iPad, it’s a cheaper option than Olly.
After a few days of fiddling and inputting the same lesson plan into each service, I quickly identified my favorite.
I chose Olly for several reasons:
- The interface made the most sense to me.
- I don’t have to have internet access in order to see my lesson plans.
- I can reuse my lesson plans and even duplicate them easily for my twins.
- The assignment sheets it creates are color-coded and simple for my kids to understand.
- I can keep up with grades and even create reports and transcripts easily.
- Eventually, I will have access to Olly on my iPhone and iPad, too.
- Olly was designed by homeschoolers for homeschoolers and their forums are extremely helpful. Any changes we suggested have already been implemented.
One important thing to note: Any of these programs will have a learning curve. Pick one program and stick with it.
None of these were immediately intuitive to me upon first glance. I invested just enough time in them to determine the features I liked, but I didn’t spend hours learning the ins and outs of each program.
Once I decided I liked Olly, THEN I took the time to completely understand the inner workings. It took a few weeks, but it was a good use of my time. Now I can make lesson plans, assignment sheets, and report grades in a matter of minutes each week.
Are you a Mac family? What do you use? Do you prefer web-based programs?