If you are a homeschooler, what types of lesson planning do you do? I must personally admit that I truly love lesson planning. I am always so excited to purchase my newest lesson planner each summer and fill it with our lesson plans for the semester. And, although I’ve always known that there are online planners available, I’ve (thus far) always used a spiral-bound lesson planner. But I have now been introduced to a most excellent online planner, that has changed the way I think about lesson planning, and, I believe, has improved and streamlined my process! My latest review from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, and my first experience with digital lesson planning, has been HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage. We were blessed to receive a year’s subscription to HomeSchool Office.
When I was first introduced to Lord Heritage, I was definitely intrigued. Lord Heritage is not just lesson planning software. Their HomeSchool Office is comprised of a 5-part planning program, which fits under the acronym POWER: Plan; Order; Work; Evaluate; and Report. The creators of Lord Heritage drew this from God’s orderly plan, seen over and over in Scripture and creation, and it’s also similar to plans used successfully by many individuals, whether in their professional or personal lives. I love the idea of order drawn from Scripture, and this really attracted me to this planning system. Let me describe for you what’s contained in each of these POWER categories.
- Plan: What is the plan for your student’s schoolwork this year? What are your goals and objectives? In the Plan portion of HomeSchool Office, you’ll compose a master list of all the subjects you’ll be studying together over the course of the year. Here, you’ll be able to then set up your daily master schedule for each week. Our schooldays are M-F, but Sunday and Saturday are also included as options on HomeSchool Office’s scheduling pages. There is also a yearly calendar page, with school days listed for each month. A budget page is included for your curriculum and school expenditures.
- Order: In the Order segment of the software, you can view all of your schedules, be they for the month, week or day. You can also add items for daily to-do lists here.
- Work: From the Work tab, you can print your daily or weekly schedules or access the lessons planned in each subject. Your students can also access their daily or weekly work schedules here.
- Evaluate: This section enables parents to record grades, evaluate student work, and note attendance each day. There’s also a place where hours spent per subject can be recorded.
- Report: Here, parents can create transcripts for their students based on all the work they’ve done over the year.
Vision-planning documents are another useful inclusion on the Lord Heritage website. They have a 5-part mission statement as an example for homeschoolers. They also have excellent pages on homeschool covenants. Modeled on God’s covenant with us as believers, they describe ways we can set up and organize covenantal relationships and procedures in our homeschools, between us and our children.
A Program Support section provides ways to submit tickets for additional assistance from Lord Heritage for any problems you encounter while using HomeSchool Office.
How we used it:
I have to admit that, although Lord Heritage provides a wonderful tutorial for HomeSchool Office, it was sort of challenging for me to get the hang of, at first. I think that might have been a problem with me, rather than the software, though. However, I did get the hang of it, and once I did, I wondered why it had been a hard start! I think it’s most likely that this was the very first time I’d ever used online lesson planning software. So it’s kind of like learning a new language. At first, it might be a bit difficult….but one day, the lights all go on and things are as clear as a bell.
I have only one child, so I entered all of his subjects on the master schedule. (I was actually sort of surprised at how much work we’re actually accomplishing!) Then, I arranged his daily and weekly schedules, by inputting them into HomeSchool Office. It was very simple to add the subjects by day and time.
I was surprised at how well having this schedule helped the flow of our days. I was already recording our daily lesson plans on the written planner I used earlier. But somehow, having it entered onscreen and being able to print and access this information made a major difference in our daily work and organization.
Pros: I really could see how HomeSchool Office made me more organized in my lesson planning. One of the major advantages to this software is that you can see at a glance (after entering your subjects and lesson plans) exactly what you have to complete, and by when, to finish a subject for the year. It also really helped me in planning our weekly work. I’d thought that I was pretty organized in my planning (as I said before, I DO love lesson planning), but this enabled me to really progress in my organization.
I also like the order and scheduling it provides for the students. Each day, they can pull up their own schedules and see exactly what is on their plates. This was a huge benefit to my son, who really likes to see what is coming in a given homeschool day; and conversely, what he still has to complete.
I also liked the vision and mission planning portions of Lord Heritage. I am more of a nuts-and-bolts person than a vision person, so any time I can get some good vision planning help I appreciate it. And while I’d never really thought of our homeschool as being a covenantal relationship, I really love the overall vision and framework that kind of perspective can provide.
Another enormous benefit of HomeSchool Office is that you can record and print yearly transcripts and records for your student’s work. How handy and simple is that?
Cons: Because I reviewed this at about the 1/3 mark of our second semester, I really felt the time pressure as I entered all our lessons and lesson plans. This made getting started rather challenging for me, as I was also learning the ins and outs of how the HomeSchool Office software worked. However, if I were starting out at the beginning of the school year or over semester break, when I normally do my planning, I think that this issue would have been sidestepped. I believe that it was really the lack of time that was my problem.
A year’s subscription to HomeSchool Office can be purchased from Lord Heritage for $79. On the HomeSchool Office page, you can also sign up for a 30-day free trial. This way, you can explore and experience everything I’ve shared with you here–absolutely free!