I have to admit, organization has never been a strong suit of mine. Especially in the home. So I have to confess; I kind of struggled with this one. When I was given the opportunity to review HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage, I was not doing any cartwheels or shouting for joy. I was worried – nervous and stressed out – this one was going to be a real challenge for me.
If you are not familiar with this program, Lord Heritage is an online homeschool planning center that is accessible via a wide variety of platforms. I received a full year’s access to HomeSchool Office for this review. There are lots of great details for learning all about this program too on at their website on the pages for Product Features and Purpose and Sample Pages. This is a fully online program however you are able to print if you (like me) prefer to use the traditional paper and pen.
When you first login to this program you will be in the “planning center ” From there you find a number of tabs that can be used to better organize your planning and record keeping. These are based upon the acronym P.O.W.E.R. :
In the Home tab family messages can be posted, along with an encouraging scripture and image. The Team tab on the other hand, is where you record all of the information about your “team”. This is where you can see subjects and hours required, as assigned to each child in your “school.” This could be quite handy I think for someone with multiple children with varying levels of study, maybe if you are using a variety of materials and subjects. But for us I admit this was a bit frustrating for us; between needing to enter everything individually and our more laid back approach to home education in general, I admit, I was at a loss as to how to really get the most out of this one.
If you look at the Plan tab, you see where you can input and maintain information about your school year, a master schedule (I don’t think we ever had one of those), subjects, projects, and even a page for you to manage finances and make sure you don’t go over your budget. This is my husband’s thing; he is big on financial management for our home and school.
Then there are the Order and Work tabs where you find calendars; you can even make a “to-do” list. I cannot tell you the last time I made a list and actually used it. I often have a plan when I start each day, but its fluid and between the three kiddos, a challenging pregnancy (almost over) and life in general, it’s rare that I get much of anything crossed off these lists. That said, I kind of tend to make them less often now and our days are more, suggestions, of what ought to be done (for kids and myself) but we have loosened up enough that when a list goes missing or just gets neglected, its okay.
There is also a tab for Evaluate. This is where you input grades and student progress, attendance….I cannot say I manage any of these strictly. I have to say the requirements to homeschool here in Wisconsin, are wonderfully easy to maintain. Since we also are pretty relaxed in our ways, there are very seldom times that we do any form of evaluation. Of course, I may “test” my oldest here and there to make sure he is paying attention and can recall important details in certain things but again, very little pressure. We have time 🙂
How about a place for Reports? Here is where you can create a variety of reports for anything from attendance, hours per subject, goals (okay we do keep goals around here), and there is also a Transcript tab which brings all the details together for you to save or print. I admit, if they were older, I would love this feature. I mean, high school and potential college – there do need to be records at some point. In fact, I think once we are closer to those studies, something like that could be a huge benefit to our family.
I admit though, for me this was still a real struggle. I prefer to spend as little time online as neccessary; all me old school but I love my paper and pen. Also it was rather time consuming for me learning to navigate the many options within this program. Please do not misunderstand me, for someone who has a lot more going on and who needs/wants much more detailed records for their homeschool, this is a wonderful program and you wil be greatly blessed. I just know it. But if you’re anything like me, and if your days are largely the same (predictable and fairly well managed) from one to the next, you probably wouldn’t need this extensive of a program. But if you are curious and want to give this one a try they do offer a free 30-day trial and if you love it, the annual subscription is $79, very reasonable, I think. 🙂