Saturday, December 26, 2015

2016 Planners

This year I really really debated making or purchasing a planner. While I've purchased many planners over the course of our 11 year homeschool journey none of them have ever been 100% spot on, the closest {for a while} was The Well Planned Day which we used & loved. I've also made many planner adapting the qualities of the purchased planners into one large planner that fits all my needs. The thing is, though, it takes time & effort. The layout & the design tend to be the easy parts & the fun parts, making sure I have no typos, my dates are all in order is another story.

I started working on my 2016 planner halfway through 2015 so we could map out some getaways for the new year, & wouldn't you know I'd made a huge blunder with dates & had to fix that. Which was the deciding moment for me. I put my plans for a new planner on hold & opted to purchase one. I figured I could purchase a planner, spending a nominal amount depending on shipping, or I could spend our entire time off working on a planner. Mr S agreed that purchasing one would be so much better because he'd actually like to see me during his holidays.

I opted to purchase a Plum Paper Large Teacher Planner for our school planner this year. I'm not gonna kid you when I say I did a lot of research on this planner, & many others for that matter. I watched more YouTube videos about this thing.. Did you know there's such a thing as an "unboxing" video for planners? Oh man, there is & some are just.. Yeah, but I did find out the information I was after, & made the purchase.

One of the most amazing things about this planner is that it does not start in July but in January. Truth be told, some people hate this feature, but for a family who homeschools January - December each year we love it. Our new academic years start in January & run with the calendar year, having a planner that does that excites me in absurd ways.

You can also have the cover personalised, I didn't. Yes, you can see my name in the above photo, but that's my personal planner from the same company which I opted to personalise at no extra cost. While our little school does have a name we've never been called upon to use it & so I rather preferred the clean look of just having the year on the front of our school planner.

I thought I'd give a quick tour of the inside of our lovely new planner & a quick overview of our initial thoughts. As school hasn't officially begun I've only given it a test drive so I'll have to come back & update you on our thoughts after we've used this for a term or two.

So let's take a peak.. The first page actually has the typical page for you to write your name & personal details on, I'm skipping a photo of that & moving right into the Year At A Glance Page. I love how big these calendars are! I opted to highlight our terms & circle days I know Mr S will be off work to help me note days we'll be taking off as well. Yes, we really do 4-10 week terms each year..

Each month has some nifty space to jot down things on the back of the divider. I opted to snap a photo before filling in goals {character & habit training}. I've marked our term start date & the local public school terms. I often like to refer to when the local kids are in & out of school for our own personal get-aways or day trips, library runs, or just a day at the pool. There's a note page at the beginning & end of each month that I'm debating using for goals achieved by the kids, funny things they say, or just a journal of how our days/weeks are going. We'll see what happens.

The monthly calendar is a 2 page spread which I love, in my homemade planner last year I'd made a 2 day spread for it as well to give more room in our boxes for writing. I found some freebie stickers online to mark Aussie Holidays as this planner only has US holidays marked. I've marked our intended slow start back for Term 1 which has all ready changed once since taking this photo & will likely change again.. thus why it's in pencil! I mark weeks "on" in pencil on the monthly spreads as well incase we should opt to take a week off. I may, or may not, go back & mark days. Despite having teens they were disappointed we didn't do something fun to mark our 100th day of school last year. I'm debating surprising them with a fun day our, but who knows what the year will bring. 

Each week is a large 2 page spread too, which I love. Many pre-printed planners only have small areas to write in & I find that we have to make up acronyms for everything or else nothing fits. On my "test drive" I found I didn't have to do that at all & could easily fit everything into the boxes which really delighted me. The skinny boxes on the far left are blank, I opted not to pay extra to have subjects written in. In the past on my home planners I've written in our subjects & then if we finish a subject for a term/year I find myself feeling the need to skip a perfectly good section I could be writing in. I figured this way it was wide open & we could do whatever pattern we wanted. The weekends are small, but I'm not fussed by that, generally the only schooling that happens on weekends are science labs, if needed. 

Each month proceeds exactly in the same fashion & then there are 3 further sections in the back. The first one is dubbed "My Class", & it's a section I'll have very little need for. As I told Mr S, "If I don't know my student's addresses & parents we've got problems." There's also a behavioral  log in there as well as pages to keep track of any medical problems students may have.

There's also a place for logging birthdays & then another Year At A Glance page. This one has room to write things down vs just highlighting dates. I may mark down specific books or studies we want to do in a term, dates we may be on/off, etc. In general, though, this is likely one of the only pages in the section I'll use. I didn't consider, until after I'd purchased the planner, to request that this section of pages be sent along but kept out of the planner. That may sound odd, but the lovely people over at Plum Paper are fantastic about being obliging to personal requests.

I added on a section of check-list pages. I had a few ideas in mind for uses for these & so I was happy to pay the extra $1 to have them added in. I've taken 2 of the checklists & all ready broken them down into 4 terms on one side & blank on the reverse. The front side, as you can see, will have curriculum for a child written on it & the pages, or lessons, aimed to be accomplished per term. We'll adjust as needed as we go along. I generally make a spreadsheet of this information at the start of each year which makes weekly planning a breeze. It also helps the kids to look over things & see where they could be in each subject if they broke it down in sensible chunks. The thicker blue line is some washi tape I had & I wrote on it with a white pen.  The blank side of each child's checklist will be used to keep track of books read over the course of the year. I'll be using the remainder of the checklists for a variety of things from book basket books to habits we want to set in motion this year. I know some people like to use the section for grades, but I don't know that I'll bother with that to be honest.

The final section is a notes section, again something I paid to add on. I need notes sections in my planners, & ample amounts of them too! I jot down books, movies, cds, library lists, art projects, science kits, challenges.. You name it, & it pretty much ends up in this section of my planner. In the very back is a 2017 At A Glance page {1 page spread} & 2 pages of stickers. Those stickers are made to fit the weekly planning boxes. There's also, all though I didn't snap a photo, a pocket in the back of the planner that is two sided. I kinda love my planner pockets & often try to put one in my homemade ones too. What goes in them is anyone's guess, just papers I need to keep track of during the school year..

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