Review by Maria Rioux
The Complete Catholic Homeschool Planner is just that: it organizes everything you need to plan the year, and then some. It opens with a school year calendar, for this year and for next, so one can easily determine what date one would like to start, when to schedule breaks, and when to close out the year.
I really like the simple overview, with all the dates for the whole year on one page, both sides. One can then easily determine the number of school days per month, number for each quarter, and total number of days for the year. This, of course, is essential in planning out the syllabus for each child. I've never actually planned out our school year in this way as we always follow my husband's teaching schedule, which works best for us as some of our children attend the same college were he teaches. If he were not a professor with a built in teaching schedule, this simple way to concretely plan out the year, month by month, would give me peace while also keeping me honest at those times when I would be tempted to ditch the plan.
For each child there is an opening page to help you consider the best approach/how to tailor this year to his particular strengths and weaknesses. Like the year plan, it's a simple overview: learning style, strengths, weaknesses, goals, subject to over, programs/curricula of interest, books to use, and a place for additional notes all on one page. It's a great way to reflect on the individual child before drafting a plan for him. There is then a section to, in a general way, plan out the year, then each quarter(referred to as term), followed by weekly outline forms and a page for notes. In another section there are forms for daily lesson plans, starting with an overview for the month and followed by forms for detailed daily lesson planning. There is a separate section for grading, organized by daily grades and quarter test grades. It makes record keeping a snap, with everything in one place: the yearly plan neatly broken down but tailored to each child, followed by an accounting of his accomplishments. It would give one a concrete sense of the progress the child is making, as well as a sense of where he might be struggling and what might need tweaking/extra attention.
The Complete Catholic Homeschool Planner supplies extra forms: attendance forms, and a student page I really like. I wish I had thought to do something like this when we were starting homeschooling 24 years ago. It records the height, weight, signature, likes, dislikes, and personal goals for the beginning and end of the school year, and separating the two is a spot to put a picture. It is such a lovely idea. Not only would I have treasured such a record, I think our children would have enjoyed seeing the changes over the years.
There are also forms for extracurricular activities, music, reading, audio/visual and website logs, as well as forms for planning the coming year: books and topics to consider, and notes. I like the contact pages at the end of the planner, because I could have the names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of all my homeschooling friends all in one place.
Best of all, it is wonderfully Catholic. There is a whole section titled, "For the Love of God". It begins with a list of prayers, each geared toward ordering the day to doing the will of God with love and obedience. There are those which focus upon the child, the mother, the family and one's husband, plus novenas. There are prayers I was familiar with, but some I expected to know yet had never heard before, and now plan to say at the end of each day. For example, An Act of Contrition:
Forgive me my sins, O Lord, forgive me my sins; the sins of my youth, the sins of my age, the sins of my soul, the sins of my body; my idle sins, my serious voluntary sins, the sins I know, the sins I do not know, the sins I have concealed so long, and which are now hidden from my memory. I am truly sorry for every sin, mortal and venial, for all the sins of my childhood up to the present hour. I know my sins have wounded Thy tender Heart, O my Savior. Let me be freed from the bonds of evil through Thy most bitter passion, O my Redeemer. Amen. O Jesus, help me with Thy grace to avoid all sin. Amen.The feast days of the saints are listed (according to the traditional calendar). There is a section for recording your prayer intentions, virtues to work on, as well as your plan to concretely work on those virtues.
Lastly, on each page of the daily lesson plans there is an inspirational quote from a saint. Some will be familiar, but some were certainly new to me and perfect for mothers, fathers, and children alike. For example:
Consider every day that you are then, for the first time, as it were, beginning; and always act with the same fervor as on the first day you began.The Complete Catholic Homeschool Planner supplies enough forms for five students. If that is not enough, permission is granted to print more for the school year. It is spiral bound and very sturdy.
~ St. Anthony of Padua.
The cover is beautiful: Mary with the Child Jesus cradled in one arm, and a spotless lamb in the other. Both the front cover and the back are of glossy card stock, and the various sections are separated by tabbed dividers for ease of use. They're strong and capable dividers, too, and will stand the test of time and use. You could take this around with you everywhere and it would hold up.
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