For the first year, we just worked on learning to read and basic math. When I decided that I wanted to keep doing school, I knew I would need something to help me plan my lessons and my schedule. I definitely wanted something to keep track of what we had done so I could show it to anyone who wondered what we did all day. In my state, I'm not required to show my records to anyone, but for my peace of mind and in case we ever moved to a different state, I have records.
We started out with Homeschool Tracker Basic. That was a free program and it worked well. It kept track of my attendance and my lessons. After a while and after adding in Chicklette, I wanted some of the features of Homeschool Tracker Plus so we spent the $50 and DH gave it to me for Christmas. Be still, my heart! (Really, the day he gave it to me, I spent several hours playing with the program and seeing what it could do. I was pretty excited.)
With Homeschool Tracker Plus, I have lots of reports that I can print out in case I need to. I also have three different assignment sheets that I can print out for the kids and for me. I've come to prefer the Daily Task List because I can enter in chores, memorization and appointments besides just the assignments I want to complete. That way I can see what needs to be done each day. I usually print the assignment sheets off a week at a time.
I love being able to enter lesson plans and reuse them as needed. For instance, I didn't have to enter in any of the Singapore Math lessons for Chicklette because I had already done it for Racer two years ago. I can also enter in all my history plans and use them for both Chicklette and Racer and Turtle if and when he participates. There are also multiple Yahoo groups that have lesson plans uploaded. I've downloaded a few of them, but often I want to tweak them and it's faster and easier to create my own. I also love the agenda feature where I can plan and see where everyone is supposed to be at any given time.
Homeschool Tracker Plus has a great feature to reschedule assignments. Let's say you get sick and don't do an assignment on the day you had it scheduled. You can tell Homeschool Tracker to select all of the math assignments for one child and move them to another day. You can tell it to only use Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays, or just push them all back a day or two. It also has a great feature for repeating assignments. For instance, we go to the library every Tuesday for storytime so I schedule that in and mark it as language arts. I also have Racer, and soon Chicklette, practicing the piano every day. I schedule them under music and make it to repeat every day. I can put in what book they are practicing out of and what assignment they have after I have assigned practicing the piano every day.
There are lots of other features and ways to customize the program to how you homeschool. They also have a great support staff and discussion boards where you can post questions or search to see if your question has already been addressed. We have our Homeschool Tracker Plus networked on our computers and the kids can see what is assigned but they cannot mark it as completed or move anything around. The password-protected teacher is the only one who has access to the scheduling and lesson plans and other sensitive areas. Racer likes to tinker with programs (like father, like son) and I don't want him messing up all my hard work. This can be customized too and students can be granted access to other locations.
There are some things about the program that I think are a little clunky and it's not as pretty as some of those homeschool planners you print off. But the features and flexibility that I have outweigh a paper planner any day.
Recently, the company added an online option for the Homeschool Tracker program. I have been tempted by that because there are times where it would be convenient to access Homeschool Tracker from a location other than home. However, it's $50 a year and I like having the program on my computer and backed up on my hard drive. If our internet doesn't work or the phone line goes out, I can still use my Tracker. With the network capability I can access it from any computer. Racer can be on his computer and see his assignments and I can be on my computer adding his grade in or checking on where Chicklette is supposed to be working.
So if I have convinced you to get organized and keep your homeschool plates spinning, here is a link to purchase or look at the programs. Or click on the buttons and use the referral code FFY4D.