Disclaimer: I have not received any compensations for writing this post. All views and opinions expressed are my own.
Good evening! Tonight I’d like to share with you the website I use to plan my daily lessons, schedule my school days for the year — including breaks — and keep track of grades — though at The Boy’s current age, I’m really only using this for myself to see which areas need extra practice and to be able to easily track progress within each subject.
There are a plethora of planning materials and options available out there, but the one I have landed on so far (and will likely continue using for a while) is Homeschool Skedtrack. I have used Homeschool Skedtrack to plan all of our preschool activities for this year, as well as to define specific times when I want to take breaks (because if I didn’t, The Boy would ask me every day if we could have school).
In regards to my thoughts on how Homeschool Skedtrack has been working for us, I find that a simple Pros/Cons list is the easiest way to explain it to you. (This will be my first attempt at a Pros/Cons blog post, so here goes…)
- It’s FREE (possibly the best Pro on the list, especially for families homeschooling on a small budget)
- Video Tutorials are available to explain how to do pretty much anything the site allows you to do
- It tracks attendance, grades, the number of hours/days in the year, and lesson plans for each student.
- It allows you to schedule the school year, days off, holidays, and field trips exactly when you want (so it will work for homeschoolers who follow the traditional school calendar year, school year round, or anything in between)
- Grades are calculated automatically according to the grading scale you determine
- There’s a Resource section for each course so you can input everything you will need for that course during the year
- Report cards and high school transcripts can be generated directly from the courses or if you prefer to manually create them, there’s that option as well
- After an activity/lesson has been completed and checked off, the site will automatically bring up the next lesson the following day — OR on the flip side if there is a lesson that the student didn’t get to that day, simply leave the task unchecked and the software will continue bringing it up each day until the task is marked as complete. (I particularly like this aspect of the site because there’s no crossing out or rearranging of lessons like you’d have in a traditional lesson planner when you ran out of time for something.)
- You can keep track of the lessons and progress of multiple students.
- You have the ability to print out the plans for each week for each student
- You can create logins for each student so that older students can access their daily and weekly tasks independently (less work for the teacher/parent)
- It has the ability to predict when the student will finish the available activities for each course
- There is a bit of a learning curve in regards to learning how to maximize the effectiveness of the site. Although I am grateful that there are tutorial videos available, there have been a few times in the past when I’ve been frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted to do.
- Having multiple students to keep track of has the potential to become frustrating. As far as I can tell, there is no way to view the plans for multiple students all at the same time; you can only toggle between the plans for each individual student by using the dropbox available for this purpose. I currently am only tracking information for one child, but based on the way the site is set up, I think it would be difficult to keep track of a large number of students, which means it probably works best for small families.
- I have occasionally found that it is difficult to plan for a school year in which the school days change days of the week. (This may be something that only effects a small number of families, but as I have personally dealt with this issue, it tends to fall into the Con category for me.) We have school 4 days a week and my husband works at a job where his schedule can change from month to month, including which days of the week are his off days. Since we tend to get more accomplished in our school day when Hubby is not home because there are fewer distractions, that means the 4 days a week that we have school can change from month to month. The easiest way I have found so far to get around this is to schedule each course for 5 days a week (because we don’t ever have school on the weekends), and then go through month by month to add a “Day Off” for the 1 day each week that my husband has off that month. It works, but can sometimes be frustrating to manage.
- In the section that allows you to add and edit multiple lessons at a time, there is no way (that I have found) to insert multiple lessons of a type other than the default, which is Regular. Any activity listed as the Regular type doesn’t receive a grade, so if you have something that you want to be graded, you have to change the Lesson Type to something else. Some of the other options available include Quiz, Test, Workbook, etc. If you have a particular subject that involves a lot of workbook/worksheets that need to be graded (like say, math), you can’t, for example, insert 50 new Workbook lessons. You can insert 50 new Regular lessons at once, but then you have to go through each of those 50 lessons individually and change their Type to be Workbook. Again, not a deal breaker when it comes to free software — at least not for me — but it can be frustrating and time consuming to click each dropdown box and change it to the Type you want.
I think those are the main points that I have discovered during my time of using Homeschool Skedtrack. For the most part, I am pleased with the way Skedtrack has been working for us. It’s fairly easy to manage and for the cost (which is nothing), it includes a lot more options than one would normally expect.
I have no plans at this point to switch to a different way of tracking things, but if I did find some other free or low-cost option that was easier, I wouldn’t be opposed to giving it a try.
I hope this review has been helpful and informative to you. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.