Keeping your homeschooling plan organized is an essential part of homeschooling. Some states require attendance records, while other states require complete portfolios. Knowing your requirements is the first step in managing your homeschool records. However choosing the right tools to use can be daunting. Here are my top picks for homeschool management tools for the tech minded.
I chose to list only electronic tools and not the print based tools. For many of the homeschool families, they are turning to this type of tool as our lives are busy and we need storage of these records without taking up physical space.
Boxadoo is a web app for your homeschool plans. You can create lesson plans, a portfolio and a schedule for each of your students. I liked the option to be able to upload files and connect to links to videos to the portfolio. Here is Florida we are required to keep samples of our student’s work throughout the year. This feature in Boxadoo allows me to scan and then upload my student’s work right into their portfolio. This is a great feature! Boxadoo does so much more than just create a list of tasks. I would take the free two week trial for their premium service and give it a try. Their monthly rate is affordable and well worth it. But, you can always go to the free version. My only concern, is that the transcripts seem to be available for grades 8-12 only. I find that transcripts are needed even in younger grades especially if the student is dual enrolling with a private or public school.
Homeschool Manager is another great choice. I really like the way their website guides you in using their product based on the type of homeschool planner you are. For example if you are adapting planner (aren’t we all?), the website gives you some guidance on the best course of action. This is a great planner for those that are short term, adapting or plan as you go. Long term planners, you might find this program a bit frustrating as there is no reschedule option, but rather a backlog of activities. Keep in mind that you can try this one out for 30 days! I like that they have videos right on their website to show the different aspects of their product. This one is a standout in performance and the people behind this product!
Homeschool Skedtrack is a free option for lesson scheduling and tracking. This could be a part of your portfolio, but I am not sure if you can upload files to create a complete portfolio. It does offer transcripts and report cards as well. From its less than stellar website, you can view video tutorials for using their product. While this is a basic free database for your records, I would make sure it fit your needs considering the support available. Their customer support is by email only and may take up to two days to respond. They do have a forum and extensive FAQs page. I find there is not a large following for this product as seen in the few posts on their forum. It is definitely worth taking the time to see if this product is what you are looking for. They do have a download feature that puts your data into a CSV file. While they make this product available for free, there is the ability to support their product through donation.
MySchooYear.com did not impress me at first glimpse of the website. It was still better than others, but it did not seem modern to me. But remember, I am an instructional technologist, so I expect a great deal from website design. But here’s when it all changed: I watched the tour video about their product. And you know what? I was impressed! The video showed an interface that seemed visually appealing and so easy to navigate. While I have not tried this program, I would move this to the top of the list to try first. They have a portfolio that includes things needed on a transcript – volunteer hours, events, activities, yet they don’t transfer to the transcript printout. The transcript option is not especially to my liking. But the interface is great! Depending on your specific needs, this one might fit the bill. Check out their pricing, it is very affordable. Of course you can take this one for a month free trial.
Homeschool Helper App is built just for your tablet. No subscriptions, just pay for the app (currently at $4.99) and you are all set. The planner is very visually appealing, as it looks just like a tabbed journal or planner. It allows for attendance, lessons and record keeping. I do like the look of this planner app. However, I wonder how one would download a back up of the information. But, it does work with most tablets. There are some good features to this app, but I would look for the type of support and records you need before choosing this one as my main source of record keeping.
Homeschool Minder has a great website and allows access from a browser on your computer and tablet. The video tutorials offered excellent professional support. What impressed me most about this product is their reports. There are many types of reports for everything from field trips to report cards to transcripts. And these reports look professional, not something thrown together or basic. The reports can be printed or shared easily via email. This program seems to be the most customizable. Meaning that when you are entering information such as student information you can enter customizable fields and information. That is a huge plus in my book. Homeschool Minder allows you to develop and enter specific skills or standards for your child specific to a course. For those with learners with special needs, this may be just what you are looking for to document their accomplishment of skills. This program is worth the look. The pricing falls right in line with all the other programs listed here.
I think the grand daddy of all homeschool planners is Homeschool Tracker. Now hold on, I know you may think this one is tedious and you have read the set up has a learning curve. But let me remind you that you have spent countless hours choosing resources and creating a plan for your homeschool. You would never start out on a road trip without a map or GPS. So why not invest the time in setting things up once and then having all your resources, library lists and lesson plans stored in a database to be accessed and rescheduled for other students! You start by entering your resources. Why is this important? In some states one must include a list of all resources in their homeschool portfolio. This was also the case when one of our children was applying to FSU. The admission office asked for a list of all resources used for each high school course listed by title and author. In a matter of minutes I had that report for them for all 9-12 courses in a .pdf and sent via email. They were impressed to say the least! I like the ISBN feature that allows you simply enter the number and it imports the photo and all the details about the book. It was great to finally have a list of our homeschool library as well. You can easily have one of your children do this task too! After setting up your resources, courses, students and school year you are well on your way to a database of lesson plans. These lesson plans are stored in your database by courses. So when you teach British Literature in high school for your oldest child, it can then be used for each of your following children without ever having to enter them again. This program is best suited for any type of homeschooling method. When you purchase your subscription you get access to lesson plans created by other users! So if you use a popular homeschool resource, you are bound to find a lesson plan to import and use. There is a community behind this product and an amazing customer service that cannot be matched!
You have to ask yourself what is most important for you in choosing a homeschool management tool. You need to know what type of planner you are and what your state requires for record keeping. How much customer support do you need? How would you like to access your records? Do you want your children to have a printed task sheet? And do you need the ability to print a transcript or report card? Take the time to educate yourself about record safety and storage. What happens if this company closes shop? Will you have access to your records? And how safe is your information?
There is no one single homeschool planner product that will work for every person and every homeschool. So take the free trials or pay for a single month subscription. It is worth the investment to take the time to try these planners. You have to keep records and it might as well be the best product that serves you and your homeschool well.
There are no referrals or affiliate links in this post. These suggestions and endorsements are my own without any compensation from any company.