The Homeschool Skedtrack website says it is a, “FREE online lesson planner, scheduler, and tracking system rolled into one.” It certainly does more than just lesson planning. You can either plan lessons in advance, or record work after it has been completed. It keeps track of hours and days if you need attendance info for your reporting. It will also generate reports and logs such as report cards and transcripts. With one high school student and three others who are making their way up there, I’m glad to have found something that helps me easily take care of this, as we go.
Paper and pencil scheduling used to be my way. The problem with that was, by the end of the first week, everything already needed to be reconfigured. That can be a lot of writing to do over! I tried several different computer scheduling methods, including Excel spreadsheets and software. The problem I had with them was that adjusting the schedule was still tedious and time consuming. Rescheduling with Homeschool Skedtrack is easy because activities that aren’t completed automatically get pushed to the next day, along with all of the following activities. I have been using it for the last three years, and plan to continue with it.
I need a lesson planner to be extremely flexible and adaptable. I never use a curriculum the way it’s presented. I pool and combine resources and change up everything. The result is that I try to cover far more material that we realistically can cover. We are never going to finish everything that I scheduled for one day! I’m OK with that, but the other scheduling methods I’ve used are not.
With Homeschool Skedtrack you can make quarterly or yearly subject plans. With subject lesson plans, you decide how many days each week you will study a subject. That times the number of weeks in the quarter or year tells you how many assignments you will assign. Divide the course work to be covered among the number of assignments. Based on which days you schedule subjects, the program automatically combines activities for each calendar day. If you don’t get to history one day, that activity automatically moves to the next day. Each of the subjects that you completed advance to the next day, independently of the others. It is even possible to make a course group, so that you can have assignments within a single subject advance by themselves. For instance, you might want to assign different texts to be worked through at their own pace. You can merge and re-sequence activities if you find that you want to group them differently.
The different view possibilities make it convenient for me to look ahead and keep a running to-do list for myself. If the kids have to wait while I’m fussing with the printer or searching for an item for a science experiment, we all loose our focus, and it seems to throw the flow of momentum off for the whole day.
The program also lends itself to learning responsible study skills to older children who are starting to work more independently. They can log themselves in, see their own schedule for the day, and check items off as they are completed.
There is a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to use Homeschool Skedtrack. It also takes quite a while to get everything set up, both for the first time, and also for each new year. I save so much time from the planning, that I don’t mind the initial time investment. If I could change anything about this program, I would change two things. First, I would make a teacher calendar view, so that you can see the daily schedule for each of your students on one page. I do waste a bit of time waiting for pages to load as I’m switching back and forth. Second, I would make it easier to batch edit activities.
Possibly my favorite feature of this program is the ability to use HTML code. I will be writing more about how I do that in future posts.