An online program that can help you both plan and track your student's various assignments will need to be highly customizable. I found My School Year to be that and more. It has a lot of features and choices. Some of those I may not actually use during the upcoming school year, but I tried several of them so I could give you an overview.
Homeschool planningTo start with, let's talk about planning. Many homeschool parents have a general idea of what they want to accomplish each year, and that is a good start. The actual nitty-gritty comes in when you need to adapt a curriculum's suggested lesson plans to your actual life! Because this opportunity to review the online homeschool record keeping arrived just after Arlene had completed her schoolwork and was beginning her summer vacation, I got a little creative on her assigned "classes" so I could experiment on the various types of scheduling. I decided to use her 4-H projects, and her spinning (wool, not bikes,) for her volunteer job as her classes. My School Year gave me the option to choose subjects (from their list or to create my own,) and then list classes under each subject. If you're wondering why it asks for subject first, it is because My School Year can track the time necessary to complete the lessons, and from that create reports and a transcript.
If you live in a state that requires record keeping on time spent in each subject, this feature of My School Year could be quite valuable. Once you've assigned a student subjects and classes, you can enter what you want them to do for each class. I'll be honest that this part took me a little longer than expected to master, but when I went back and re-read the email mini-lesson on scheduling it made more sense! I had options to have Arlene work for a specified amount of time, or to complete the next assignment. I now have reports that easily show me how far along she is in her Summer term assignments based upon if she completed each day's lesson time. If I've forgotten to check in and mark her lessons as completed, My School Year will remind when I login so I can mark them as completed, or choose to reschedule the lessons.
Homeschool record keepingThe record keeping part of My School Year is simple, and creates great "show and tell" reports for you. The program will walk you through adding in books read, field trips taken, and awards won for each school year. If Arlene was doing a traditional class, like Math, instead of her 4-H projects, My School Year would allow me to weight her assignments and tests towards her final grade. Then it would let me transfer her class to her transcript when it was completed. Yeah, it's pretty simple, but profoundly helpful all at the same time. For grading, you can use a letter based or number based system, or a pass/fail grade. You can adjust the low/high percentage for the various grades assigned, and yes, it will even calculate a GPA for you.
One thing I really thought smart about the program is that each week, it would send me an email early each Monday morning (like 3 a.m.) to remind me of Arlene's upcoming assignments. If you have several students, this could be a great way to have it give you a checklist for what needs to get accomplished each week without pulling out your various papers every morning.
Overall, if you are looking for an online program to help you with your homeschool planning and record keeping, I think this one from MySchoolYear.com is definitely one to try out. For myself, I don't know yet if we will continue to use it for Arlene this Fall, as I've always been a paper and pencil type of planner. I think I'm spoiled because our state does not require a lot of annual reports about hours and subjects covered. If it did, I would definitely plan on continuing with My School Year because it is fairly simple to use after you get the hang of the initial set up.
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