Sunday, January 02, 2011

Homeschool software woes

I am forever trying to figure out a way to minimize my time spent doing planning and grading for school. I have tried Homeschool Tracker Plus, Homeschool Daybook, Homeschool Inc PERHomeschool SkedTrack, TOS Homeschool Planner to plan and track our school and a really great OpenOffice Calc spreadsheet just to track hours. I did a combination this year since I was spending almost an entire day a week doing our planning on Homeschool Tracker.
Homeschool Tracker Plus  was and is a great program but I got tired of entering each and every lesson, the great little details bogged me down.
 So This year I used TOS Homeschool Planner to plan things out and keep track. It worked well except when it came time to tracking hours. A friend sent me a sheet to check off each hour spent on school since we need to do 1000 hours here in Missouri. I color coded the core and non-core hours and it worked but I could not see how many hours were English or Math. I needed something that I could easily keep track of individual courses and quickly get a running total, enter OO spreadsheet that a dear friend shared with me. I now can easily add in hours and it does all the calculations for me.
I thought I had grading down as TOS Homeschool Planner had a sheet that I was using to put grades for each day in various subjects but doing term grades became very tedious and I knew there had to be a way to enter my daily grades and have my kiddos term grades ready to go. I was trying to find something online or software I could download (or already had) that could allow me to do just that with out entering every single lesson with the grade.
I came across something called Homeschool Minder and downloaded the 30 day trial. It is precisely what I needed. I hesitate to purchase it for a couple of reasons, however. I looked at the forums and was encouraged to see there were not to many unresolved issues but it seems since October there has not been any prompt response to issues. A second hesitation I have is the cost. It is about $40 a year, not something I have come across before. In everything else I have come across it has always been a one time cost. The company also appears to have been sold a few years ago and is now not under the original owners control. I am really stymied as I would love to use this software but can not afford to buy a lemon product.
So now my dilemma is not quite solved but at least I got this terms grades added and now I can figure out what to do for the rest of the year. I would love to hear what you use and how you to track necessary school info. Just leave me a comment with a link to your blog if you have one or just in the comments if you don’t. If you have experience with Homeschool Minder I am especially interested.


Mari said...

hmm, never heard of them. though with only my oldest caring what grades are and where at his grade level grades really matter. he is doing virtual school, so it makes it way easy for me lol. I am relieved of the grading. hopefully someone can help.

Laura O said...

I use HST+ and still love it. I actually need to go spend some time with it tonight to get next week's assignments printed for the boys.

I did find that my first year had me spending a fair amount of time entering in lessons. However, this year has had far less as younger boys have moved up into the work I planned out 3 years ago. Also, I was able to find lesson plans from other users through Yahoo Groups for programs we just started using this past year. They might not be 'perfect' or exactly as I'd have entered it, but they usually work just fine and save me a bunch of time.

I haven't tried Homeschool Minder, but have to admit I wouldn't want to spend $40 every year to use it.

The Adventurer said...

Great reading as I need to use a tracker/planner but haven't done so. I just keep notes on a notebook paper as there are no rules where I live. We might be returning to MO in a couple of years so I guess I better start getting in the habit of tracking hours:)

Deborah said...

I'm a software developer, and a homeschool mom to one ds 11 years old. I'm working on web software to track his work, and I would love to share it (when its finished) and get ideas for it from the homeschool community.

As a starting point, I am giving him "points" for work that he completes, based mostly on the time he spends doing each activity. He enters it himself, and has to earn so many "points" in each subject category before he can go out and play. He can enter it from any computer or cell phone with internet - even in the car.

The second step to this, which I have not yet written, is for me to "approve" his entries.

And I have a separate form for him to enter his daily reading log.

I would love to get ideas from all of you as I write this software, and share it when its finished.

Deb Vorndran,
ideas at cybermom dot biz


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