Thursday, March 26, 2015

HomeSchool Office - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew

In early February I learned that I had been selected to review HomeSchool Office, a product Lord Heritage
HomeSchool Office Review

I was really happy to be selected because in my state I am reviewed annually, and my record-keeping abilities, even after all these years, leave something to be desired. I am hoping HomeSchool Office will not only help us to stay on track in our daily plans, but will also help me to get my portfolio together when it comes time for my year-end review.

I received an email telling me how to register for my account. My email was different than what you would get in that I was being given an account to review. You would be purchasing their product from their website, and then you would receive an email with further instructions.

So, the initial email has been like gold to me. Whenever I go back to make changes to my plans on the HomeSchool Office program, I find I have forgotten what to do, where to go... The initial email takes me by the hand, says, "Go to ...(website) and click on ...(link)". So I am very careful with that email. If you're wondering, I'm an older mom -- at that age where I walk into a room and have to stop to remember why I am there, and sometimes retrace my steps to get recollection of what I was about to do. ::sigh::

So after the initial registration and creation of my account (which would be the same for you), the email told me a code to enter for "Payment" - where you would enter a credit card number. Once that is done, you log in, which takes you to the "Home" screen for the program - it has the above picture of the girl on the rock with Jeremiah 29:11.

The email then explained their method for you to contact them if you need help (start a "Support Ticket"). The next thing you do is go to their section called "Knowledge Base", which teaches you everything you need to know to set up your database. I found it helpful to have two windows going simultaneously so that each time I watched a video for what to do next, I could go do it immediately. (These days my short-term memory is really short!)

So I found it most helpful for me to get this started on a day when I could really focus on it. If you are the same way, maybe you could get hubby to take the kids somewhere on a Saturday while you set it up. Or, if you do it during the summer, do it in spurts while the kids are outside playing.

Once I was set up, it was time-consuming, but a joy, to determine for each course where I am (trying to forget where I should have been), and plot out daily assignments for what my son should do each day in Algebra, Biology, Literature, etc. For certain subjects I plotted things out all the way to the end of the school year (Algebra and Biology), where the assignment schedule is very clear. For other subjects I am entering the assignments as we go (Literature, History, Bible, Art, etc.). The program is so smart that it keeps telling me that I have not entered enough assignments for the student for the year. Well, it is going to say that this year because I am not prepared to go back and fill in what we did from September until February.

Next I really appreciated being able to record the test grades. Now we're cooking like real school! I mean, I don't have a grade book like my teachers used to have. When I give my student a test, he takes it, I grade it, I give it back to him, and then I need it back for his portfolio. I am constantly stressing over, "Where is test #5?", not so much for the portfolio review but for calculating his grade. Now, instead, I record his test score in HomeSchool Office. Then, if a test is missing later at least I have the grade to calculate his final grade for his transcript. The portfolio reviewer needs samples of his work throughout the year, but does not need to see all his tests or anything so specific as that.

In addition to keeping track of grades that I give my student on assignments, HomeSchool Office also keeps track of days attended. I am able to indicate a day as a holiday that we do school on -- how cool is that? I mean, we do not take all the same holidays as our local public school. If we have a sudden change of schedule, like pretend a relative goes into the hospital and school (or certain subjects) doesn't happen -- you can easily bump the entire schedule forward a day or merge with the next day. (I haven't used that feature yet, so I won't attempt to describe how you do it, but the instructions were very clear.)

HomeSchool Office has you set up separate calendars per student and/or per topic, as fits your needs. I have one calendar for my one student. I have another calendar for his Boy Scout troop's activities. I have a calendar for medical appointments. I have another calendar for product review due dates. I am now able to have, all in one place, super-imposed or merged, our school schedule, medical appointments, Boy Scout activities, review due dates -- everything and anything that I want to combine that is important to me, as much or as little as I want to see at one time. I can reduce the schedule to show just my son's school work, or add one or two or all other calendars to avoid conflicts. I love it!

The picture above is smaller than actual size, but it gives you the idea. Here is the actual size on my screen, showing you part of my week:
It's not perfect; I've left stuff out (Art...) and have not entered specific assignments in all subjects, which causes them to not show up on the "To Do" list, but I know how to fix that when I can take the time.

When I open my page to my HomeSchool Office, the current day is always highlighted in orange (see above), and the school assignments show in a list down the right side of the calendar in a specific "To Do" list. I have it set up so I can see exactly, "Test on Module 6", or "Read history pages 85-92". It is wonderful! And if I want to give my son a head's up as to when the next Algebra test is, I look forward on the calendar and find it. It is working so well for me!

The student is also able to log in using their own ID. This gives each student their own assignment calendar and "To Do" list for the day. They are not able to change their grades -- the grades can only be entered from the teacher's log in page. I haven't been using this feature - only one student, and I won't go into other reasons. (Another ::sigh::)

I had a bumpy time getting started with this program, because I needed that quiet day to wrap my brain around it all. Now that I am up and running, I am totally loving it. This is a program that I will seriously consider continuing to use until my son graduates high school in another three years. I have really needed HomeSchool Office, and I am so glad I have had the opportunity to try it out and get to know it.

So, guess what! You yourself can actually get HomeSchool Office to try out for free for 30 days! Now, I'm seriously warning you -- don't start the trial until you have the time to focus on this. It needs time and your brain, or you might hate it, and I don't want you to hate it. So consider it, and consider when you can try it, and then give it a go. I hope you like it!

HomeSchool Office was reviewed by other Crew members as well. To read other reviews of Lord Heritage's HomeSchool Office, click the button below.

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