Today we are talking about the top 5 online homeschool planners currently available and why you might want to consider using one. Several years ago I began researching online homeschool planners as my girls began using computers during their school day. As I began researching online planners, I realized just how many different options were available. It was overwhelming.
At the time, I compared 15 different planners and shared my findings on Cornerstone Confessions. Amazingly, that post blew up and even today remains one of my most visited blog posts. However, the information on that post is definitely outdated so today we are going to do our best to remedy that.
Before we begin, let’s look at the different contenders considered for today’s top 5 list. They are the:
- Flexible Homeschool
- Homeschool Manager
- Homeschooling Records
- Homeschool Minder
- Homeschool Panda
- Homeschool Planet
- Homeschool Skedtrack
- Well-Planned Gal Digital Planner
- Homeschool Tracker
Although the names have changed quite a bit over the past 7 years, there are a few planners who have stood the test of time and remain at the top of my list. By the way, you will find a complete list of all 12 online planners compared in preparation for today’s show in the transcript found on TheHomeschool5in10.com. There you will also find a detailed table outlining the key features of each. So let’s take a look at my top 5 online homeschool planners.
The 5 Best Online Homeschool Planners
1. Homeschool Planet
Homeschool Planet remains near the top of my list even 7 years later because of their amazing lesson plan marketplace and overall ease of use. It is one online lesson planner that has stood the test of time and continues to thrive. While it does not provide a way to log in with a social media account, it offers nearly every other feature imaginable including the ability to add web links and pdf files right into the lesson plan. In fact, this is the planner that may appear overwhelming if you don’t need all the features. So let’s take a look at some of my favorite features of Homeschool Planet.
Easily assign and Bump Lessons
When I initially reviewed the Homeschool Planet back in 2015, a few features I was looking for in a homeschool planner was the ability to mass assign lessons and easily bump lessons when needed. I also wanted a student log-in portal or app so that the girls could access their daily assignment checklist on a mobile device. Finally, I wanted a multiple student assignment scheduler so I could quickly assign family assignments once instead of individually for each child. Homeschool Planet more than met my needs. In fact, I still think Homeschool Planet has one of the most user-friendly mobile student views of all the planners I have reviewed.
Homeschool Planet also allows you to personalize your dashboard experience to include everything from to-do and shopping lists (which you can text or email yourself later) to weather updates and even daily Bible verses. Their platform tries to cover everything a homeschool parent may be trying to balance during the day not JUST homeschool planning as they know homeschool planning can easily be influenced by other activities.
Finally, of all the online planners we are discussing today, Homeschool Planet probably offers my favorite weekly calendar view with its color coding and ease to checkmark things when complete.
2. Homeschool Panda
This planner is new to the market of online homeschool planners, but it enters the scene with a powerful punch. In fact, I’m not sure there is much this newbie can’t handle. It offers all those traditional features you would expect from a high performing homeschool planner including monthly, weekly, and daily calendar views, Google calendar integration, and a multiple student scheduler.
Like Homeschool Planet, they offer a lesson plan marketplace where you can go to automatically import lesson plans of common curricula but the big plus with Homeschool Panda is that those pre-created lesson plans are free to download with a pro subscription vs. individually paid for via add-ons as is the case with Homeschool Planet. That said, Homeschool Planet does appear to offer more curriculum options at this juncture than Homeschool Panda, but I could see that changing in the near future.
Another feature that Homeschool Panda excels in is its book tracker. It has every advantage of Libib or Goodreads built right into the platform. You can search the database to read summaries of thousands of books, scan in books from your bookshelves using your cell phone, create custom bookshelves, keep track of what you want to read or have read, and assign books to your children all within the book tracker.
Homeschool Panda’s budget and expense tracker is also the best I’ve seen. With it you can keep track of how much you spend by category, by student, and like an envelope system, you can keep track when you have reached your allotted max for a student or subject. You can even attach images of your receipts or products to your expenses for future reporting.
Finally, Homeschool Panda offers one thing right within its platform that I haven’t seen with any other planner, and that is a connection platform where parents can connect with other like-minded families. While this is a fairly new planner, I can see the benefit of having an internal connection platform like this, especially as other connection avenues like Facebook tend to become more restrictive.
All that said, there are a couple of improvements I would like to see in Homeschool Panda going forward including how lessons are assigned within a schedule and the friendliness of their app. While I have not had any issues with the app personally, the app stores are filled with mixed reviews of a glitchy app. Reviewers comment how the app often crashes and at times doesn’t even open at all.
And as far as how lessons are assigned, they are assigned to a specific time of day like 9 a.m. for example. I feel like that is a bit public school and not necessarily homeschool friendly. You can assign an assignment to an entire day, but it tends to make the calendar view look imbalanced. The daily and weekly views also start at 12 a.m. so you have to scroll down a long way to get to the hours you would typically assign subjects. That’s a lot of unnecessary scrolling.
Multiple Pricing Options
Those potential negatives aside, Homeschool Panda is doing a lot right, and I could see it quickly becoming the top go-to homeschool planner with a few more tweaks. There are also couple of pricing options with Homeschool Panda that make it appealing. For example, if you don’t need the transcript, budget, or lesson plan marketplace options, the cost is $30 cheaper annually than a pro subscription. So it is worth experimenting to see what features you will actually use before committing to a subscription.
3. Lesson Trek
Lesson Trek is probably the most under-appreciated online planner. I’ve talked with the creator of Lesson Trek several times and every time I’ve been impressed with his heart and desire to help homeschool families make planning easy. He is always trying to improve Lesson Trek to not only keep up with the competition but exceed beyond it.
When you look at reviews of Lesson Trek, simple and intuitive are two words you will see a lot. In fact, one reviewer even commented that while there are not a lot of tutorials available, the program is so easy to use that most tutorials are unnecessary. Lesson Trek’s drag and drop feature is among my favorite on the market. With one click you can drag and drop assignments from one day to another.
Great for the Weekly Planner
In line with being more streamlined, you won’t find elite features like automatic schedule shuffling, the ability to add pdf files to your assignments, or a monthly calendar view. However, if you are a weekly planner as opposed to an annual planner, Lesson Trek will work great for you.
4. Well-Planned Day Online
This is probably the planner that impressed me the most this go round. The initial set-up was by far the most user-friendly. It also has a curriculum marketplace that made importing easy and is currently free like Homeschool Panda, although again, currently more limited than Homeschool Planet.
Like Homeschool Panda, Well-Planned Day Online tries to consider all the working functions of a homeschool parent by including things like a meal planner where you can drag and drop meals or recipes, and a checklists planner which you can use to assign checklists to multiple people or just one individual. This checklist feature would be great for chore lists, book lists, or even curriculum shopping lists.
One feature unique to Well-Planned Day Online is the ability to capture special moments in a yearbook whether that be short posts, video clips, or photos. Unfortunately, once you add these moments to your Well-Planned Day yearbook, there is, as of yet, no way to make your virtual yearbook a keepsake for years to come.
Color choices are more limited than other planners to fit in with the pastel color scheme of Well-Planned Gal’s paper planners. Load times for certain tasks also seemed to be a little slower than others.
However, one plus for the Well-Planned Day Online planner is that it does offer a free version if you are willing to put up with ads and don’t need certain pro features like a student login, calendar, meals, checklists, yearbook, or reports.
5. The Homeschool Tracker
Back in 2015 when I compared planners, the Homeschool Tracker and Homeschool Planet were neck-in-neck. These days Homeschool Tracker’s interface appears a bit dated when compared to others on this list, and it’s also the only one on this list that is not necessarily mobile friendly. However, it is a powerhouse as far as what it can do too. It contains 3 different transcript options, has some of the most customizable lesson plan views available on any platform, as well as the most customizable reporting options.
One of my favorite features is the ability to see a list of all the assignments concisely written for the entire year and the ability to sort those assignments according to different criteria I choose. Lesson plans can also be reused for multiple students concurrently or over different years, and you can share your lesson plans with other Homeschool Tracker users. Due to all the customizable options, it does contain a steeper learning curve, but there are several tutorials available on YouTube to make it easier. Unfortunately, Homeschool Tracker doesn’t have a free trial when compared to the competition so you will want to check out the video tutorials first to make sure this is the planner for you.
To sum it up, there are several amazing online planners available depending on your needs and wants. If you are wanting a highly customizable lesson planner, I recommend Homeschool Tracker. For an intuitive and easy to learn weekly planner, I suggest Lesson Trek. If the option to record memories and menu plan are important to you, look at the Well-Planned Day Online Planner. And for everyone else, I’d check out Homeschool Planet or Homeschool Panda as they currently offer the most features and will fit most homeschool families’ needs.
By the way, if you don’t want to pay an annual fee, but you’d still like online access to a planner, consider creating one using Google Sheets. You can download a free gradebook template on Five J’s and a free planner template on Cornerstone Confessions. Quite frankly, this is the way I have chosen to go because I like simple, and it is very easy for me to cut-and-paste and view the year at-a-glance. Whatever planner you choose to use to organize your homeschool this year, I hope this comparison helps you find the best fit for your family.