- Reviewed on Friday, November 9, 2012
- Grades Used: 1-4
- Dates used: 2012
First the costs: There are different versions of Homeschool Tracker. There is an online version (Homeschool Tracker Online) and two downloadable versions (HST Basic and HST Plus). HST Basic is free but very...basic. HST Plus is around $50 but then you have it on your computer forever. The Online version costs roughly the same per year as the one-time download of HST Plus. You can subscribe to the online version for one month at at time if you want to try it out. You can also download a 30 day trial version of Plus for $5 (the cost of download applies to your final purchase if you decide to go ahead and buy it).
Ease of use: After I decided the Online version wasn't very user-friendly, I tried the Plus version. Much better. It takes some messing around with to fully get the hang of it but if you have any experience with bookkeeping programs at all (like QuickBooks or something similar) you will probably be very familiar with it within a few hours. It then takes HOURS to enter in all of your lesson plans. That being said, it should save you more than that time throughout the year. If you are starting in the middle of the year, you can backdate things to get the whole year in the program. We try to be very flexible in our homeschool...which means that I do A LOT of rescheduling. Previously, I did all of this by hand. This results in me feeling like I've wasted a bunch of time planning and writing things down only to change them later. With this, rescheduling is as simple as dragging and dropping. You can enter all of your lessons up front and then simply schedule them when you are ready. If you are a planner you can schedule the whole year. If you like to be more flexible you can schedule a week at a time.
My favorite feature: With multiple kids, sometimes it is hard to keep track of where they all are in their Language Arts and Math books. This makes it easy. Just pick the next however many assignments you want and enter them into the schedule. Then at the beginning of the week you can print off a schedule. You get one page per student all laid out by subject and day of the week. As you go through the week, you can check things off as you do them, write down extras, or draw arrows and move things around. Then at the end of the week you can enter all grades and updates into the computer, switch anything you need to for next week and go again. Or you can do this daily if you like. For older students, you can print them their own schedules and let them check them off. This can also all be done on the computer as you go if you like that method better.
Reporting: You can print monthly progress reports, transcripts, report cards, pretty much anything you want. You can keep track of days or hours or both. There is a spot to keep track of standardized tests if you are required to do this. This is literally a place to keep everything.
Helpful hint: Turn off all options you don't need. There are things like a journal (for teacher and student), reading logs, and other things that a lot of people probably wouldn't need. This will make your program look a lot less overwhelming.
Conclusion: Whether you are a planner or a loose scheduler this program has major benefits for you. I've looked at a lot of these planners and this one is by far the best of what I've seen. Don't get discouraged at first (and you probably will) because there is a lot here and it seems a little overwhelming. The help files are pretty good and you can learn a lot by just messing around with it. It'll probably take you 2 or 3 full days to familiarize yourself with it and enter in all of your lesson plans, but it will save a lot of time later. If you're even thinking about it, I would advise you to buy the trial version and check it out.
- Reviewed on Monday, February 6, 2012
- Grades Used: 3-8
- Dates used: 2011
I am very computer literate but found this program impossibly hard to setup and use. Two separate times I lost all my data and all the setup and lesson entries that took hours to do! I really should have learned after the first time. Also, there is no phone help, and the lady that tried to help me after two days on some other web forum was very rude to me. I tried to get a refund on my purchase, but the lady refused and took many days to even respond to my request. Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me!
I'm now using another software product that I absolutely love! It was easy to setup and prints beautiful. It also had lesson plans for all the curriculum I use. I spent $59 plus $11 for my lesson plans, but now my entire year is setup! It was well worth the few extra dollars I spent. I'm just sorry that I wasted my money on Tracker.
- Reviewed on Saturday, March 19, 2011
- Grades Used: 2nd-7th
- Dates used: 2005-2011
I have used Homeschool Tracker since 2005. The past 3 years, I have used Homeschool Tracker Plus. I recommend this program highly. It has been the best spent $40 in the entire time I have been homeschooling.
If you like to be organized, plan to use the same lesson plans for multiple children, need to generate transcripts and report cards, this program is for you. My son decided he wanted to skip 8th grade and start high school after I had made all of his lesson plans and submitted his assignments for the entire 8th grade. In a matter of hours, I was able to delete all 1700 assignments, create courses (with credit units, grading scales, and course descriptions), rewrite/edit the lesson plans, and submit his new assignments. Now I will only have to grade his assignments when he completes them and Homeschool Tracker will automatically generate his transcript for me. Stress free high school record keeping makes me happy.
- Reviewed on Thursday, August 19, 2010
- Grades Used: 8th
- Dates used: 3 days
This is the worst program I have ever used. Very complicated.
Not easy to set-up. Hit wrong button and all data is gone.
I worked for 2 days putting my data in , chose the wrong button and lost my data. No easy to edit or correct a mistake.
If you are a computer programmer of very computer literature this program might be for you. Too much frustration for me.
I need to worry about teaching. This program is too time-consuming for my goals.