In a family our size, 10 of our dozen children still at home, and nine of those "officially" in school this year, I must keep careful track of what we have done and plan carefully in order to accomplish all that the Lord calls us to do.
When we first began homeschooling, way back in '93, I simply wrote down on graph paper a list of hours and kept a running total for each month. It was free, simple and it worked. As we added children to our family though and as computer applications became more common, I began to take advantage of those to save me time.
Initially I used a program called Homeschool Easy Records. For reasons that I now can't remember I then switched to a free program specifically made for Missouri homeschoolers called "Missouri Loggerrhythms." It was free and did everything that I needed. Unfortunately the developer of that program moved on to other things and once it wasn't supported any more I decided that I needed to switch on purpose rather than being forced to switch when I had a problem and couldn't get support.
My next acquisition after quite a bit on research online was Edu-Track. I have been using this record keeping program since 2008. Edu-Track does everything that I need it to do, and has many features that I don't even take full advantage of. I primarially use it to plan our school year, entering specific assignments for each child and then logging their grades and time spent on assignments so I can keep track of cumulative hours for each school year. In addition, it can be used to create a transcript.
During the past year I have had problems in increasing frequency with my aging Dell laptop computer. Not wanting to spend any money on a new computer (there are *always* other, more pressing things to spend money on in a family our size), I kept reformatting my laptop each time it would crash. This would require me to to spend the next few days reloading programs and finding and restoring data that I had backed up, etc. This was supremely frustrating for me.
During the past school year I had to reformat about 4 times, but this summer it has been every few weeks, the last time being only 5 days since reinstalling Windows. My very sweet husband took pity on me and gave the ok to purchase a new iMac! Yay! If you are familiar with Macs, you know that they tend to be a much more stable operating system and are significantly less prone to virus attack. (Plus you've gotta' figure in the "cool" factor!)
Anyway, the only "down" side to Mac usage is that not every program has a Mac equivalent. Homeschool Record keeping programs are a case in point. I did find a shareware type program here that looks interesting. Anyone know of a Mac homeschool record keeping program? I'd *love* to hear about it!
My other option is to run a program like Parallels on my new Mac which would allow me to install Windows and run it alongside Mac OS X. Do any of my readers do that? I'm curious if I would be giving up speed on my Mac to install and run Windows too. I think the only programs that I would run on Parallels are:
- Advantage Cooking (fabulous batch-cooking program)
- Electric Quilt (digital quilt design software~ really want to learn to use this!)
- e-Sword and
- Sport Tracks (super-cool program to track workouts. I can upload info from my Garmin and it plots the route I run or bike~ once I can *finally* do those things again, keeps track of my heart rate, calories burned, etc. Did I mention Free? It is!)
As an aside, if you are considering using a computerized homeschool record keeping program, you might also want to check out Homeschool Tracker. It gets rave reviews from its users and, from what I have read, has fabulous (and fast) tech support! That, for a busy homeschooling mom, is *huge*. I recently had a problem restoring the data in Edu-Track after my last laptop crash. Edu-Track was helpful and did help me resolve my problem (it turned out that my backup was corrupted. Thankfully they were able to repair my backup and email it back to me!). However, this process took 5 days of emailing back and forth. There is no phone # to call and talk with a "real" person, so I had to wait until they returned each of my emails. Frustrating for me. They did help though and went out of their way to repair my backup, so I am super-grateful for that.
Anyway, if I were choosing a new program now (for Windows) I think I would go with Homeschool Tracker. That software is their only specialty and they are reputed to be very, very helpful with any problems.
Hope my experiences are helpful for you. Any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments section and I'll try to answer.
Have a wonderful Wednesday, friends! It's cooler and I'm lovin' this weather here!