Review: HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage

With my oldest about to enter High School, I was super excited when The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew received a full year access to HomeSchool Office schedule software from Lord Heritage. The review is part of my role as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

 

HomeSchool Office Review

 

The first time I started working with Lord Heritage HomeSchool Office software I spent about an hour reading through all of the help subjects. I fiddled around a little with inputting information, but I didn’t get very far. I know that learning ANY new software involves a learning curve and time, so when DH took the kids to a Friday night event and I had about 3 hours to concentrate, I was ready. With a good block of free time, I broke out the Lord Heritage software and my piles of paper schedules. My goal for this test run with Lord Heritage is to set up a Lord Heritage computer based schedule to replace my paper inputs for the remainder of our school year. My long term goal is to use a computer based schedule so I can work together a sharp, professional looking transcript for my soon-to-high-schooler.

 

After rereading the tutorials in the SUPPORT section’s Knowledge Base, and checking out the limited Community section in SUPPORT as well, I set to making my schedule.

 

TeamHomeschool After inputting our data in the TEAM section, the first step I took was to set up our School Year Plan in the PLAN section. The default schedule starts in September, and since I was starting in March I had to eliminate some days. Each day had to be individually deleted by clicking on it. I think a feature where you input a start and end date would be really helpful, especially for families who have nontraditional schedules.

 

I designated our school days, then focused on learning how to input lessons in the PLAN section. In the SUBJECTS submenu, I started with math since the lesson schedule is pretty straightforward: 4 lessons, test, 4 lessons, test… When I started to set up Algebra I felt the pull down menu lacked some subject options. There was one “Mathematics – Algebra” option. It would definitely be more helpful if there were more traditional options (like “Pre-Algebra”, “Algebra 1”, and “Algebra 2”), or if you had the ability to enter your subjects manual like “Saxon Algebra 2”. With 2 kids in algebra at different levels, more options would be great.

 

I added the basic information, then started to add in the daily lessons. PlanLessons Once I got the hang of it, the lessons went in fairly easily, (though I was using “complete the next lesson” subjects for my test run). Each individual lesson does have to be inputted manually. One thing I found challenging was that after a lesson is entered, all the fill in fields for the lesson options go blank. There is no editing of the lesson number, keeping all the other fields (duration, plan, etc.) the same, and entering the edited lesson.  If the data stayed in the fields after saving it, it would be a lot quicker to enter a year’s worth of lessons.

 

While you cannot copy individual lessons, there is a COPY options with the subject. The option allows you to copy the entire plan to another student. The COPY option can be helpful by enabling you to assign the same class to different kids (at the same time or in a different year), but there are limitations. One limit is that you cannot assign more than one subject to a student. For example, you cannot assign “Mathematics – Algebra” more than once to a student – so you cannot have a student in Algebra ½ and 1 at the same time.  I know that sounds like something that’s not an issue, but with only 3 “Literature” subject options, and high school students potentially taking more than one literature concurrently, not being able to assign more than one subject to a student may be a limitation for some parents.

After I entered all the lessons for math and science, I was anxious to see them on the MASTER SCHEDULE. 4According to the “Entering Lessons” tutorial, “After a lesson is entered in the Lesson planner, a lesson icon   will appear on the lesson tile in the Order screen. This icon lets you know that a lesson has been entered for the scheduled subject.” I ran into a problem here. I could not find the lessons in the Order screen at all. At this point, I decided to try out tech support and enter a “ticket” for help.

 

The customer support was great – timely, clear, and helpful. After a little chat back and forth, I learned that I had to create a calendar for each kid that represents our ideal week in the PLAN section under MASTER SCHEDULE . This took a little trial and error, but I quickly found the more I used the program, the easier it was to work. I made the ideal schedule for each kid, and that schedule transferred over to the ORDER section so I could order the work and reschedule events as needed.

 

The ORDER menu is also where you print your schedules. After inputting science and math into our schedule for the remainder of the year, I printed the schedules. I tried printing the schedule in a variety of formats, and they all came out looking the same – a list. Being able to print in a weekly grid would definitely be more visually appealing and easier for the kids to manage their time.

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I really felt that after the first schedule was made and printed, I have a pretty good handle on the software. I would guess I spent about 10-12 hours working on the first schedule with the first 2 subjects (math and science – both “complete the lesson” lesson plans). It definitely got easier the more I used it, and adding subjects without too much detail would go faster.  I can see where practice with the software could help a lot! ANY software takes time to learn, and this is no different. This software has a lot of features: grade tracking, reports, and transcripts, so learning to use it well could save you a lot of time in the long run, especially if you have a large family and reuse a lot of curriculum.

 

What’s my final opinion?

Pros:

Tech support was excellent.

Easy to copy whole subjects once they’re in the system.

Learning curve, while expectantly steep, is surmountable.

 

Cons:

Lack of ability to name your own subject / limited subject options.

Inputting lessons is tedious. The lack of “copy lessons”, leaving data fields full for quick editing of lesson number, or batching of lessons is a negative.

No video tutorials on how to use the system. Written support pages are ok, but I found I needed more than what was available.

The printed format of the schedule (at least the 3 formats I tried) is not user friendly. Changing to a grid or a calendar type set up would be a lot more useable.

 

I know there is a huge market for scheduling software on the market, and I applaud Lord Heritage for seeking to meet a need in the homeschool community. I want companies to succeed – especially ones with a great vision and focus to help make homeschooling more manageable like Lord Heritage. For my family, without changes to the data inputting and a different look to the printed schedule, this software isn’t a great fit and not one I would continue to use in the future.

 

 

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