Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Summer Plan

I bought the materials for The Workbox System in the spring. I tried it for a few days to see how I liked it before next year. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please take the time to google "workbox system" or "workboxes" because there is simply too much out there to link to. Here is the really short explanation: it is basically an organizational system that aids whatever curriculum you use and encourages independence on the part of the student. There is much more to it, but that's the short answer.

I think I've visited every single blog that shares about workboxes and I got so many great ideas from them. I did purchase Sue Patrick's e-book and there is no doubt---it is a great organizational system. But a few days after we tried it, I just had the feeling that something was wrong. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something nagged at me. I finally figured out what it was--I didn't WANT to be that organized.

Now let me explain. I have been learning about the benefits of organization around here and that is another reason I am excited to organize our homeschool day a bit more. But not THAT much.

See, I LIKE spontaneity. I like the kids to get to pick the order they get to do things sometimes. Will they pick all the fun things first and be stuck with all the hard work at the end? Probably. What a great lesson though! Yes, they need to learn to follow instructions, so MOST days they will probably follow the system in order. Maybe Fridays will be "you pick the order" days.

To be fair, Mrs. Patrick developed this system for her son, who is autistic. There are definitely kids, and families, who need that structure. But I don't want to give up the freedom that homeschool affords to become slaves to a schedule, you know?

There was something else though. Twelve boxes are WAY too many for our school day! The system suggests 12 workboxes for each student. When we tried that in the spring, the day seemed to go on forever! If we can finish school in a few hours, then I want to! I considered using the workboxes for just extra work for the kids to go to when they were waiting on me or to use as an assignment every now and then.

In the end, I decided that 6 boxes per child were plenty. Here are our boxes:

You can barely see the green number stickers on them. Sweetheart's are on top and Little Bit's are on the bottom. I had affixed the downloaded numbers, printed on blue card stock, to the shoe boxes already. But when I saw these I decided to spruce things up a bit. Great inspiration. I haven't ripped off all the old tags yet, as you can see.

Here are our boards where the numbers go when they complete the box.

(Their names are in the green sticker letters as well.) These were just made from scrapbook paper, good, thick laminating from an office supply store, and velcro.

When the board is full--you're done with school. I love that. It's my new motto. We just have so many subjects that we do together and curriculum that requires me to work with them--6 boxes work well for now.

Hmm. I talked a lot and never got to our summer plan be continued! :)
P.S. The shelf was $15 from Target's laundry section and the shoeboxes were $1 each, also from Target. Some folks have done it cheaper. Google the blogs peoeple--there is a wealth of info out there!


  1. Brenda, all of your organizing tools are both exciting and scary to me, lol! You inspired me to look around. It seems interesting, but I am wondering how it would work when most of the work is work I have to do with them, as well as work we all do together, such as reading Apologia Science aloud? Hmmm... maybe I should just go ahead and buy the book, I'd bet she addresses things like that ;-) I can just imagine one child bringing me his English at the same time I'm working on Preschool with another, or one child still working on math when its time for our "reading aloud together" time, or whatever.. and the chaos that would ensue, yk? Just rambling and taking up comment space!

  2. Nope, it's all things to think about--not rambling!

    There are "Work with Mom" cards for things that will need your help and if you are working with one child when they get to a Work With Mom box, they just skip that box and move to the next one. We also do Apologia science together (well, we will be next year since Little Bit will be in Kinder). She says to do your group work together first thing and then send everyone off to their workboxes. For us, that would be Bible and then science. I suppose one of their boxes could be a science activity---such as notebooking page for Sweetheart or an easier thing for Little Bit about what we read about that day.

    The trick is to stagger independent things with Work with Mom things.....and to stagger hard with fun/easy. You can grab games off the shelf, etc. that always get passed up. "center" type things can go in boxes. The possibilities are endless----it just has to work for your situation.

    And you could always put the science book in one kids box and a note in the other kids' boxes saying "stop your work when brother comes to get you for science time." They could take turns being the one to be the science boss! :)

  3. The other thing I wanted to say was....ever since we started homeschooling when Sweetheart was in 2nd grade, I have pretty much been sitting right there with her and this year I want her to get more independent. Handwriting, well, lots of things could be independent with good directions. History will still be read together, but her timeline could be independent. I don't know....Im' still figuring it out.

  4. hmmmm... my brain is definitely churning! I have been trying to brainstorm ways that the older boys could start being more independent... this might just be the thing that jump starts it! thanks for sharing about this... be sure to update how its going as you get more into it. And I'm so with you on the "I don't want to be THAT organized" thing. I'm struggling on that tightrope between OCD and just letting everything go... surely there's a safe middle ground, right? I think its harder for type A people to find it, lol!

  5. Sounds like you took a good system and brought it into a unique perfection for your family!! Freedom IS a good thing!

  6. I also love to be organized, but I don't have the space for something like that. Even though it's not that big, our house is just over 900 Sq Ft, so there is NO extra space.

    It does look like a good system though. Glad it's working for you!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)