Friday, July 30, 2010

How workboxes work for me.

Ok, let me start out with the way things used to be..

In the very beginning of my homeschooling journey, I hadn’t even heard of workboxes.  I knew however that I needed to plan ahead, after all,  to fail to plan, is to plan to fail.  So I started with a list.  Each week I would sit down and make a list of what needed to get done.  I would then break it down into days, and give each kid their weekly list, if they chose to do Monday and Tuesday things on Monday, that was fine, but everything for that day had to be done before they could play. 

Now, that left me no room to plan fun things into the day.  They worked slowly until the afternoon, and then kicked it into high gear to get stuff done.  By the time they were done and I wanted to do something fun and educational (play a game, do a craft, watch a movie, etc) they were just done for the day.

So that just wasn’t working for me, I didn’t want them to dread school, and think learning couldn’t be fun.  So I looked for new ideas.  I decided to begin having morning meetings, we would get together at 9am and meet, discuss the day, do group activities, and then go on with the school day.  That way I could let them know I had something planned at such and such a time, and they would know to fit that in.

Now, Emily is NOT a morning person (neither am I), so the meetings were hard for her, she would get up and be physically there but not be mentally there.  So I had to find something else.  Meeting later in the day was sort of an option, but Tommy is very much a morning person, and he did not want to wait to start schoolwork.  So I had to find a new plan….

I decided to get a white board and write out the plans for the day so everyone could see them when they got up.  That worked, as long as I remembered to erase the day before and put up the new day before I went to bed.  But it was still hard, I liked the group time.  So I kept looking for what would work for us.

It was then that I attended The Old Schoolhouse Expo in the spring of 2010.  I made every effort I could to attend Sue Patrick’s Workshop.  I was able to attend, but our money was tight and I didn’t feel it was something that I could afford then, the book, the boxes, the printing, the laminating.  However, I felt it was something that I definitely wanted to try.  I really thought it would work for my family.  

I waited and searched blogs, hoping to get a better feel for the changes you can make to it.  I really liked the drawers, since I have a fairly smaller house, with a fairly large family in it.    So I began saving and watching ads for sales. 

Finally I was ready to begin my workbox journey…..

I would like to let everyone know that I have not yet purchased Sue Patrick’s book, it is still on the list, and it is something that I would really like to purchase this year!  I hear it comes with some amazing downloads. 

I got my drawers.  Now came the time to find where to put them.  My wants were, accessible to everyone, and close to where I store school “stuff” , and close to where we usually do school, which is the kitchen. 

So here is my first set up.


Katey’s are the bottom ones, next to the blue one.  Mom’s storage are the six drawers above Katey’s and the 2 baskets as well.  Tommy’s are closest to the microwave and Emily’s are in between.  On top of Emily’s are 3 more drawers where I store their schedule sheets and misc paperwork.  On top of those drawers are their snack baskets. Next to Katey’s and mine is a black bookshelf where I store the books such as teachers manuals, etc.   The big blue drawers is where I put work that won’t fit in the smaller drawers, as well as I use them to store misc items as well. 

Tommy and Emily do some of the same things, such as their writing prompts are the same.  Their Botany and History lessons are the same.  So what I would do is write out on a Post It Note what to do, and if Tommy had it in his box 3 and Emily needed it in her box 5, then there would just be a note on it to put in Emily’s box 5.  This worked nicely unless Emily was ready for box 5 and Tommy hadn’t put in there yet.  So I needed to find a solution to that.  As much as I loved this and THEY WERE WORKING I did not like how cluttered it felt in my kitchen.  So I came up with a solution to both problems. 


First I rearranged the kitchen.  And moved the workboxes to their very own corner.  They are much better over here. 


And for the dual work, I decided to put two Velcro dots on some boxes, and number each child’s with a different color.  As shown in the picture below they both start with writing prompts as number 1.  Then they will both move on to box 2, and so on.  When it is something that they will need to spend some time on, I schedule them further apart, as shown on Emily’s box 2 and Tommy’s box 6. 


I have to say that this system is the current one we use, and it is working wonderfully for us.  I have a hard time filling them.  And the kids do not like having to wait for me in the mornings.  In order to motivate me, I told them if I don’t have them filled when they wake up, that they can skip work that day.  So far that is working for us.  It really only takes me a small time to fill them.  It’s just that I got to do it.  Planning them takes more time, and I have no problem doing that. 

For the summer time I only have them do about 6 boxes each, and that seems to be plenty.  I anticipate when we go back to fuller days we will be doing about 9 each per day for the older kids, and 4-6 for Katey. 


Penny said...

Really nice workbox setup! I love how you made the idea work for your space and situation!

Dawn said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and thought it was very interesting and wanted to leave a note. =) I am a kindergarten teacher so let me know if you ever need any ideas. I just started blogging and I'm going to post some great ideas for Kindergarteners on my page so come check it out this school year.
Have a good weekend.


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