Sunday, August 9, 2009

Jumping on the Workbox Bandwagon

I really hate fads. I hate it even more when I get sucked into them. I must confess, I have been sucked into the buzz about "workboxes." For those of you living under a rock (ie. don't frequent homeschool message boards) the Workbox System is an idea by Sue Patrick which is designed to organize your daily school work and help motivate your kids to more independence. Independence is something we could use a bit more of around our home school, since so much of what we do requires mommy time. I don't want them to "school themselves", I just need to be able to spread myself out a bit more, and teach the crocodile hunter how to take more ownership of his assignments. Enter the workbox system. Basically it is a shelf with 12 clear plastic shoe boxes. Each box contains one assignment for the day. The boxes are numbered, and the child has a schedule strip at his desk to let him know the order of his work. Now, I pride myself on the lack of ugly plastic items in our school room - but after days of searching for alternative "pretty" systems, I decided to just get over it and give this a try. For the older two I purchased scrapbook supply towers, since they are large enough to hold any textbook we have (including the history portfolios, which are rather large), and they are not drawers, but actual boxes that slide all the way out and have a top that seals.

Not pretty, I know, but I am dealing with it, and if it helps us stay on track, I will make the sacrifice :) For the Queen I used the standard shoe boxes the book suggests, and cleared out an already existing shelf in our school room for her boxes. I am particularly excited about this program for her since it will allow me to utilize all of the fun activity bags we have and I never seem to get around to using.
The basic principles are:
1) boxes need to be clear and visible to the child
2) all materials needed to complete an assignment are in the box (eliminates wasting time because mommy can't find the glue/scissors/stapler/timer ... you get the picture :)
3) the boxes alternate between more difficult studies and fun motivating activities - encouraging the child to stay on task in order to get to the fun things
4) the child is to try to complete the assignment without assistance, unless it is noted by a card on the box that this box requires mom to help
5) your child can see the big picture, and is motivated to keep working to finish, when the boxes are finished, school is finished!
If this idea appeals to you, I highly recommend you purchase the book before trying to implement the system. The book provides you a full explanation of the principles behind the system and why they work, along with great ideas for how to fill your boxes. It also provides access to downloads for the schedule strip and numbering system. This is an experiment for us, so I am going to try to update the blog weekly with a "workbox report" to let you all see if and how it is working for us. The boxes do require some preparation - since I will have to fill them each evening, but I think that is a good accountability lesson for me, and I know it has already made me go and pull out some books I have had for years and never got around to using. For example, I am planning to have one box each week contain a science experiment from Backyard Scientist. I can put all the supplies in the box, and the crocodile hunter can have fun! For an even better visual look at this system check out this blogger who does a great job of breaking it down. I will post at the end of our first week exactly how I work out our schedule and incorporate the boxes into the day.


Anonymous said...

I will look forward to your updates and am curious as to how this will work out since I think we have similar learning approaches.

Ella's wearing her pink bunny onsie. :) Love it! It made my day to get it. Thank you so much. Look for a photo on the blog very soon. :)

Susan Sophia said...

This is an intriguing idea. I look forward to updates as well.

Erin said...

Thanks. We have a somewhat similar system, but not nearly so organized. Ours is more like post-it notes and various stacks of books. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes.

Ashley said...

Alicia told me about this a few weeks ago, and I knew it would be great for us. I have read the book, and am setting everything up tomorrow. I like your towers. The shoeboxes won't fit any of Barbara's notebooks!

Christian said...

I think you inspired Erin. She and Lex have been working up their system for the coming year. Our space is quite the plethora of plastic bins right now.