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kcanders
01-12-2011, 11:58 PM
I have been thinking about doing workboxes with my kids to help us all get organized. I bought Sue Patrick's book and it looks very interesting. Currently our house is in Chaos. My 10 month old won't nap for more than a half hour at a time. The rest of the day he is completely exhausted and I have to hold him all day. The older kids spend a lot of time asking me what they need to do and looking for things they have misplaced. They end up bringing their work wherever I might be at the time with Jaxon and when they are done their work seems to stay wherever they finish it, because by that time I have usually moved on. My son can't seem to find anything he needs, even if he had put it away on his shelf (I am still trying to convince him that stacking everything horizontally in a big pile is not conducive to finding stuff later) So by the end of the day, the house is destroyed, the kids and I are all frustrated and the baby is still crying and crabby.

I like the idea of having one box for each subject which contains everything that is needed for that subject. Then they could take the box to wherever they are going to do it and it can put everything back in the box to return it. They both attended a Montessori School for years and are used to having their materials on a try and returning the items to the try and returning the tray when they are done. I am hoping that having that routine will help. They will also be able to see what still needs to be done, which should reduce the whining about when they can be done.

I am not sure about dictating the exact order they should do their work like she suggests in her book. I would like them to have the option to work on assignments in any order they want. But I think the organization might help.

If anyone has any feedback on the workbox system I would love to hear it.

Batgirl
01-13-2011, 12:05 AM
Unfortunately, I've never used them, but it sounds like a great idea. Keep us posted!

InstinctiveMom
01-13-2011, 12:27 AM
I've seen a LOT of tweaking in various blogs. We're taking the general idea and in a couple of months (when we're done with our upcoming re-modeling project) will be implementing a system based on the workbox system. I give my kids a list of assignments sometimes and let them pick and choose what to do when, as long as they finish everything. They still need reminders, and we use a checklist in their planners to keep them organized.
Let us know how the system works for you and what (if any) tweaks you make!
~h

mamareeb
01-13-2011, 01:58 AM
We've just started (this is week 2) and it is going GREAT. I looked around the internet alot - never bought the book. Did plenty of tweaking - we are using a rolling cart 10 drawer tower for DS8. Then DD4 wanted drawers & "schoolwork" so I emptied out 2 sets of 3 drawer Sterlite organizers. Each night (or early a.m.) I make a list of 10 things - math, spelling, Mastermind, jump on the trampoline, etc. I let DS choose what order he wants to do them and then I fill the boxes (either with books & papers or an index card with an activity listed).

Pros: DS can see when his day will be done & how far along he is.
I am held accountable for filling up the drawers! Would love to get to the point where I am planning out a week (month) in advance.
The drawers are better than the clear shoeboxes for us because little DS1 isn't as tempted to empty the contents.
The tower rolls to wherever he wants it, or he can just take 1 drawer.
If I stick a game & read aloud in there then we get to it :)

Cons: I am accountable for filling up the drawers!
DS definitely has a check-it-off mentality. I would like him to find more joy in the process and this system doesn't lend itself to that.
But we're just starting out and we (I!) really needed an organizational system to get us rolling. And you can't be a slave to the system. We had an off day around here today and I just threw up my hands and said "Forget boxes 6,7 and 10!!"

Lots of blogs out there on workboxes - hope you find some ideas that excite you. Hang in there with your little one. My baby #4 is asleep on my shoulder (I've become a great one-handed typer). She's my last baby and I'm always thinking about how this stage will pass soon - and then I'll look back and miss it! Won't miss the crying and lack of sleep though :) Let me know if you have more questions...

KristinK
01-13-2011, 10:00 AM
I have been reading workbox stuff for the past year, wanting to implement it. But never being organized to do so! Also, my house is tiny, and even a rolling drawer tower won't fit in anywhere right now. So I kept putting it off. But finally this past weekend I just bought a big accordian-style file-box for dd7, and smaller ones for dd5 and dd3 (who insist on doing schoolwork, even though I'd personally prefer them to just go play!). I LOVE that I'm now getting stuff pulled together at night, so that in the morning they can just grab their boxes and get to it. I put pencils in with the work, scissors if needed, etc. The file box is big enough to hold worksheets or a workbook. Ideally I wanted small plastic file boxes that I could put hanging files in, but I just couldn't find what I wanted, so this will do for now. they can take the whole thing to their seat.
I'm letting them do stuff in whatever order they want, EXCEPT they have to complete 4 work-files before doing computer time...they can't start with computer (otherwise they'd never do the other stuff...I have to use computer work as a bribe/reward ;) ). I'm only starting, so we only have about 4 things in each kids' box. But eventually I want to have up to 10...

I didn't buy the book, just read many many blogs for ideas, and started a list of things to put in the workboxes. I need to print that list off though and hang it so that I can be inspired by it while filling the boxes. I'm still struggling to find my organization...

I too have baby #4 who only sleeps in 30min increments (all night long as well *yawn*), and frequently only ON me in the sling. I feel your pain. The workboxes have REALLY helped with that, as I get them filled at night after the other kids are sleeping (and I'm pacing the kitchen with baby in the sling). Then during the morning when I'm dealing with baby, at least the kids know WHAT needs done, and I'm not scurrying around trying to get them set up with stuff. They still call me over constnatly to help with directions, etc. but at least they see what needs done, and can do some things without me.

I'd love to see a regular workbox thread here with ideas!! :)

Sam
01-13-2011, 12:31 PM
I've seen the basic jist of the workbox system and think it's pretty interesting. I will soon be implementing something similar but with something more like a filefolder mentioned above. Because I'm only HSing one right now and am lucky enough that the baby still naps well, it's more to hold DD accountable. Even at 8 she is still very much in need of information being spoon fed to her (because that's what the schools did) and I'm trying to get her to think more on her own. Being able to work individually would be nice too as the baby is 18 mths and I know will soon stop napping so well

Baberry
01-13-2011, 02:41 PM
We do workboxes and my kids love it. We tweaked it....ALOT! Instead of 12 boxes we only use 6 boxes. My kids use the workboxes in numerical order because I place harder subjects first. Math and english are difficult subjects for my little ones, so we work on those first. Better to have them tackle the most difficult while they are fresh and up for the challenge. I use to let them pick any box, but that was an epic fail. They would pick all the fun stuff first and when it was time for the more difficult subjects they would freak out and have these mini meltdowns. Um, yeah, we changed that in neck break speed. Now we go in order, but do what works best for you.

It truly a work in progress, but it does work. Best of luck to you.

higgledypiggledy
01-14-2011, 01:13 AM
I started workboxes as outlined, but I prefer to allow my children more autonomy in their work. In addition, loading the boxes for four kids every night became...ANNOYING...TIME-COMSUMING...STRESSFUL. Now we have towers. Ours are seven drawer towers that can be picked up at Wal-Mart. The towers come white, but my kids spent a very fun afternoon spray painting and personalizing their towers. The kids divided their stuff into catagories, not always as I would have organized them. My son (10) has the following drawers: Math, Great Books (the program and his favorite personal picks), Latin/Greek with Spelling (he uses his L/ G to help him understand English so this makes sense to him), Science, History, Language Arts and Music (xylaphone and piano). Each kid made labels for their drawers and each drawer contains pencils and other supplies, big supplies are communal and part of another cupboard. We use a little white board, and at the end of each day I just jot down what drawers the kids must do tomorrow. Anything above and beyond is up to them. They may work in whatever order they choose. All of my children end up doing something from every drawer every day, whether I "assign" something or not. The drawers contain official curriculum supplies plus extras. When we check out library books, the kids just sort the books into the drawers and when they feel like it, they read the books and do projects as inspired. When they are finished with a library book, it goes into the book basket in the car. Now we are using more fully our library books and never losing any of them. To keep the kids guessing, I will drop yellow 3x5 cards into random drawers with special activities, for example: make homemade ice-cream, build a super blanket fort, tunnel in the snow outside, go to the zoo etc... Whenever someone finds a golden ticket, everyone drops what they are working on and we take a break for something fun. Workboxes as outlined work for some families, but our adaptation has been very successful. In case you need an idea about the general bedlam at our house--I homeschool children ages 10, 8, 5 and 3. I also watched children ages 2 and 1 for a friend of mine that just went back to school full time and is working part time. I have an infant 3 months. We even made a little three drawer tower for the 2yo. His is filled with quiet activties that he can do to play school. Amazingly, our towers have SAVED my sanity and I feel confident that the children are making progress and enjoying delight led learning. While my house is constantly cluttered with projects and happy children, it is organized. You may want to ask your kids how they like things organized. My 8yo created an office for herself, a cubicle made of her tower, a big white board she likes to doodle on and an antique desk with her "files." Sorry this reply got long. Good Luck!

ercswf
01-14-2011, 11:03 PM
I bought my kids the old fivestar binders. IN each kids binder is all the paper, workbooks/sheets, Pencils, ect... to do most of their work. That way they are able to work where ever in the house works best for them. Any other odds and end they may need are loaded into a small basket the night before so they can bring it to me if needed. Our world would be perfect right now if we could get some lap desks for when we do our work in my bed.

When my kids are done with their work I put it in my binder I made that has all my tracking logs, list, lessons plans and such. By setting things up this way we have also found ourselves able to take our work anyplace outside the house we could want to work.

kcanders
01-15-2011, 01:02 AM
Thanks for all the ideas and information. I am going to try to work on this idea this weekend and see what I come up with. Sorry I didn't reply sooner. Somehow I hurt my neck and it is a little less sore now after three chiropractor visits this week. Also my husband has been out of town all week, so it has been a long week. We did go pick up some cool scrapbook paper for charts for the kids and for labels for the boxes.

My current idea is to velcro labels on the boxes with the subject and if it is a core, an elective, or an enrichment (mom picked extra like wrap-ups, etc). Their charts will be a grid and they will have to go in order, but it will just say if they have to do a core, elective, enrichment, lunch, snack, or something fun. If the first box is core, they can choose any one of their core subjects to do, then go on to the next box. As they finish the work they will velcro the label on their chart. Before we start the day I will velcro quick fun things on the chart to break up the day.

Well this is my plan so far. We will see how it goes this weekend. I was planning to make a run to Ikea (about 5 hours from here) to get boxes and shelves in the next few weeks and start then, but the kids were so excited when I talked to them about it that they want to start right away. So I am going to see what I have around here to use temporarily. Somehow I don't think my husband will want to drive to Chicago on Sunday after traveling all week. :)

Thanks again. I will let you know how it goes.

raegan
01-15-2011, 01:26 AM
Whoa--what a coincidence: I'd been looking up a new organizational system and thinking of ways to make workboxes work for us, which is what led me to look through old (misplaced) bookmarked websites & re-discovered this site this week. Anyway, I agree that a thread dedicated to workbox ideas/setups would be useful. My issue with them right now is that my 5yo still pretty much needs me to lead every activity for him, so the independence of the workboxes is moot for us. But since he's so tactile and visual, it may help him to visualize what we've done and what we still have left each day. I also have a 3yo who would love to play along. I agree--there are some great ideas on various blogs, too!

Lou
05-01-2011, 03:35 AM
going to bring this thread back to life...as I am embarking on a workbox system myself and hope that others will chime in on how it's working for them.

I'm a confirmed container lover...so all of the kids toys, games, etc are already in a bit of an OCD container situation...so I'm guessing the workbox system will work for us...but life is full of suprises just when you think you have the plan set! ;)

Anyhow, right now all subjects are in hanging folders and I just start with the first and make my way down the list to the last hanging folder. I stock it on Sundays for the week's goals, if we kick bootay on Monday, then I end up slack'n by Friday...which works out well because then I get the kids in "house cleaning" mode and we spiff up the house before dad comes home from work so it's nice for him and his relaxing weekend. :)

The biggest change will be setting up the goals as daily goals instead of weekly goals. I ordered the clear drawers. I'm getting excited to get everything in the mail and get going on this new system, but it also means clearing out a space in the playroom for the drawers...the kids have too many things, however, now that they are home 24/7 they play with everything they have more.

I did not buy the workbox system book, just surfed a bunch of blogs on it...and I'm still not 100% sure what SUE PATRICK'S plan was with the numbers, picture cards, check in spots, etc where do the numbers go and why? Where do the picture cards go and why? (I have my own ideas of why, but curious what the book says) ..if someone has read her book and can explain that part I'd greatly appreciate it!!! :)

lakshmi
05-01-2011, 03:42 AM
I don't use it, but do have a pal whose son loves it and a daughter who isn't as keen. Sounds like a lot of work, good luck.

05-02-2011, 06:51 AM
Here is a link to a list of blogs with workboxes:
http://sunflowerschoolhouse.com/workbox-blogroll/

People have so many various takes on them. We use file folders in boxes that fit on our shelves. They are great for keeping the kids organized as long as mom stays organized and fills them. :p I fill some of the regular subjects, like math and reading, for the whole week and that saves me some time.
I also have a pencil box full of pencils, erasers, scissors, glue, etc. that fits nicely into each child's file box so they always have their supplies on hand. They can pick up their entire workbox, including supplies and carry it anywhere in the house, outside, wherever they want to work or wherever I am, so I can help them. So if I'm busy feeding my youngest, my oldest can come to where I am to get math help.
Here's the link to my workboxes:

http://creeksidelearning.com/2011/03/23/our-workbox-system/

Kylie
05-02-2011, 09:01 AM
We kinda use them. Late last year I realised that I was gearing up for workboxing with out even realising it. Each night I would prepare plastic envelopes of work for the kids, each envelope had a different activity inside. However I could only fit in a small portion of our supplies. Then it dawned on me that I could use a workbox type set up.

We use the 10 draw rolling carts, one for each child. I try to do my planning and photocopying on the weekends so that each night it is easier to load the draws. I don't do schedule strips or numbered boxes. I felt that was making the process harder than it needed it to be. It was quite clear to my kids that they started at the top and worked through til their last draw.

I prefer using the drawers to rummaging through baskets. They can easily be pulled out and carried around the house. The rolling carts really don't take up too much room either, unlike the traditional workbox system. The kids don't need to ask what's next or how much longer do we have, they know.

Can you possibly try this out with what you already have at home before investing in the entire unit? The plastic envelopes I used last year were under $1 each.

Lou
05-02-2011, 01:58 PM
I bought several of these http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002BA5F2A (a set of 4 per child) to use.

I love the blog photos Julie...looks so nice and organized! The tags seem to make more sense if you put a sheet that says "LOOK WHAT I DID" ...that visual is nice and would be nice for the kids to review what they did with Dad later in the day. :)

My kids totally get start at the top and work down...I have "tags" for the drawers that indicate what the subject is and whether or not they work with mom or need help, but the truth is I didn't really "GET" the numbers on the drawers...I might (like you Kylie) skip that part? Not sure? Maybe someone will explain the benefits of that part to me since I haven't read Sue Patrick's book. Seems to be a bit more simple if you just have them remove the subject tag when they are done. TOP TO BOTTOM seems simple enough to remember.

Currently I have a big hanging folder container with hanging file folders with each subject and I stuff it on Sunday for the week and work thru it each day. Some weeks we conquere the whole week in a day or two other times it takes all week to accomplish the work...so I'm still figuring out what is a good amount for the kids. I guess it's similar to the concept of workbox, but it's not something I want the kids to dig around in...so it's MINE and not teaching them to work independently.

Gotta go clean the playroom so there is room in there for the workbox system as well as having something for the yard sale my friend conned me into having this coming MOTHER'S DAY weekend!

MamaGames
05-02-2011, 02:38 PM
Love all the ideas! We tried workboxing for a while when my son was younger, but at the time he was the only one being homeschooled (I think he was 6 and my daughter was 2) and he prefers to work one subject in depth - doing, say, an entire chapter of history plus all the extra readings and activities on one day, or a whole spelling lesson on another day. So the work broken into small increments didn't work for him.

My daughter, who is 4 now, has a very different personality and I'm thinking that a modified form of workboxing (and/or modified Montessori trays) will work for her next year. I'm eager to see what you come up with, Krish! Good luck!

wife&mommy
05-02-2011, 10:10 PM
This is one of those things that seems really good in theory but I know I would end up slacking on my end of things and it wouldn't last long.

Ariadne
05-02-2011, 10:11 PM
This is one of those things that seems really good in theory but I know I would end up slacking on my end of things and it wouldn't last long.Oh boy can I relate to this.

Homeschooling gets so much easier once you really know yourself. ;)

05-03-2011, 07:05 AM
I bought several of these http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002BA5F2A (a set of 4 per child) to use.

I love the blog photos Julie...looks so nice and organized! The tags seem to make more sense if you put a sheet that says "LOOK WHAT I DID" ...that visual is nice and would be nice for the kids to review what they did with Dad later in the day. :)

My kids totally get start at the top and work down...I have "tags" for the drawers that indicate what the subject is and whether or not they work with mom or need help, but the truth is I didn't really "GET" the numbers on the drawers...I might (like you Kylie) skip that part? Not sure? Maybe someone will explain the benefits of that part to me since I haven't read Sue Patrick's book. Seems to be a bit more simple if you just have them remove the subject tag when they are done. TOP TO BOTTOM seems simple enough to remember.

Thanks. :)
I think the idea behind the numbers and the schedule strips is so that kids see what they are accomplishing and know when they will be done. The same can be accomplished with subject tags.
Also, the strips are used for homeschoolers that have a lot of structure in their day, like scheduled snack breaks, outside time, etc. It was a bit too scheduled for us so I never used the strips and numbers. One of Sue Patrick's kids has special needs and maybe this is what she found worked well for him, or perhaps just her own style.

Lou
05-03-2011, 11:53 AM
Thanks. :)
I think the idea behind the numbers and the schedule strips is so that kids see what they are accomplishing and know when they will be done. The same can be accomplished with subject tags.
Also, the strips are used for homeschoolers that have a lot of structure in their day, like scheduled snack breaks, outside time, etc. It was a bit too scheduled for us so I never used the strips and numbers. One of Sue Patrick's kids has special needs and maybe this is what she found worked well for him, or perhaps just her own style.

When I was a sub-teacher (in the PS system...ahhh) :) I did sub in special needs area and they used a similar system. ADHD & Autistic kids seemed to responded well to it. (picture tags of what they need to do when...stricter routine)

Our days are far from rigid routines...yet we do have a fairly consistant pattern in our schooling. So I think it should be a fairly easy system for us to use. Our playroom consists of shelves with containers on them, each container having a separate toy...the kids take a container out to the living room and play with it, when they are done, they pick it up and put it back on the shelf. There is a bin that is for 'random' toys that either don't have enough to fill a container or the kids forgot where it needs to go...so they can toss into that bin on those occasions...and I go thru the bin and toys every few weeks to make sure all the parts, etc are there. When we have friends over for playdates, they don't put things back where they belong (it doesn't bother me, I'm not an organizational OCD type) :) The random bin is also for when the kids leave 'random' toys around the house, a quick sweep and all those little bits are popped into the random container for a later sort out. :)

My point, MY family is very used to containers and taking one container out at a time to play with and putting back when you're done. So I think schooling that way would work well for OUR family. As for filling it nightly for the next day...I would most likely fill my hanging folders on Sunday for the week (as I already do) and then each night pull a little bit from there for the work box drawers.

I really liked your blog...and was thinking about starting a blog just to journal our homeschooling journey. Still on the fence...how much work/time does it take you to maintain a blog?

05-04-2011, 06:42 AM
I really liked your blog...and was thinking about starting a blog just to journal our homeschooling journey. Still on the fence...how much work/time does it take you to maintain a blog?

Thank you. You decide how much time/work it takes. Some people post weekly, twice a week or once a month or randomly. You can decide how much to write, if you'll use photos or not. It's really up to you.

dottieanna29
05-04-2011, 02:51 PM
I do a version of workboxes that is so modified, they probably shouldn't be called workboxes anymore. I have an extremely small house, little time each evening to reload and a 3 year old that I need to be able to keep things away from.

In my dining room (where my kids aren't allowed unless I'm in there) I have a crate where I've filed all our work by subject. Everything is printed out, workbooks (most) are cut apart. This holds just about everything we will need for the year. There's also a set of plastic drawers that has 2 small drawers and 4 large drawers. The 4 large drawers hold the materials and lesson plans for whatever Science or History topics we have coming up - usually I have the current weeks topic and one or two that I'm working on gathering stuff.

On the inside of my bedroom door (which opens directly into the living room) is a 12 slot pocket chart with slots large enough to hold a file folder. Each slot is for a different subject. In the top is my clipboard with the plan for the week on it and some coloring pages with our read-aloud book for the week. In the pockets are: Handwriting without tears (holds the book NOT torn apart and some extra paper), Math Mammoth, Grammar, All About Spelling (the book NOT torn apart, the cards for that week and paper), Explode the Code, TAG and other books for ds to read alone, our ASL book, some math sheets for dd, some phonics sheets for dd and some file folder games.

In the pockets for Math, Grammar and Explode the Code are 4 different colored file folders. Each days work is put in a folder - so Tuesdays are pink, Wednesday are blue, Thursday are green and Friday are purple. When we take the work out of a folder and complete it, that folder goes to the back so I can always see if we are behind a day in any subject. We basically work our way from the top down each day.

I found that I could not keep up with setting up workboxes every night since I spend a lot of evenings driving my dd to dance. Weekly I can manage. I do think I will need to eventually get a set of drawers for dd. She's not a big fan of worksheets (unlike ds) and most of her stuff does not fit well in the pockets. I had trays set up on a shelf for a while but the shelf ended up getting taken over for something else.

I never really needed to schedule the fun stuff - games, computer, playing outside, exercise - since we never have a problem remembering to include it.

Lou
05-04-2011, 08:41 PM
My amazon order is trickling in and I'm getting excited to see how the work box system plays out...and if it doesn't work, no biggie, because I'm a container mama and have NO PROBLEM filling containers with toys for the kids! :p

I do have two containers (similar to what a lot of folks use as work boxes) and I stuff them with random work sheets I print off the computer as I come across fun printables and books to read, etc....and today I put those out on the table (one for each child) and we started school as normal...I told them if they finish their school work (each subject) before the other they can do something out of their 'free choice box' and they both loved their free time...I had to giggle as they were doing work that we would 'eventually' get to. :) And then I realized it was working really well to have one on one attention with each child...so towards the end I was calling one child up to do a science lesson and then sending them off to their free choice box and calling the other up for their science lesson, etc...so I'm thinking their 'free choice' box will play NICELY into the workbox system! :D

KristinK
05-04-2011, 11:30 PM
ooh Julie. love how organized your shelf with workboxes is! nice :) thanks for sharing!

enjoying reading the tips here...I'm still liking the modified-workbox-system we're using. it's organized enough to keep us moving ahead, yet relaxed enough to not stress us out ;)