Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Style Workboxes

This post is for those of you who know a little about workboxes but are overwhelmed by the thought of putting them into practice or having all those boxes around!

The idea of workboxes appeals to me, especially the part about how independent it makes your children and that they gain ownership of their schoolwork. The practicality of having that many boxes in my living room, which is where we homeschool most of the time, does not appeal to me. So, this summer I wanted to see if I could simplify the idea to work for me. My only rule was not buy anything, so if it did not work, I would not regret it.

To assemble one set of workboxes, I took one of those plastic milk crates designed to hold hanging files and nine hanging file folders. I labeled the folders one through nine. I printed out a table from Word that I created with the numbers one through nine. I put a small post-it note in each hanging file with a fun sticker on each note. Then, each evening, I filled the folders with work and activities for the children to do, attaching a larger post-it with instructions when necessary. That's it!

Admittedly, we only used the folders for a week or two, because our summer schooling got derailed several times. But, the children did enjoy them. They liked being able to rely on themselves and knowing what comes next. We mostly did the folders in order, but sometimes the children were allowed to skip around (like when an activity required Mom's help and Mom was busy or when both children were supposed to do the same thing but one was not finished with another work). I enjoyed having everything set out the night before, since I am not a morning person, as well!

This school year has gone really well for us, all things considered. I have felt like our short lessons, Charlotte Mason style, with tons of living books have really made learning meaningful for all three of us. Recently, though, I have not been feeling well and have had a hard time getting moving in the morning. We also have had some discipline issues, and so, I resolved the children needed more responsibility and more structure.

I brought out the crates again on Monday, and while it has not been a perfect week, for the first two days both children began schoolwork before I even asked them to get started! Filling the folders (we are using twelve, now, instead of nine) has forced me to find work the children can do independently, so they are not relying on me for every single folder. Instead of post-it notes, I printed out some fun number clip art I found in Word, floral numbers for my girl and walking numbers for my boy. The children know they must finish their first eight folders before recess and do the remaining four before lunch.

I would post pictures, but the crates are not really that attractive. Like I said, I used what we had on hand. I feel like this is a good level of commitment for me. I can use the folders when I feel we need them and put them away if they do not fit our style of schooling at that time. I am not sure if we will use them during Advent, since our schooling is so different during that season. But, I can imagine pulling them back out in January to motivate all three of us to keep going and avoid burn-out.

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