Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kid-Scheduled Workboxes

As I mentioned, I never thought I'd try workboxes. And *try* is still a key word here. I'm going to try them.

Why workboxes?

*I am organizationally challenged. I hope this will encourage me (and my children) to keep things in their place and have things ready for each new school day. No excuses.

*With several workbox tweaks (described below), I want to foster my children's independence.

*My preschooler. At four, he desperately wants to "do school." He has a couple boxes in which I'll stash some hands-on activities and books.

*I have a LOT of school materials around here; I'm hoping this encourages me to use some that I've forgotten about.

Here's my plan...

I want my son to continue to schedule his day. I love the way this gives him a sense of responsibility. It's also beneficial for our parent-teacher-child-student relationship. *I* am not telling him what to do. The schedule--which he created--is telling him what to do. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem telling my children what to do (or I wouldn't have had FIVE); however, I do think that one of the challenges in homeschooling is the ever increasing amount of directives coming from adult to child. For homeschoolers it's not just parent-child directives, but also teacher-student.

I prepared* the schedule cards for this year as follows. (*I prefer to have the child create the cards, but in this instance I needed to figure things out as I worked. Tweaking, always tweaking.)

When my son wakes up in the morning, the chart will look like the one to the left. The orange/yellow cards indicate landmarks that I schedule: breakfast, lunch, rest time, outside play time, my exercise time, etc.

His first job in the morning will be to schedule his day using blue subject cards. Each card has a number in the lower right corner indicating approximately how many minutes of school time need to be reserved. I will set out the cards needed that day; each card will have a corresponding workbox, already filled and ready to go.

Blue cards include subjects:
  • science 
  • math calendar
  • reader/history (Sonlight Core 3)
  • journal
  • art
  • math 
  • writing workshop
  • violin
  • foreign language
  • Bible (Sonlight Core 3)
  • read aloud/history (Sonlight Core 3)
  • history (Sonlight Core 3)
  • cursive writing
  • "extra" (catch-all box)
And a few daily jobs:
  • pick up house
  • pick up room
(Remember, the subjects aren't all done every day. I will give him the cards he needs each day.)

Each subject card has a labeled box. (Or at least the ones that use school materials do. Things like "violin" are just part of the schedule and not boxed. I don't have violin-sized boxes! ;)

A few boxes are double labeled like the one at left; we will do art and science on an alternate schedule. A few boxes have an additional sticker. The MOMMY sticker.  This sticker indicates how many minutes Mommy needs to help. For a few subjects, it's the entire time. For most, it's a smaller length of time, designed to introduce a subject (teacher/student), followed by some time to do some independent practice work (student).

Each box includes all materials needed to complete the task. In the "read aloud" (Core 3) box at right, for example, the box contains the book as well as the iTouch containing the CD with the poems read aloud.

When he finishes a subject, he empties the box into a large "I'm done" box and turns over the related blue card.

No moving discs or worrying about velcro. And he still will set his own schedule. The biggest benefit to me is that I am accountable for having his entire school day ready to go the night before. As I told a friend, it's your basic "lay out your clothes the night before" routine. Just for school.

I never was good about laying my clothes out the night before. Hope I can do this. Although we're on Sonlight Core 3, week 9, and have been doing it all summer, we "officially" start school on September 7th. I'll report on my workbox progress then.

Two of my focus boxes on this blog will be preschool math and living math books/related activities. Check back!

See also: Kids, Homeschool, and Schedules


  1. THANK YOU for the wonderful ideas!! I have 5 school-age children still at home, ages 6-16, and this will be my first year using workboxes. After 14 years of homeschooling, I needed to introduce some freshness into the routine. I also have a couple of children with some learning issues and I need to pull out a whole new bag of tricks. I, too, am excited to use this system and dust off some of my materials so they can see the light of day. Thanks again for the little twist on the workbox system. I like your ideas.

  2. Thanks for your ideas on these. :)

  3. NIce idea may have to try this with my strong willed child, might make her feel like she has more control of her day. Thanks for sharing

  4. Looks wonderful. Love your blog. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I like this idea, too! I set up the workboxes last year, but had a hard time keeping up and I didn't quite see the need for all the moving velco-ed numbers around. I have been learning about Charlotte Mason and trying to figure out how to keep the workboxes, because I see the potential. This is one way of looking at it that I had not thought of before. I'm thinking. Thanks! I also would like to have our day be more child-led, without sacrificing the quality of learing. This works!

  6. Great ideas. I'm restarting my workbox adventure this school year and, like you, am hoping it will help me use up all the neglected resources I've accumulated!

  7. Even though we are not homeschooling and/or using workboxes, I like your idea of being prepared and letting your child decide what to do. I hope your new system will work for you long term.

  8. I've never heard of workboxes before. I will be interested to hear how you like them in a few months.

    I am not naturally organized but have decided to be more scheduled and purposeful in my homeschooling this year and have been struggling to prepare and plan the night before, so I don't know if this would work for me, but I look forward to hearing what you think.

  9. We are using a modified workbox system for my 2 sizzlers. It works out well and things that we do that won't fit in the boxes I write on cards and place in the box. I make the boxes the night before (sometimes the morning of :)) and they work through them. I like the Pocket chart but I think I need something on a smaller scale. :) Love this system you have set up!


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