Thursday, May 7, 2009

Organizing Our Day with Workboxes

A few weeks ago I was over at my friend Leslie's blog, where she shared something that I am very excited about - Sue Patrick's Workboxes.

You may have heard of these already because they have been causing quite a stir in the homeschool world. I just never took the time to find out what all the excitement was about until I decided to read Leslie's workbox posts. I was hooked before I left her blog, so I headed to Sue's site to purchase her book.

In a nutshell, the workbox system organizes all of your child's curriculum and activities for the school day into twelve clear-plastic shoeboxes, which are stored on shelves. This includes any activities he does independently, with you, or in a group setting. The boxes are numbered, and as your child finishes each box, it is removed from the shelf. As each box disappears, the student can see his accomplishments and what he has left to do for the day.

Sue encourages you to intersperse the boxes with enrichment activities too - in addition to your regular curriculum. This keeps students interested and provides a great means of review and reinforcement.

Right now our workboxes are set up under our kitchen island. When I finish moving our school room to the playroom, they'll go in there. I used the clear plastic shoeboxes and 4-tier organizing rack that Sue recommends. Both can be purchased at Target. I'm only using six boxes for each of the girls, and that's plenty for now.

We're in our second week of using this system. I know that's not very long, but so far it has worked wonders in our homeschool. I am amazed at how quickly our school day goes by and how much more we get done than we used to.

My children thrive on a certain amount of structure, and by using the workboxes I can create the structure they need but still have flexibility in our day. If we have to stop school to go to piano lessons or the library, we can just jump right back in with the next box when we return home.

Since we started this system, not once has Superman asked the age-old question, "How much more school do I have today?" He can see by looking at his boxes, and for the most part he and the girls are excited about getting to the next one.

My favorite things about workboxes:

-I can use all of the fun resources that have been collecting dust in the closet. (games, manipulatives, puzzles, science kits, etc.)
-My children are learning to be more independent with their learning.
-Our routine and materials for the day are organized and right where we can see them - from beginning to end.
-I am getting to spend more one-on-one time with Giggly Girl and Sweet Pea doing preschool activities with them.
-Our day flows more smoothly than it ever has.
-We're able to accomplish so much and get to the wonderful extras that often get left out.
-My children are more excited about school than they used to be.
-I can tweak the workbox system to meet our family's needs.

And Finally...
-Workboxes keep me on my toes, thinking and planning more purposefully for each individual child. (Sounds like a lot of work maybe, but it has been completely worth it. And each night that I plan and fill the boxes, it becomes quicker and easier for me to do. If life happens and puts me in a time crunch, I can just fill fewer boxes with the Three R's and our unit study.)

If this system intrigues you, I encourage you to visit Sue Patrick's website or Currlick and purchase her book. (It comes in hard copy and e-book format.) She explains her philosophy behind the boxes, shows you how to set it all up, and provides forms and other things you'll need to get started. (You're able to access these from her website after you purchase the book.)

You'll be hearing a lot more about workboxes from me in the near future.

In the meantime I'll leave you with a picture of the girls doing something from one of their favorite boxes so far...


  1. Shannon...I'm SOLD!!! Thank you for sharing. I had just heard about these, but didn't know where to find out more so now I know : ) This sounds so wonderful!

  2. I've been hearing about these for months...and a mom in my co-op has started using them. Everyone raves...I'm just trying to figure out where to put all those boxes?!

  3. Wonderful idea! And I agree that it allows you to plan more purposefully for each child. Love it!

    Could you email me? I have a question I need to ask. :o)

  4. Love it! Actually I have been on a bit of a workbox strike for a bit. I'm sure I will pick it up again. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog though. You are MORE than welcome to link to me, too! Blessings!

  5. Yeah! So glad this is working for y'all!!! I love the system for all the same reasons that you mentioned. I feel like I'm a much better hs mommy with this system. More fun. More organized. More purposeful. Just love it.

    Looking forward to hearing more from you on how you are using it.


  6. It looks AWESOME and I cannot wait until we are in our new house so I can give it a try too. We are so strapped for space in our temporary housing right now. It sucks.

  7. This sounds like something I can use with my children. My oldest has special needs and I think this would help me with him as well. Thank you for posting this.

  8. I haven't been able to access your site for awhile glad I can get back in. I like the workbox idea but haven't completely executed it yet. You've inspired me to take another look!


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