Friday, August 6, 2010

Getting started with workboxes

Have you already started school? I haven't, I like to always start my school year after Labor day. When August 31st has passed it just feels like summer is over to me. I do school year around and in the summer I have a very scaled back schedule. I like to catch up on things we got behind on. We always do math and reading. I usually do 2-3 days a week for an hour. Then I always clean up the classroom. I move shelves around, or in my case up and down. Organize the things that didn't work out the previous year. Get more plastic bins.

Last night we had or Mom's homeschool support group meeting. The topic was organizing your house and homeschool. I got to thinking about workboxes and what a blessing it was for me last year. After doing it all last year I can now look back and say, "wow, what a difference last year was compared to the previous years." It was a result of the workboxes.

What in the world is a workbox, if you haven't already caught the bug! It is a wonderful way to organize your child's school work assignments and materials needed for each subject. Workboxes include; workbooks, worksheets, books, flash cards, games, arts and crafts, snacks and sometimes even a surprise for the kiddos. Each workbox has everything the child needs for their work. An example would be a pencil, and crayons in each box along with the needed book and workbook. The boxes are numbered according to how many boxes you have. When your child completes one box they take off the number and attach it to a card before moving to the next box. Workboxes can be completed by children independently unless tagged with a “Work with Mommy card”. When all the boxes are completed the school work is done for the day. That is the system in a nutshell.

The first thing you need to do is to consider how much space you have to allocate to the workboxes and also a budget. I would love to have a different set of drawers in my classroom but, the reality is that I have every square inch of it used. The big one for me is budget. You can make your boxes out of things you already have in your house for free. You can be very economical – use cereal boxes, or recycle scrapbook toy bins, dollar store storage containers, magazine holders, bookshelves, shoe boxes and stackable desk top bins. Or you can invest in some type of bins. Which the price can vary drastically I bought a 7 drawer bin for around $20.00. I bought two bins for each kid. The original system calls for 12 boxes. Which would be nice but, the cost of the drawers was not something I could work into my budget. I use more than one workbook or subject in each drawer. The creator of workboxes Sue Patrick recommends one subject in each bin.

This is how I load my drawers usually. I mix them up and add unit studies, lapbook and games.

1st drawer is for bible, scripture memory and character training.
2nd drawer is reading, Daily language review and Tatras.
3rd drawer is math.
4th drawer is spelling and Language arts.
5th drawer is read-out- louds and history
6th drawer is science, geography and Hebrew.
7th drawer is art, misc and crafts.

What are the advantages of using workboxes?

1.)Versatile -  It works with any curriculum.

2.)Organized – forces mom to be organized and plan the school day ahead of time without last minute planning. Takes around 15 minutes a night to load the drawers unless I have a big project planned for the next day.

3.)Logical – Filing the boxes with assignments and projects make so much more sense than writing everything in a planner and then pulling them out one at a time during the day.

4.) Expectations – children know what is expected of them, and they can see what needs to be done daily, and when their work is completed. No more “Are we done yet or I'm tired.”  Looking at a paper with a list of assignments looks much longer than bins filled with books in the eyes of a child.

5.) Peace-Creates a smooth running and structured learning environment.

6.) Time saver – Everything is completely laid out before the day begins (no running around looking for pencils, scissors, markers and etc.)

7) Flexible – easy to adapt to any schedule. When interruption arises you can have the children do independent work until you are free to work one-on-one with that child.

8.) Training for independence - Your child can see what needs to be done independent or what needs to be done with mom or with the other siblings.

9.) Motivation - the children see all their work in one place and it doesn't look threatening, and they visually see that the bins are empty. Helps them to learn self-control and independence, give them a sense of accomplishment.

10.) Easily laid out for last minute emergencies- even Grandma or Daddy can fill in when mom can't. No more, "I couldn't find the needed supplies you put in the pile." or" I wasn't sure which book I was suppose to do." No excuses! The child knows how it works and all the supplies are in one place for each subject!

11.) My favorite part of the workboxes. You can incorporate all those things you bought but keep forgetting to add to your school day like like flash cards, games, geo-boards, homemade file folders and etc by placing them in a workbox. Before I started the workboxes it sat on the shelf and collected dust. The night before I thought of using it in school the next day but the stresses of the day and the unexpected happened. You know the rest of the story.

12.) Choices- This is a big one for my daughter. She feels that she has control of what she can choose to do first. That has been an unexpected surprise for me this last school year. With my drawers doubled up she can choose what she wants to do first. It's not mom telling her what to do! It has made her feel like a big girl. Now we have ground rules which I laid out in the beginning. If we have arts and crafts and games they need to be done after everything else is done in that drawer.

What do you think? Does it sound like something that will work for you homeschool? You can adapt this system anyway you like it. Here is the link to my workboxes. Have fun and do a google search on workboxes. Just don't overwhelm yourself. Remember, your family is unique and what works for one homeschool family may not work for you. You can tweak the workboxes to fit your needs. May the Lord bless you and keep you.


  1. I have twins that are 3 will be 4 in November and a son that will be 3 in December. How do I even start the workboxes to get them to understand not to just go in and grab them off the shelves? Thanks so much for your posts!

  2. I am with you, We start after Labor day also..You are so right, after August it so seems like summer if over also..


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