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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sue Patrick's Workbox System

I was listening to a conversation between two moms at our homeschool meeting recently, when the conversation turned to workboxes. I had never heard of these before, and only got to listen in for a moment before the meeting began. I heard enough that my interest was piqued however, and came home that very night to learn more online.

I cannot tell you everything about the system, as that would be a huge disservice to Sue Patrick, who spent years researching and formulating this system of organizing and implementing your school day. She has a website at http://www.workboxsystem.com/ but truth be told, her site didn't give me enough information to decide if I really wanted (or needed) to try yet another system. Reading the blogs (and glowing testimonials) of the many moms who have begun using this system is what made me want to try it, and so last night I bought the e-book from her site.
It's 122 pages and a very quick read really, as you can skip straight to the topics that speak to you most. You soon discover that this is much more than an organizational system; you get many helpful hints and tips about homeschooling in general, about learning centers, how to use posters more effectively as REAL learning tools, and even how often-neglected file folder games can play a big role in education and review.

I want to give you just a bit to go on, to decide if the workbox system might work for you at all, but not enough to give way Ms. Patrick's work.

Basically, you have plastic shoe boxes on a shelf or rack, up to 12 boxes per child. These boxes are numbered in the order you want them worked. Each night you fill the child's boxes with their work for the next day, a math sheet in one box, language in another, etc. But the neat thing is you also throw in some snacks in one, maybe a board game in another, those never-used-but so-cool-you-just-had-to-buy-them manipulatives, a file folder game, that Play dough that you never bring out of hiding for fear it might actually get messy, a card that says, "Read a book to sister", etc. You vary these throughout the day between the harder schooling and the easier, fun boxes. The child visually sees what they have lined up to accomplish and that they have fun items as well as the empty boxes signifying the work they have done. This makes them want to work more efficiently to get to the "good" boxes.
Mom can vary the boxes so that while one child is doing independent work, another can do a box that requires mom's presence. This makes for less stress on the part of mom trying to be everywhere at once, and less waiting for one child as mom finishes up with a sibling. Also, this method helps one to utilize toys, games, and items that are educational but rarely get pulled out of cabinets and used.

Perhaps the biggest plus to this system as it looks as though it would help a child stay focused better on the task at hand and be a more-organized individual.

I'd tell you more but buy the book instead, or at least go sniffing around some blogs and see what moms are doing with this system. There are lots of great photos of families using workboxes or even changing the system to fit their budgeting and space needs (something the author does not recommend doing, just so you know). Just Google "workboxes" or "Sue Patrick workboxes" and you'll turn up plenty to get you going.

I can see us trying this come fall, at least with my two younger children first, after a Summer of tweaking and getting it ready. If it works for them I can always add in my highschooler. I am the Queen of "paper organizing", meaning I can organize like crazy in writing. I'm quite obsessive about list-making and planning, but it's the actual carrying out of my plans which fail 95% of the time. I lack discipline, will power, and consistency. If Sue Patrick can get my homeschool running smoothly after all the "methods" I've tried since 1998, then she is my new hero!


1 comment:

kayla said...

Oh my goodness! I love your blog. This really hit a chord with me as I thought I was the "queen of paper organizing!" My husband always shakes his head when he hears my new plan and wants to know how much time I spent making the lists, or charts, or plans, etc. and then he'll believe it when he sees it.. Which he never does! But that doesn't mean I don't believe in my heart that this time, the plan it will work! I am also looking at workboxes. Bought the book and all the stuff. we Shall See! Thank for your writing. I enjoy it!