Last year, after being introduced to the concept on the FIAR forums, I jumped in with both feet. I was even asked to write an article about them for Heart of the Matter online Magazine. As a side note, I've seen the original picture from that article pop up on other blogs and websites over the last year and it cracks me up- to see our playroom/school room with its paneling splashed across the blogging world. Surprisingly, there is still a low level fervor about them and people are still blogging about "What's in the Workboxes for the Week".
In the article mentioned above I touted the usefulness of the boxes to help the kids have a living checklist and that it's great because everything is laid out ahead of time. I also said we could pull things off the shelf we don't use all the time and kept me in line.
So, what I have I observed about the amazing workbox? Well, several things actually.
- It's hard to keep up with them! Loading up anywhere from 6 to 12 boxes for 4 kids is a lot of prep work to be done daily/nightly.
- You have to be vigilant to keep them clean/have the kids keep them clean. Look below to see "the Messy".
- It's WAY too easy to put busy work in the boxes. I had to really evaluate here. Am I putting this in the box because it is valuable for this time right now? Or am I putting it in the box because this activity fills a box. Or in other words, if I wasn't "filling boxes" is this an activity I would have my kids do?
- We do a lot of our school day together. This fact does not exactly match Sue Patrick's Workbox Philosophy. Workboxes are designed to have kids move throughout their day independently. My kids CAN work independently and do some of their work that way, but we work together on discovery quite a lot. I'll be doing a post on that soon. So, more later on that one.
- The schedule cards are a NIGHTMARE. They do not mesh with my homeschooling philosophy whatsoever. If you are a long time reader, then you can probably imagine this to be true. We do not move through out day in a methodical fashion with each child checking off whatever piece of busy work I put in the box.
The Messy- though I give E11 credit for keeping his workbox world together (see left)Now you might be thinking that I don't use the workboxes any more. We do use them. They provide a function for us that is very useful and I'm glad we have them. However, we have modified their use for our particular brand of homeschooling. Please note that Sue Patrick is pretty stringent on how the system should be used. She designed the system to meet a need in her homeschool that may or may not be a need in yours. Keep that in mind as you consider workboxes and think about your own.
So then, how DO I use them?
- We store the core subjects we do in one box each- so the older kids have a FIAR box, a math box, geography box, timeline box, writing box, nature study box, a Story of the World box which is used here and there. That covers half the boxes there.
- Each child has a box that pertains to their passion pursuits- drawings, sewing, Magic Treehouse passport badges, buttons for play, paper folding book, their own creative writing, etc.
- I will put an activity in there they haven't done in a while- could be a craft project for the kids, a reminder of a play set to be used that day, book, game, etc.
- I do not use the schedule cards- I have a pattern we use to move through out day and the boxes are set up in that order. So, the kids can walk over there to get materials and bring them to the table for that time. Then when the lesson/activity is complete, they return the materials to the boxes. Herein lies the messy factor. I do not police the putting back of materials and things do get out of control from time to time.
The workboxes are not without value at our house, but over the last year I have come to realize how they best fit into our school.
How are things going at your house? Tell us how you manage to fill them every day. Do you have a secret?