Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cubbies...the New Workboxes

So, I'm not sure where to begin with this post. It's been a long time since I've reported on what's going on with or into our workboxes. The last time I posted on them specifically, I was describing some adjustments I made to our system. Back in January, I showed you a glimpse of how I'd removed the top two racks of boxes so the binders could lay flat on the rack. Still, they were hard to maintain and difficult to keep neat. Recently, you know that we cleaned and reorganized our school room in preparation for selling our home. Workboxes are not pretty- especially when there is no IKEA around the corner. I removed them from our school room and we put up two sets of cubbies.

So, what about the workboxes?

If you've been following along in our workbox journey, then you know I eventually came to the conclusion that they simply do not work for us as they were intended. What I thought would help me to pull more off the shelf and keep the kids doing a variety of things, really only produced contrived work that wasn't always necessary or really even edifying. For certain, workboxes do not match our relaxed style of homeschooling.

The reality is I don't need my kids to have 12 boxes worth of activity per day nor sometimes even six. We are more in the 3-4 activity range with time afterwards (and sometimes in between) to pursue interests. Actually, this is probably a hallmark of our homeschool- that our kids have time to pursue what they are passionate about. We want them to develop their interests and play them out so they know what they love and what they are good at. Dan and I especially value the time they have just to explore, play, imagine, read, invent, build, and interact with each other. Setting out 12 activities, whether or not they are well intended and purposeful, is contrary to one of the things we value the most in our homeschool.

We still have one cubby per student on the top row. Three whole student cubbies are shown above along with a piece of the fourth. That's where the binders they keep their math journals in are located along with things that don't fit on the school table in front of them- for example, the nature journals. For E13, that is his WinterPromise binder and his Mystery of History text. I put things I want the kids to see or try in there sometimes. J6 picked out some books to read and he keeps them there.

J6 has a game in his cubby too and I can rotate that game out or put any other activity there. During his school day he might be assigned a FIAR activity, a copywork page, and a math assignment- along with reading to me. Keep in mind J6 is a fluent reader and he drives a lot of what he does between and after his assignments for the day. He spells well and has gotten excited about writing his own sentences and forming the spelling. His handwriting has improved since the beginning of the year. He does not need a lot of reading and spelling drills and he loves working independently whenever possible. This is one student whose education, for sure, cannot be contained within a set of 12 boxes!

The rest of what the kids need is in the Desk Apprentice- a completely beastly desk organizer. BUT, with four kids and four side slots and four pencil cups...this is a good deal for us. It takes up way too much room, but then again we haven't had the piles growing on the table since then. It's a trade off. We keep the kids' main binders in the middle so they can put things away without getting up. In the side slots is loose leaf paper/writing paper, their assignment books, and their Life of Fred books. Then they each get the pencil cup to the right which house favorite pencils, a high lighter of choice, and a pair of scissors.

Anything else the kids need while they work is close by and easy to grab whether it's reference books, markers, colored pencils, glue or rulers. I'm very pleased with how easy it is to access everything we need for school and that it all has a place so it can all be returned neatly.

So, there you have it....true confessions. I will still keep my workbox tab there for folks to reference. I just felt it was time to update everyone on where I am with the concept. I'm rather glad I tried them out. It really helped me to solidify my place on the homeschooling spectrum.

How about you all? Where do you fall on the spectrum?


Sara said...

Thanks for your transparency on this - it's hard to know just how to organize time, materials, supplies, and I only have one child I'm homeschooling! Still for me the whole idea of filling boxes with activities seemed very...busy. We just use notebooks and bookshelves!

Tammy G said...

Thanks for the update. We are still using a modified system but I have wondered about cubbies as well. My oldest, age 9 has actually asked to go to a check off system instead of boxes but the boxes are great for storing her materials. My next child uses boxes but only 3 independent ones a day and 2 with mom. I agree, that filling 12 boxes lends it self to busy work so we have never done that. My younger 2 are not currently using boxes but I see where it maybe a benefit. Homeschooling is trial and error a lot of times--thanks for sharing.

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing. I think I fall more on the same side of the spectrum as you. I tried workboxes but they are not for us. We are limited in space so I'm still working on a "system" that stays neat and doesn't take too much space. Love your blog and all your great ideas.