Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Workbox Tip from Jill Talley

The PIE team hosted a workbox seminar on Friday--did you attend?  Today we have another workbox tip from Jill Talley.  Jill and husband, Todd, are a Track A family with three children:  Karena (Primary), Violet (Kindergarten) and Daniel (Jr. K).  This is their third year attending SLO Classical Academy and Jill has been serving on the Board of Directors for 5 years.


I had heard about Sue Patrick’s Workbox System from a number of moms here at the school and went to the PIE team’s Workbox System workshop last year to get a feel for it. After hearing from other moms and seeing how the system works, I did a quick read of Sue Patrick’s Workbox System book and felt like this was something I needed to implement. I needed help staying ahead on my home school days and I knew that organizationally the home days were not going to get easier on their own.  As a matter of fact, with my two younger children also at SLOCA this year, the home days were only going to become more challenging.

Fast forward to today, I have implemented a lot of what Sue writes about in the books. For example, we do the Posters, the Science Centers, and I make sure my kids know that those “I Need Help” cards are very valuable (I tell the kids they are like a wild card in a card game) and to be used only when they cannot move forward with their work.  However, one area where I’ve actually added a lot is how I communicate to my kids what they need to. Sue talks about how there should be “very little extra talking” in the home school room and I agree with that. I get worn down pretty easily when my kids are consistently asking me to clarify something that could have been presented (by me) much more clearly.  



photos by Jill Talley

As you’ll see in the picture below, I’ve made a number of custom labels that I use so that my students know exactly what they are expected to do, even before they’ve looked in the box. As you all know there is a lot of repetition in our home day studies. I’ve made simple labels for those repetitive study areas on card stock with a Velcro back. Some of the labels I use are: Nature Journal, Poem Practice, Library Book Free Reading Time, Math Flash Cards, Sharing Assignment, and Home Project to name a few. This way the student sees the label and knows what’s expected of him or her. If my children need further instruction (about any specifics with an assignment), I include those specifics on a 3X5 card inside the box. 



The noticeable change I have seen, is that my children very rarely ask me what they need to do. The label communicates it first and, if needed, the 3X5 card drills down into the details of the assignment. Sue Patrick, creator of the Workbox System, says if your student doesn’t understand the assignment it’s not because the student is lazy or lacking intelligence, instead it’s because the teacher (you and me) hasn’t presented the assignment in a way the student can fully understand. 

Improving the communication with my kids during our home school days has been transformational for our family.  


Thank you, Jill, for sharing how the Workbox System is used in your home.  Do you have any workbox, organizational or home school tips you'd like to share? Please email 53shopping@charter.net if you have an idea.


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