Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Workbox Update

Tuesdays and Thursdays here at Down Home will usually offer tips and tidbits relating to home learning and home life, organization, crafts and activities, classical education, informative articles, or parent polls... all kinds of good stuff.

Maybe you've heard of the wondrous “Workbox System” that has functioned so well for many families in managing school work on home days. If you haven't, last year we featured a couple of articles on how two of our SLOCA families use this system. You can go here to read how we (the Bischoffs) started using workboxes, and here to read workbox tips from the Talleys. For general information about workboxes, check out Sue Patrick's website. Though it may not be the right fit for everyone, many families have found increased organization, independence, and peace in the home after implementing this system, or a modified version of it.

Our family has made several small workbox modifications to fit they way we do things, and as we start fresh this fall, we slightly revised our workbox system again to address one common complaint: the traditional boxes are too narrow to fit some of the books, resulting in that unsightly bend in paperbacks, or difficulty fitting larger hardback books. While I did keep one row of narrow boxes (for those subjects that don’t require a large book), I replaced the others with 2 shallower, wider boxes in each row, like this:


The wide boxes fit perfectly and can hold much larger books flat, as well as plenty of math manipulatives or other bulky activities. Although I can now only fit 9 boxes instead of 12 on the rack, I have found that 9 is sufficient for all of the subjects requiring books or items in a box. For the other subjects that still need to be done but don’t require a workbox, we are trying out a card with clothespins to track these tasks. Each clothespin is labeled with one subject (or you can just write on it), and the kids simply move the clothespin to the other side when they have finished the task. It hangs on the side of their workbox rack, attached with zip-ties:


(As explained in her book, Sue Patrick uses a workbox schedule strip to guide students through their day for both workbox and non-workbox tasks. The strip works very nicely, but we wanted to try something different this year to keep it fresh.) 

One other modification we use, for those who are new to workboxes: instead of emptying each box into a large tote when they are finished, my kids simply turn each box around to show the “Done!” cards that I placed on the back side of each box. This saves space, and saves me time later since all I need to do is turn the boxes back around instead of fishing them out of a bin and reorganizing them. Here’s what it looks like:


Have you tried using a version of workboxes? If you have some workbox tips or modifications to share, or if you've found something else that works for your family, please leave a comment below or send me an email! You can also email me if you have any questions about workboxes.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned business.

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