Need to Get Organized? Check Out Homeschool Workboxes

I recently started using homeschool workboxes for my boys based on the ideas in Sue Patrick’s Workbox System.

WOW!  My children have stopped complaining about school and we are getting twice the amount of work accomplished. This system is a godsend.  I love it! This exciting organization system structures your homeschool day in bite size chunks.

My favorite part is how this setup  helps the children understand where we are in the school day and how much time is left.  No more frustrating  “Are we done yet?” I never realized how frustrating it must be form them not knowing if the school day was going to be one or four hours. Public school children know how long their day will be.  Knowing what is expected–getting expectations up front is an important leadership quality (See the The One Minute Manager ) necessary for good morale and productivity.

I’ve always used a box system, of sorts,  many years before the term Workboxbecame popular. I keep worksheet and workbook assignments in one crate and boxes of history and science unit study books in other crates.

When I read about Sue’s Workbox System I immediately saw several  benefits over the system I was using.

Workbox Benefits

  • Versatile – works with any curriculum.
  • Prioritized -Always assign Bible study to the #1 box! You’ll get the most important thing done daily.
  • Economical – use cereal boxes, or recycle scrapbook or toy bins or dollar store storage containers
  • Easy– a few hours of reading and your ready to start your plan.
  • Organized – forces helps mom to be organized and plan the school day ahead of time.
  • Logical – Filing boxes with school assignments and projects make so much more sensethan writing things in a lesson planner then pulling them out one at a time all day long.
  • Saves Time – Everything is completely laid out before the day begins (no running around looking for scissors, markers, a certain worksheet,  etc.)
  • Flexible – easy to adapt schedule.  When interruption arises you can have the children to do independent work until you are free to do “Work with Mom” one-on-one.
  • Scheduled – everyone knows what is expected of them, how much work there is to be done, and when their work is completed. No more “Are we done yet.” (If I only had a nickel for every time I heard…”)
  • Promotes Independence – You and children can view independent or “work with mom” assignments at a glance.
  • Promotes Peace – Creates a smooth running well-structured learning environment (which make mom happy, and when mom is happy everyone is happy).
  • Motivates –  children to see all their work at all times, as well as see it disappear as completed. Helps children grow in self-control and independence, give them a sense of accomplishment.
  • Promotes Family Togetherness -Since everything is laid out you can rope dad into helping! share you homeschool experience with Daddy by letting him teach from a few boxes.
  • Systematize -You can incorporate all those things you bought but keep forgetting to add to your school day like   like flash cards, games,  timelines, map skills, etc by placing them in a workbox.

How Workboxes Work: An Overview

  • Create the structure with a rack or shelves for each child filled with  set of workboxes (from 6 to 12 depending on your preference)
  • You can create Workboxes out of shoeboxes, magazine racks, file folders, crates, wicker baskets, etc.
  • Workboxes are filled by mom daily to include the work assignments and materials needed for each subject.
  • Workboxes include; workbooks, worksheets, books, flash cards, wipe-off mats, games,   arts and crafts,  stationary, snacks and little surprises.
  • Each workbox has everything the child needs i.e. a worksheet and pencil or wipe-off mat and crayons.
  • The boxes are numbered.
  • The boxes have direction cards  i.e. read mom a story, write a letter, 30 minutes of free time, etc. ( laminated cards can be used over and over, moms all over cyber space and making cute printable to share)
  • Children complete one box before moving to the next.
  • Workboxes can be completed by children independently unless tagged with a “Work with Mom” tag.
  • When all the boxes are completed work is school work is over for the day.
  • See the book for details  Sue Patrick’s Workbox System
  • Watch theexplanation video posted on Sue’ site.

Modifying the Workbox System  for the Heart of Wisdom Approach

We adapted Sue’s recommendations for the Heart of Wisdom approach (unit study/Charlotte Mason methods). The majority of our school day is spent together reading aloud, copy work, narration, or lapbooking together. I have workboxes for each child (phonics, spelling, math, surprises, snacks, flashcards, handwriting worksheets, educational games, etc) interspersed with Family Workboxes for Bible, history, and science. Almost all our work is done together so instead of “Work with Mom” card my children have a few “Work Independently” cards.

“This structure provides both teacher and student an air of organization, clear expectations, and even a level of peace and calm, all of which creates a better learning environment.”~Sue Patrick"

My Homeschool Workbox Plan

I  temporarily converted my Scrapbook Organizer Cart (with Drawers) in to a Workbox Station to get started.

So far this is working  for workbooks and worksheets but the bins are much too narrow.  I want deeper bins for unit studies and lapbook projects.

I prayed for an alternative (because I don’t want to spend any money). Then, I thought of the boys IKEA’s Trofast toy station ( we bought at IKEA when we lived in VA).

It is sturdy and still looks great after 10 years.  I went upstairs and moved it into our dining room/schoolroom area. It is perfect–almost.

IKEA’s Trofast system comes with different size bins. Ours has very deep 12” bins (see right). I need the shallower bins as shown below. I can use 3″ bins for worksheets and workbooks but also use the deep bins to hold reading books and unit study books. I can’t wait to get my bins (cheap too only $3 each)

There is no IKEA near my home so I have to shop online and IKEA will not ship the bins I need

My parents live near an IKEA and will pick them up and bring them to me next month.

When get the system to a the place the way I want it,  I will post how to use Workboxes with Heart of Wisdom approach. Thats what Heart of Wisdom is about, incorporating super ideas that work.

Workbox Videos

Are You Using Workboxes?

I created a directory of over 50 families using the workbox system. Visit these blogs for great ideas how to tweak this system for your family.

What do you think? Doesn’t this system sound super!? Are you using it? Are you interested?

It seems to me every homeschooler that hears about this system jumps on it! Please comment and share.


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