Last year during Big Brother's 1st grade year, it became apparent that we needed a change in our homeschool. I was experiencing a difficult pregnancy, and Big Brother was having a lot of trouble getting his work done. We were doing well to get maybe one or two subjects done in a day, and that was a struggle!
We didn't really have much of a routine in our day. Big Brother is a child who has to know exactly what is going to happen and what is expected of him. He was having meltdowns and becoming overwhelmed at never knowing how much school work he had to do. It was constantly "How much do I have to do?" or "Is this the last thing?" He would get so upset he would just lock up and we would accomplish nothing.
I knew I had to do something, so I started praying and doing some research. I discovered the workbox system, and the Lord used it to save our homeschool!
Now let me state quickly that we do not strictly follow the "official" original workbox system, but instead we have modified the idea to fit our needs.
We have a very small home, so the system using actual plastic shoe boxes would take up way too much space, and we could not afford any of the fancy drawer systems you see others use.
As you can see in the picture, we use 10 stackable letter-size desk trays from Office Depot. They are arranged in 2 stacks of 5 each on top of a small shelf that was already in our livingroom.
Each tray is labelled with a number 1-10 which is simply stuck on using double-sided tape. Obviously, Big Brother begins the day with the assignment in tray #1 and works through the boxes in order throughout the day.
When he completes an assignment, he places his finished work in a plastic drawer beside the shelf.
Once he finishes the assignment in tray #10 and all the trays are empty, he can visually see that everything is done and school is over for the day. No more asking!
As I have shown in an earlier post, we now also use the Love My Schedule charts to reenforce this system.
It only takes me a few minutes each evening for me to refill the trays for the next day. I look through each planned assignment and activity and make sure everything needed to complete it is placed in the appropriate box.
For example, in tray #5 might be an English assignment. I put in Big Brother's English textbook (with the page with the day's lesson marked with a Post-It), his English notebook(already opened to the next clean sheet and numbered for the day's assignment), and a sharpened pencil with a good eraser.
Or if Math is in box #6, I would put in all the items we will need for Math class that day (calendar, clock, workbook, dry erase board & markers, pencil, eraser, abacus, LEGOs, flashcards, money, etc.) depending on what type of lesson I have planned for the day.
Many times I will place a note in the tray to explain exactly what he needs to do, or to let him know if there is something else he might need to get that wouldn't fit in the tray.
I try to keep a good balance of independent work and activities for us to work on together. And I am always available to him. I love being Mommy and teacher, so I don't place any "help" limits on him or assign him certain "work with Mom" trays the way the original workbox system says.
Yes this system does cause me to have to plan ahead carefully, but it works so much better than "winging it" as I had been known to do before. ;) Big Brother is so proud of his accomplishments each day! He is so much more eager about learning, and when we follow our routine and system we have far fewer meltdowns due to being overwhelmed.
Do you use some version of the workbox system in your homeschool? I would love to hear about it!! If not, how do you order your homeschool day? Comment below!!