If I had been blogging regularly, you would know that my latest pursuit in the homeschool sphere of my life is workboxes. I stumbled upon the concept while reading the many homeschool blogs that I peruse. What exactly are workboxes and why am I so excited about them?
The WorkBox System was developed by Sue Patrick and is "An effective teaching system to reduce your organizational time and increase your child's self-control, independence and learning." You can find out more on her website. There are tons of other blogs outlining how others have used workboxes... here is a great link to some of those.
It became clear to me a couple of months ago that I needed to develop a system to organize what I did each day with each child. Since September I have tried various methods, created many forms, made tons of lists and nothing seemed to work in the long run. Having 3 different age and ability levels to teach, I want to be sure each child is getting exactly what they need. I loved the concept of Tot trays which I have been using with Buttercup (and a little with LiLi) but I was having the problem of where and when to set up the trays as we have limited space. I am also trying to encourage KaiKai to be more independent. He spends a lot of time coming to ask me how to do something, or waiting for me to give him the next thing to do. He is a child who likes to have a plan and know when something is going to start, end and every step in between. When I began reading about work boxes I started using a 5 part intray to layout KaiKai's work each day. He loved that... he could go and get on with his worksheets/ activities and only come to me if there was something I had to work with him on. The limitation with the intray, is that I can only fit a sheet of paper on each tray... If I have a puzzle, game, manipulatives to go with an activity, or a textbook, they will not fit on the tray.
There are a lot of ideas in Sue Patricks book which I eventually ordered and read that are helpful and some that I will tweak as have many who have used the system. The original system uses a cart with 12 shoe boxes but people have used a number of different types of shelving and trays. So what would work for us and the limited space that we have. I couldn't possibly find room for 36 boxes and there was also the challenge of not having Target or Walmart to run to to find the sterlite or rubbermaid containers/ drawers that many were using. I spent tons of time on line and at our local hardware store looking for the perfect solution and then a friend suggested the Ikea Trofast system. It looked like it would work for us. There is a company here that places your Ikea order and then ships it on to the island (for a significant markup but oh well what can you do :) Because of the holiday season the said it would probably be in in mid January... okay I would have to wait, using my improvised system.
I was so excited yesterday when the company called to say the order was here and ready to be collected!!! Yay!
I can't wait until they are set up... since we are on Christmas break after tomorrow I won't plan on using them until January so I have a couple of weeks to get things organized the way I want it. Stay tuned for more on workboxes...