While listening to the Heart of the Matter Homeschool conference this year I had the pleasure of hearing Sue Patrick speak about her workbox system. I really wanted to try it out in our homeschool this year. But, finances being a little low, I decided to wait and see if I would get to review it for the TOS crew.
Since you’re reading this review, you have probably guessed that I was chosen as one of the crew members to receive this Ebook. I was super excited. I was sure this was going to change the way our school day progressed (or didn’t as was so often the case)
Before I tell you how we implemented the Workbox System in our home, let me tell you a little bit about what it is. It is designed by Sue Patrick who is a homeschool mom of a child with autism. In looking for ways to help her son learn, she came up with what is now all the rage in the homeschool community, The Workbox System. If you have looked very long at homeschool blogs, forums or just talked to a homeschooling family, you have probably heard this mentioned. She states that it works very well for all homeschooling children, from disabled to “typical”. I received the 122 page Ebook version. Purchasing the Ebook will tell you how to implement her system, but it is only the beginning to using it in your home.
The Workbox system shows you how to divide each students daily work into 12 boxes so that they can visually see what is required of them for the day. You (the teacher) fill the workboxes the night before with their assignments. As the student finishes them they remove the boxes and store them in a pile until they work their way through all 12 boxes. There is a lot of prep work for the teacher to do before you can start using this system in your day.
Sue states that you need to do this exactly as she states in the book to see if it will work for your family. After a period of doing it exactly as written, if you feel like it isn’t working, you may “tweak it” to fit your family. I think after reading the book she makes a lot of sense with her reasoning of this exactness, but we definitely “tweaked” the system.
When you purchase the book, you have access to special sections of her website where you can download the numbers for your boxes, number strips and other helpful items.
She says that it is never okay to not finish the workboxes and this helps with discipline in your homeschool. She also says it is not okay to mix up the order of the boxes. If you choose to follow the system exactly, I feel like the fun of homeschool takes a backseat to structure and seems more like a traditional school that I would like portrayed in our home. A couple of things that seemed too structured to me was that there are “I need Help” and “Quiet” cards used. I want my kids to learn independence but I also want them to know that they can ask me anything, anytime.
Now, let me tell you how we used this. I purchased two rolling carts with 10 drawers for my kids. (Did not use clear. Not because I don’t think it isn’t a good idea. Just couldn’t find them in my price range)(Also, didn’t use 12 boxes for the same reason) I let each of the kids pick what they wanted their numbers to look like. Bella picked pink squiggly numbers and Griffin picked pool balls. They helped me laminate all of the numbers and strips that we needed. I did print the “I need Help” cards just to see how they would work. They were used up with the first 3 workboxes with both of the kids. Guess I need to make more of those. I did place the boxes beside their desks like she suggests.
The first day I told them to put the drawers under their desks after they had finished each one. It created a super mess that I wasn’t willing to deal with. So after that they just put them back and took the number with velcro off the box and put it on their “finished number strip”. These boxes have helped me to be more creative in what we do during our school days. The content of some boxes does not change. We have math, handwriting or copy work, spelling/reading n a box every day. History and science are done on alternating days as is music and art. The other boxes are filled with a variety of stuff that we would otherwise never get to. We have done puzzles, worked with flashcards, did art projects, did special science experiments, used our Think-It-Through (from Discovery Toys) and done a lot of fun educational things that I always want to get to but just forget about. In addition to the 10 workboxes each day, we try to do centers that include computer time, read aloud time, and exercise time. What amazes me is that even with all of this work, we are still finished with our day by noon on most days.
She also introduced me to the idea of using posters as work centers. I have found several posters at yard sales which we have turned into fun interactive learning centers. One of them was a map of the US. We had two identical posters. I cut one of them into pieces of the individual states and had the kids find their match on the intact poster. This has really helped them to know where the states are and we had a lot of fun while doing so.
I have to admit, I let the kids go in whatever order they want when doing their work and there have been days that we haven’t gotten to all of the boxes. I know, I can’t believe it either.
So, even though we have not used the Workbox System exactly like Sue Patrick designed it, it has changed our homeschool (and our home in general) tremendously for the better. We (and I mean me) are more organized, get more done and are finished quicker than ever before. What can be bad about that? You should see for yourself what this new craze is about. You can order the user guide/Ebook here for only $19.00.
This is an item that had I not received on the crew, I know for sure I would have purchased it. If you have questions, you can view her frequently asked questions page. You can also view sample pages of the book.
As always, please check out what the rest of the crew members have to say about Sue Patrick’s Workbox System by visiting the Homeschool crew on Homeschool Blogger.
** Please note that I was given this Ebook for free in exchange for writing this review. I have given my honest opinion in all cases. Happy Homeschooling!