Thursday, September 17, 2009

Workboxing Benefits

In a previous article on homeschool planning, I mentioned an organizational system that has become wildly popular with homeschoolers of all types. In this article, I will review this organizational system in more detail, both to enlighten those who may not have yet heard about this system, and to dispel some misinformation I have read about the system.

The Sue Patrick Workbox System is the organizational system to which I am referring. It has taken the homeschool world by storm the past few months – generating at least three new online discussion groups, working its way into the discussion groups of many different curriculums, and inspiring homeschool moms to devote several blog posts to their version of the system. For some, this overwhelming popularity is enough to turn them off. After all, most of us have tried, one too many times, the latest book, tool, software, etc., that’s just “guaranteed” to transform our homeschool into the most organized, most efficient, easiest-to-do homeschool ever.

If you already have an organizational system that works for you – great! Don’t change anything. If, however, you are struggling through your days, unorganized, failing to keep yourself and your kids on task, scrambling around to put together school work on a daily basis – this just might be the system for you.

The author of the system, Sue Patrick, developed it out of a desire to find an educational method attuned to the needs of her autistic son. She spent countless hours researching the best educational methods developed by professionals in the field of education for autistic children. Ms. Patrick took the best of each method she found and developed the Workbox Systemsm. Because she was teaching her son at home, she adapted the system specifically for homeschooling. Ms. Patrick shared the system with a few other moms who tried it, loved it, and then spread the word. Ms. Patrick began to get many inquiries from other homeschooling moms, so she decided to write a “user’s manual” for her system. She has also presented, and continues to present, her system at homeschool conventions.

When I first stumbled upon web posts regarding this system, I was intrigued. I am one of those moms who was finding it difficult to keep our school work organized, to keep us on task every day, to add in “fun” things to our school day like art and music, and to have the correct school work set up and ready to go each day. I had tried a couple of different methods to attempt to get us organized, but, ultimately, they (or I) failed. I ordered Ms. Patrick’s book and, after reading it, was inspired to try her system.

After two weeks of homeschooling with the Workbox Systemsm, I can tell you that it lives up to its testimonials. It has truly transformed our homeschool. It is keeping us organized, on task, and on schedule. For the first time, we are completing all of our work every day in less time. In addition, we are consistently able to do extra things like art, music, puzzles, and other hands-on learning activities that are fun for the kids. My children love the Workbox Systemsm, and so do I!

One complaint I’ve heard about the system is that it forces mom to micro-manage the homeschool, causing her to take too much time setting up each day. In my experience, I’ve found just the opposite to be true. As homeschool teachers, moms need to do some type of set up each day, anyways, to have school work ready to go for the child. What I’ve found with the Workbox Systemsm is that the daily set-up is more streamlined, organized, and efficient. In our school, each child has ten boxes. At night after the kids are in bed, I set up the boxes for the next day. It takes me about thirty minutes. The majority of the boxes hold school work; the rest are filled with extra activities. All of our school books, and all of the extra activities, are on bookshelves in our school room so that everything is immediately available to me as I fill the boxes. As I fill the boxes, I have to consult our chosen curriculum’s teacher guides, and so have no excuse for “forgetting” to get items ready for any extra activities, or science experiments, or special projects. This has been a blessing for my sometimes scattered brain!

Because my children are young, I have to micro-manage our school no matter what system of organization I choose to use. My children are not old enough to determine their workload for each day, nor are they old enough to set up their daily work. However, as they grow and mature, they will become more involved in the set-up of their school work, including the filling of their own workboxes. In fact, my nine year old already begs me to let her help set up the boxes each night. The set-up, itself, is a great learning tool as it teaches organization, planning, and responsibility. And, as the children move through the boxes during the school day, it teaches the importance of completing one task before moving on to the next. It allows the child to see just how far along they are in their school day, and gives them a sense of completion when the last work box is empty.

The Workbox Systemsm is here to stay at our house. Unlike other methods I’ve tried, it has actually worked. Our homeschool is more pleasant, and more fun, than it has been since we started homeschooling three years ago. More importantly, it has made our school more orderly so that we are more of a reflection of our orderly God. Our homeschool is still far from perfect, and always will be, but the Workbox Systemsm is a tool that is helping us be better at the way we do school.

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