Saturday, August 21, 2010

Organization System Saturday- Workbaskets + Workboxes=Works for 4 (children)

So we started our homeschool year at Sacred Heart Academy this past Monday on Aug. 16th.

Even though I have been homeschooling since 2005, I ALWAYS feel anxious, overwhelmed, and wonder how in the world am I going to fill my children's hearts, minds, and souls with more of Christ's love and book knowledge AND keep up with housework AND keep my sanity through it all???????????  For me, every time I begin another homeschool year it's like it's my first year.
 But why is that?  I think it's because each year our family dynamics have changed as our kids grow older, there is new curriculum to get used to, a new routine, new challenges with discipline to overcome, and new triumphs to embrace.

To be honest with you, by the end of last year, I was in tears ALOT along with my children and I didn't know if I could do this homeschool stuff anymore :(  It's times like these when I start to think that no other homeschool mom is feeling as frustrated and down in the dumps as I am.  I was wondering what I was doing "wrong" because our homeschool days were not peaceful like all those "other" homeschools I visit through blogs.

Something had to change and I realized that one thing that needed to change (besides me having a more consistent prayer time) was more organization and clearer expectations for my children.
So last year, a local friend first introduced me to Sue Partrick's Workbox System which is a way to break up your child's work assignments by placing one lesson/assignment/activity into separate boxes.  Usually these boxes are plastic Sterilite shoe boxes or crates, but most homeschoolers find any type of container that works best for them.  The child works through the boxes throughout the day and when they are through with all their work in each container then the child has a feeling of accomplishment after completing all their work in an organized and systematic way.

So I have used ideas from Sue Patrick's book and have visited many blogs to create a system that is working for us so far ( it worked for Week #1 at least).  I call it the Workbaskets + Workboxes = Works for 4 (children) organization system.  Here are some pictures and explanations:

I already had 4 cloth baskets that I have used for several years, but they were always in a disorganized mess with my children's books thrown in there and papers flying everywhere.  So my husband built this white shelf to hold the workbaskets with 3 cubbies underneath.  Each child gets their own workbasket, but the green basket on the far right is where I store all the teacher manuals that I use for each of my children's subjects.  Having my teaching manuals all in one place makes it easy for me to pull out the next book I need to teach from.   My 2 year does not have her own workbasket yet.

Here is a close up of Cupcake #1's workbasket. Her name is typed out on bright pink paper (Cupcake #2 is blue paper and Cupcake #3 is purple paper) and slipped into the front pocket of the workbasket. (refer to first photo). I printed out all her subjects in the same pink color. I then used clear packaging tape to tape each subject to a piece of Elmer's sturdy white foam board that I bought from Wal-Mart, but any craft supply store should have foam boards.  Behind each board is where I store their books for each subject.  Then on brown wood paneling I have numbers taped to each wood piece.  The numbers correspond to the workboxes that are in the form of a 10 drawer rolling cart that I bought on Amazon. Right now the price of the cart is $31.13, but I paid $53.00 for mine when I purchased it in the summer!  Here is the rolling cart I use for my workboxes:
There are many blogs and Yahoo groups that have number templates already prepared to label workboxes, but the numbers I use came from a bulletin board set that I bought at the Dollar Tree Store a few years back.  I just cut up the numbers, laminated them, and taped them to each drawer.  Cupcake 1 has drawers #1-3, Cupcake 2 has drawers #4-6, Cupcake 3 has drawers #7-9, and our two year old has drawer #10 .

So when each child sees their box # on their assignment sheets they go to the corresponding drawer and pull out the activity.  As my children complete their book lessons and their workboxes, they just put their textbooks behind each foam board divider, turn the foam board / numbered brown boards over to show that they have completed that assignment.  When all the boards are flipped they know they are done with their schoolwork for that day.  Then in the evening I flip the boards over to the subject/numbered sides and refill their workboxes in the rolling cart.

Here is a picture from Cupcake #1 and Cupcake #2 workbaskets of some of the boards flipped (subjects/numbered workboxes completed) and boards still showing subjects/numbers (subjects/numbered workboxes that still need to be completed.)

I must say our first week of school was actually peaceful for the most part and my children enjoyed working through their Workbaskets + Workboxes = work for 4 (children) organization system.  Of course, this is only the first week of school so the "newness" may wear off, but I'm hoping that this organization system and setting clear expectations for my children will = (equal) a much more enjoyable homeschool year compared to the one we had at the end of last year.

In a near future post, I will talk about what type of activities I put in each of the numbered workbox drawers so this will have to be continued so check back here soon!  Like I said, this is only our first week with this organization system, but I'm hoping in another month or so I can give a positive update and tell you that it's still working.  Only time will tell...

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Unknown said...

I too seem to start each year feeling overwhelmed and excited all at the same time. Life is never boring! Your system looks great :)

Hi Jen! It's always nice to know that I am not the only homeschool mom that is filled with so many different emotions when starting a new school year! Thanks for visiting today and your comment :)
Have a good weekend!

wdworkman said...

Looks good! It's so nice to start out the year happy.

Janet W

Hi Janet! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment :) I just hopped onto your blog and left a comment on your current post. It is nice to start the year off on a happy note. I am praying and hoping the fun continues :)

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! You look SO organized :) I try to be !! Your inspiring me to get even better !! Have a great weekend !

Hi Tammy at "Matter of Fact"! Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment! I just left a comment on your latest football post :) Awesome pictures!
I try to be organized too, it makes our house/homeschool run so much smoother :) It's always a work in progress for me to get organized and stay organized!

Dorcas said...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas. I just started homeschooling mid last year. I am a wreck this year. I don't know where to start. This helps me and gives me hope. Thanks for these great ideas. Found you through a friend's blog. So glad I did.



Hi DORCAS- Thanks for stopping by, leaving a comment and following. I'm following you now at 4 Crafty Angels blog. I love your cards! They are so creative! Your blogs look great too!

Take one day at a time with the whole homeschooling adventure :)
Keep in touch!

Great tips. I have a hard time keeping organized with one - fantastic job doing it with four! Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

Julie said...

Great organization, I love the cubbies. I'm your newest follower from Relax & Surf Sunday, hope you can stop by and say hi too. :)

Unknown said...

Great Tips! Following via Relax & Surf Sunday. Hope you follow back!

Anonymous said...

Great post full of tips! My emotions are wavy when we first start school, too. I'd think after all these years, it would get easier, but some years are better than others. Thanks for sharing :)


Hi TerriAnn at "Cookies and Clogs"!
Thanks for your visit and comment :)

Hi Fun Fritz Family! Thanks for visiting and following my blog. I just made a comment on your latest post, I'm following you back, and I entered your blog hop as A Slice of Smith Life :)
Have a blessed Sunday!

Shanti said...

Hi, following via Relax & Surf Sunday..Check out my blog and feel free to leave comments/suggestions...Love your organizing tips

Hi Julie!
I just stopped by your blog, left a comment about those yummy bars and I'm your newest follower!

Thanks for visiting here!
Have a blessed Sunday!

Mom2Seven said...

Very nice, Tracy! We are beginning our 16th year of homeschooling! And, I still find myself in tears from time to time! ;) +JMJ+

Hi Tamara at "Branch of Wisdom"! I just stopped by your lovely blog and posted a comment. I love your post about your schedule and how things happen all the time that were not on our schedule/lesson plans! So true!
Have a blessed Sunday and thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

Hi Shanti at "Purely for Fun" !
Thanks for your visit, comment and follow. I am your newest follower and I just posted a comment on your "10 Ways to Show Your Kid Love" post. I loved reading your lovely ideas :)
Happy Blogging and visit anytime!

Hi Annita! As always thanks for visiting again and leaving a comment! Your comment makes me feel better, knowing that no matter how many years of homeschooling, some days/hours/minutes/seconds are going to be better than other days/hours/minutes/seconds! :)

Unknown said...

I, too, struggle with organization and homeschooling! I look forward to seeing how this works for you. I'm still trying to figure out what will be best for us. We definitely have cramped quarters here which makes being organized even more important! Thanks for such a helpful blog!

Hi Natalie! Thanks for stopping by and your comment! I'm glad you found this post helpful as you we continue to use trial and error when it comes to organization and homeschooling!
Have a good day!

Laurie said...

Looks great!! Having the workboxes revitalized our homeschool as well. I love your mathematical equation. :)

Thanks Lori for your visit and comment :)
It seems like alot of homeschoolers are using some variation of the workbox system with their families.
Have a blessed day!

I'm your newest follower from friday blog hop. Hope you will follow me back.
I'm a home schooler to.
Have a blessed weekend

Thanks "amy2blessings" for your visit, comment, and follow! I am following you through GFC and I just left a couple comments on your blog! I love your children's leaf drawings!
Have a blessed day!

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