Friday, September 04, 2009

Mission: Organization, the Homeschool Edition

Since first hearing about workboxes from fellow eclectic/Charlotte Mason-style homeschoolers in the SecularCM yahoo group, I've been working toward getting our homeschooling/living space organized. It's been an interesting shift--I'm seeing toys being brought down from upstairs during the day and actually being played with, instead of being strewn throughout the first floor rooms and largely ignored. The living area is much more peaceful to look at, as well. Gone are the one-per-child homeschooling cubes that quickly became overfilled with just about anything, and (mostly) the sideways stacks of notebooks that wouldn't fit in the fourth cubbyhole.
the eleven-year-old's set

the eight-year-old's set

the four-year-old's set

everyday resources

Sue Patrick's Workbox System grew out of her work with her autistic child, and, while I did purchase her book through Amazon, I also found a huge outpouring of ideas and resources from the many homeschooling parents in the Workboxes yahoo group. The general idea is that kids will have visual reminders of what needs to be done on a given day (or week, depending on how one tweaks the system), which help improve time management skills and increase self-reliant learning. In theory, anyway. ☺

Being someone who usually follows a recipe pretty closely the first time I make something new, I'm planning to keep with the "fill x boxes per child per day" idea as long as it's working for everyone. I've also kept the "schedule strip" idea, which you can see here (with names blurred out courtesy of iPhoto):

Activities on the schedule, besides delving into their boxes, will include group time (for lessons the older two have together), tea time (thanks, Bravewriter), nature walks, mental breaks like crab-walking around the room or rolling across the carpet, music lessons and practice, online educational games, Skype-ing a friend or family member for a few minutes, and more:

While I think my kids will benefit from using the system, I think they will benefit even more from my use of the system. No more printing out pages while the kids sit at the table waiting, or, worse, wander off and get distracted by something else. No more really cool materials sitting on the shelves, unused, because we've forgotten about them or just don't have time to make use of them. Time for me to harness that creative gene I know is somewhere in my 23 pairs of chromosomes and fill the boxes with a combination of must-do homeschooling work, possible rabbit trail beginnings, and miscellaneous fun stuff. Once I have a solid idea of what's going in this coming Tuesday's boxes (this weekend's task), I'll post more. Wish me luck, and a firm grip on my sanity!


Lisa said...

Wow! Looks very nice. I love how you worked it into your space. Good luck!

Christine said...

Looks very well organized, I hope it goes well for you!

Just in Case the Rockstar Thing Doesn't Work Out said...

I love your organization!

Is that an IKEA set up? I am hoping to eventually transition out of our toy organizer we are using now into something that looks more bookcase like.

Angela said...

This system is BEAUTIFUL. I got the default setup, but haven't used it yet, as I'm waiting for something more aesthetically pleasing. I also want bins that will fit actual books instead of bending them! Did you buy this setup somewhere, or was it custom-built? Where did you get the bins?

Fiddler said...

Hey, Lisa--how are things going for you & P.?

Christine, thanks for the thoughts.

Rockstar & Angela, this is indeed an IKEA set-up: the TROFAST system. That size of bins come in a fun apple green, as well, but we have nothing that goes with that color in our living area, so I went with all white. I love how much it blends with the walls. When I saw how well the bins fit all of our curricula, I was sold.

Thanks for stopping by, all!

Suji said...

I'm having serious schoolroom envy! :) Very pretty set up Christina. I'd love to know how you got this started and completed so quickly too. Good for you! I'm going to check out that yahoo group as well :) Thanks for the heads up!

Fiddler said...

Hiya Suji,

You've got that lovely new house--no envy allowed! ☺ Kidding. I envy other people who have dedicated schoolrooms that aren't a part of their living rooms/kitchens (yes, Angela, you would be one of them)!

The set-up really has helped, but man, I've been busy filling those boxes and sorting out the schedules each day. And then figuring out what we're doing for "group time" several times at day on top of that. Will blog this weekend about how it's all going, I hope. Plus I have new flora to put over on the 100 Species blog!

Another Lisa said...

I love your configuration. I have sloped walls and so can't get the tall TROFAST, but will do two shorter ones side-by-side for each child (only have two). I have just joined the yahoogroup but am overwhelmed by volume. All I really want is some basics for the schedule strips and cards. I've seen only very stylized, and many girly or otherwise cutesy, which will not appeal to my 12-year old boy! Can you tell me where you got your schedule/activity cards, or did you make them yourself?

Fiddler said...

RE: the activity cards, I'm still trying to figure out where to put my pdfs so that they are accessible from my blog. Scribd is one option but I haven't had time to sit down and figure it out yet. The pdfs of the cards are already in the files section of the workboxes yahoo group, though, so you can find them there under "activity cards" with fiddler422003 as the creator, Lisa.

Another Lisa said...

Thanks, Fiddler, it was easy to find them in the files section of the yahoogroup once I knew what to look for. I bought two TROFAST towers (I found a way to fit them against a different wall) this week and am now busy printing, laminating and affixing Velcro dots!!! I would love to start tomorrow morning with workboxes filled, but have a lot going on today and do not want to do a rushed job that falls flat. I really, really want the kids to think this is the greatest thing ever.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks so much for the pointer to the activity cards. Both my kiddos have some mild issues and I know from occupational therapy that adding in things like spinning, rolling, animal walks, etc. can make all the difference -- so those cards will be especially handy, and this method might mean we actually remember to do some of those things during our day!

I have not the faintest idea how to make such pages myself -- finding and importing clip art. I see now that I need to learn!