Workboxes continue to be a popular topic on various homeschool forums, websites and blogs and my workbox page is consistently visited on my blog. So I feel obligated to tell you that my workboxes and I are currently taking a break in our relationship.
Actually, we’ve been on a break for some time now. I’m not really sure when it happened, although I do recall a week some months ago when I said to Firefly, “Mommy, didn’t get a chance to fill your workbox but here’s a list of what we are doing today.”, hastily scrawled on a piece of paper.”
And he read the list himself and proceeded to get to work. It dawned on me that he no longer needed those task discs with little pictures on them any more. His reading was proficient enough. And as long as he knows at the start of the day what he is expected to do, he transitions easily from one subject to the next, without whining, fussing or collapsing onto the carpet in a dramatic fashion.
Soon, this “list” morphed into a weekly calendar. I print out a blank weekly calendar from iCalendar and write his assignments on it. That’s it. Nothing fancy. I do this on Sunday night or Monday morning, copying most of it out of my planner, which also contains stuff for The Queen Bee and general notes to myself on what I want to do that week, learning wise.
At the bottom of each day on the calendar, I write his outside activities: basketball practice, Lego club, a playdate with a friend, a drop off visit to Grandma’s. He looks forward to these things and it keeps him from asking me repeatedly what we are doing later in the day.
The Queen Bee, my 5 year old, never took to the workboxes much. She would pull out the stuff that looked fun and work on it, then refuse the rest. That actually was fine, as it helped me do some “research” into her learning style, what types of activities appealed to her, etc. For now, I just verbally let her know what I have planned for her that day and then we roll with it. She only has 2 or 3 tasks per day, we aren’t super structured since she is only in kindergarten. Plus she spends a good amount of time each day on educational computer sights, bringing me books to read to her and playing with math manipulatives. I think the workbox thing was more structure than she really needed.
When we were new to homeschooling, workboxes helped me to be organized, and to feel good about having a plan: Yes, my children will learn something this week. I won’t be collapsing under the chaos of a shrieking toddler, a mound of laundry, endless preparations of snacks and meals, and so forth.
Now we have a definite rhythm to our days. I am much more relaxed about their learning. All of the learning doesn’t take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day, or whatever. It’s much more spread out. For example, a lot of our reading (both me reading aloud to the kids and Firefly reading himself) takes place in the evening. Much easier to do that when my 3 year old has either gone to bed or can be entertained by The Husband vs. during the day when he interrupts for snacks, help with the potty, wanting Mommy to play with him, etc. ( I am speaking of the 3 year old here, not The Husband. Just wanted to clarify.)
So there you have it. No more workboxes, at least not right now. Perhaps we will return to them someday. Perhaps my three year old will be a workbox kind of guy when he starts doing schooly stuff. We’ll have to wait and see.
One more thing: Having a little supply box for each child has been a lifesaver. I’m not sure how or why but my kids keep track of these things. They put their pencils, crayons, erasers, scissors, glue, etc. back in their boxes each day with little encouragement from me and this has made life so much easier when we set to work on an assignment or a project. So we will keep using these wonderful little boxes. So simple, but such a timesaver.
You can read more about my other workbox posts here to see how they evolved in our house.
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