Update on Our Workbox System

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I’m getting a lot of visitors to my blog on my workbox page lately so I thought I’d post an update on how this system has worked for us thus far.  We use a file folder system in a portable file box.  You may want to read my original post  to see how it works.  Or you can watch this short video that I made:


Firefly, my now-2nd-grader, loves it.  He is very committed to our workbox system.  Probably more committed to using it than I am to filling it, but his enthusiasm motivates me.

It is a chore at times.  I don’t always feel like doing it in the evening because I’m tired or I have other things to do.  But often I have filled them in the morning.  Since I am an early bird and we don’t start schoolwork until 9:30 a.m., this has worked well for us.

The best discovery, however, was filling the workbox folders for the entire week.  This has worked for at least half of the subjects. I just write the day of the week on each assignment and Firefly does the one for that day.  For those subjects that don’t fit or can’t be put in the folder for the whole week, I prep them ahead of time, and leave them in a little pile on my desk, then slip them into the folders each day so it only takes a moment.  Yes, prepping for the week definitely makes workboxes less of a chore.

And I have a child who thrives on this system.  He likes seeing what he has to accomplish for the day. I get much less resistance and whining from him if he knows what he has to do.  He likes to choose the order in which to do his work, and that’s fine with me.  This is another way in which we deviate from the original, highly structured workbox system, as Sue Patrick wrote it.  But it works for us.

Now The Queen Bee, my newly-crowned-kindergardener, not as big of a fan with the workbox.  She likes to find the super fun stuff in her workbox and ignore the rest.  Which has not been an issue since she was doing preschool stuff and most of her “work” was actually play.  It has helped me to figure out what kind of learner she is, what types of things peak her interest.  I’ve considered much of what I’ve put in her workbox “research”, a way for me to gather information about her learning style before we get a wee bit more structured for kindergarden.

And Love Bug, my 2 1/2 year old.  Is there anything cuter than hearing him say, “Where’s mah wok box?”  He loves to discover the toys that I rotate through his workbox for him to play with while his siblings are doing schoolwork.  And often I’ll put household things in there that thrill him even more:  a bunch of wooden spoons, a container of toothpicks to stick into playdough, empty little spice jars filled with screws and bolts, a pile of coins and a sorting tray.

Are workboxes working for us?  Yes.  Will we continue to use them?  Yes.  It definitely makes our day run smoother when mom is not scrambling around trying to find the math manipulatives or copy something out of a book.

And one of the best parts is their supply box, which fits right into the back of the workbox.  This has saved us so much grief.  Pencils, erasers, scissors, crayons, markers, glue, etc. are all right there and everyone has their own so their’s no fighting over what belongs to who.

I love the portability of this system, too.  The kids can grab their boxes and we can head to any part of the house, go outside, or even get in the car and go somewhere with them.  We haven’t done that last one yet, but I’m sure we will.

A word about the task discs.

I love these and the kids love these but we don’t have one for every subject and it’s kind of a pain to make one here and there (find the clip art, laminate them, circle punch them, put velcro tabs on) so I’ve taken to just using these:

Tabbed paper clips for folder labels. Easily removable, since we don't do all the same subjects every day.

Of course, post-it notes or an index card paper clipped on the folder would work just as well. Crafty and fancy are fun but sometimes easy and convenient are my friends.