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:
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:
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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