Thursday, January 13, 2011

New year, new schedule, Ms. Priss' new post

It's a new year and with it a new schedule.  Recently I had a conversation with another Mom about workboxes and my worktag system.  I have completely ditched the workboxes because they were just TOO much work on dear, frail, little me.  Heck I even gave one set of drawers to my neighbor for her to use for storage.

I am all about letting the kids own whatever they CAN.  Me filling up boxes with work for them as if every day is Christmas just wasn't fitting in with my Charlotte Mason philosophy of educating my children.  I don't believe Ms. Mason thought spoon feeding a child was particularly the best way to educate them. (Me being the robot shown)

And that is kind of how I've come to think about workboxes.  Don't get me wrong - I still think workboxes can be of benefit - to parents with many children particularly with young ones they need to keep busy or to parents of children with issues such as autism.  However I simply do not think that for my able-bodied girls that workboxes are either a necessity or a service to them.

So, I have decided to simply use the worktags sans workboxes.  If there is a task to be done there is a tag.  No more cross referencing some drawers with some work, etc...  My head wanted to explode every time I thought about the logistics of assigning them work.  Every assignment/subject now gets its own tag.  I just simply made sure I included at least some Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic for each day.  Here is a sampling of Tuesday's, Thursday's, and Friday's tags.

I also used to try to stagger their "work with me" times and have everything "flow" perfectly.  Gone are those days.  Now, they're responsible for working with me when they want to and if I'm busy or working with the other one they have to find something else to do. just works!

Ms. Priss wanted hers to stand up on her desk instead of hanging from a hook with a book ring.  So if you remember my post on altering notebooks, I simply used the chipboard spine of an old half size notebook/binder to hold them all together.

The way I figure it is if they are capable of opening a drawer and finding their work, they are capable of locating the book or item themselves.  And guess what?  They get to put the items away too!   For things like Math, Spelling, Logic Books, etc... they know that we simply move on to the next lesson or page.  It isn't a terribly complicated lesson planning system but it seems to work.

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out..."
                                                  --  Robert J. Collier

We had been using this laminated check-off sheet

However, I think the worktags will provide me the flexibility to be able to change their daily tasks if need be.  I was forever telling the girls "just skip so-and-so" on any particular day.  The laminated weekly checklist was making me feel like we were all terrible failures because we never sensed a feeling of accomplishment even though we were doing a lot and were all plenty busy.

For Ms. Priss' worktags I made a tag for her to blog on Thursdays.  So today she has a new blog post...  Do check out her recommendation.  You can visit her blog here:

If you'd like here is the pdf with the tags I use.  Also here is the pdf with the blank grids.  So that's it.  Never forget:  the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go askew.  And this system may too (hey, I'm a poet and don't know it).

Happy New Year!


"Say What?" said...

Impressive. I love organization and that's a great idea. I don't think work boxes would work for us either, although it is a good idea for some.

Jennifer said...

I like the work tag idea! I'm with you on changing what doesn't work and finding something that does...even if it means having to change several times!


Anonymous said...

It is always interesting to see how other people structure their homeschool. I have used many different systems during my 18 (and counting) years of homeschooling. What it comes down to is, if it works well keep it, if not throw it out. And sometimes a system will work for a season and then you outgrow it. Flexibility keeps me from going nuts! :)

Layton Family Joy said...

check off sheet - so smart, I love dry erase markers! That is an EXCELLENT idea!!!

Thanks for linking up to The HSV!

Isabel said...

I'm with you! I ditched mine too for the exact same reasons. I made color drawers out of them (for scrapbook paper). We're using a checklist now but I do like the idea of using just the tags. :)

Joyce said...

Great food for thought:) We do a very simple version of workboxes. We don't even use the tags right now. I just put what I want them to do in the bags. Oh, we use bags instead of shoe boxes. The LG storage kind. They all fit nicely in a plastic file tote. And one benefit of these is if we have to take a trip we just pick them up and put them in the car! School in the car! Yay! But, I have been thinking along the same lines for my oldest. I want her to be in more control of her day and what she does. Our "core"subjects are laid out like yours. She knows she has to do the next lesson or the next two pages or whatever. I still liked the idea of the workboxes as a way to add in an extra activity here or there. So your tag system may be just the ticket. I still really like the boxes for my younger two. It is really a great way to begin teaching them how to be independent without having to verbally remind them every day which subject is next. And I think it is a great idea for new homeschoolers who are just not sure where to begin every day or how to get their children started every day.
Thanks, Ginger! Like I said,good food for thought.
I will be making some posts on our "system" soon. (I use that term loosely:)And some other cool homeschool methods! Would love for you to stop by!

Jolanthe said...

that's pretty much how we're using ours {that's why I made activity cards instead}. I just have our 'workfolders' that hold all of the worksheets for the week in one place: science, language, spelling, math, etc... the core subjects. :) It takes so much of the pressure off to always fill and provide something FUN. :)

Not that we don't have fun. :)

SuzyQSparkles said...

So funny! A homeschooling friend is setting up her workboxes, and I'd never heard the term. I came across your original post about them, then clicked to see your latest entry and what should it be but about NOT using the workbox system.

Thanks for posting an update AND being honest about how it works for you. I really appreciate it!!!

Tabitha Teeter said...

I'm so glad to see this post. Workboxes are helping us, but they also don't fit Mason ideals. I've been hoping we will outgrow it in a year but I'm still transitioning my DD from a public schooler mindset. We are especially working on the habit of completing work. Now I have a vision for the next step after workboxes plus your tweaks on the scheduling for our current situation. This one day at a time thing is for the birds. I like the idea of mapping out the week. Thanks so much.