Workbox Crate: simplified homeschooling

Y’all, this is in the category of life-changing as far as homeschooling my 7-year-old. I’m not exaggerating; we’ve only been doing this a couple of weeks but it has already made a HUGE difference in our days. My main goal for this was to save my sanity by giving my active girl some much-needed purpose to her day, and it’s done exactly that.

workbox crate for simplified homeschooling

If left to her own devices, my youngest girl gets into trouble and/or annoys everyone in the house; however, when she has something to DO, she’s a joy. The reality is, I simply don’t have the energy to come up with something for her to do every. waking. moment.  {This is the girl with the polar opposite personality from my quiet-loving introverted self.}

Before this, our days were haphazard. Sometimes I’d sit down and “do school” with her, sometimes not. When I did, she’d pester me to do more. When I didn’t, she’d endlessly pepper me with questions about when we’d do it and what we’d do. It drove me crazy. Clearly, she needed more structure to her day, but I didn’t want to compromise my unschoolish philosophy for the early years. We needed a happy balance between the two.

My workbox crate system:

What I finally came up with was inspired by two posts. First was this one I remembered reading a few years ago, when I didn’t need it. I looked it back up when I realized it would work well for us. Essentially, it’s Kris’ modification of Sue Patrick’s original workbox system, condensed into a crate with hanging files. Perfect.

Workbox crate with hanging files.
WorkBox crate

But I didn’t think the laminated chart and velcro pieces would work for us, so my workbox crate and files sat mocking me on the piano bench in my office while I pondered. And then I read this post on using spiral notebooks to simplify homeschooling. It was exactly the solution I needed.

Spiral notebook with assignments.
assignment notebook

How it works:

I recommend reading both of those posts I mentioned above for more details. I’ve tweaked it all to suit me, but it’s essentially what those posts explain.

Each morning, Scout pulls out her spiral assignment notebook, and starts with the first thing on the list. I labeled each hanging file with a number rather than a subject, so it’s easy to find but I can switch them up easily anytime I want.

As she finishes an assignment, she checks it off, puts her completed paper or workbook back in that file, then moves on to the next one. Right now there are only 5 files but I can add more later.

Example of a typical day:

  1. A Reason for Handwriting, p. 52
  2. Math, lesson 8
  3. Explode the Code, p. 23-24
  4. Map Skill worksheet
  5. coloring sheet

This amount of work usually takes her about two hours. I stay nearby for questions, and particularly to make sure she understands new math concepts, but she is able to do the majority of it herself. This lets me get dinner in the crock pot or start a load of laundry, etc., while she works.

Happily busy girl.

Prepping the workbox:

Each evening, I take out the papers she did that day and move them to my own file, double-check her work (I usually see enough as she’s working it to know she did it correctly), and write out the assignments for the next day. It’s no trouble to hand-write it; I just have to remember to do it since it’s not yet a habit.

I looooove the flexibility of this system. Some days I switch up phonics with spelling or grammar. The coloring sheet is from one of my ocean animals coloring books, a color-by-number, or other printables I’ve found online. I’ll occasionally swap out A Reason for Handwriting with poetry copywork. And once we finish that map skills workbook, I have other geography worksheets for her to do.

Now that this is going so well, I can gradually add in other things on my want-to-do homeschooling list. Like art in the afternoons and read-alouds at lunch time.

{Can you believe it’s been two years today since we met the kids?}