School starts again tomorrow!
I’m filled with a lot of excitement and just a little trepidation now that we’ve got a year of homeschooling under our belts. It was a great year full of projects, math pages, reading and field trips. But working on my growing business along with homeschooling burned me out by May. I felt like there was never enough time in the day and developed a constant stress level that exhausted me. So after school, we took our long summer trip to recoup, unwind, and enjoy family free-time.
And now I’m excited again and ready to start the new school year. I’ve got a plan to help de-stress my day to day schedule too so this year shouldn’t be as taxing on me as last year ended up being. One thing that I’m carrying over from last year though is my schoolwork organization.
Workboxes and lesson plans!
I’m a planner. I need to be because I get forgetful when life gets busy and a schedule helps me get the important things done. I did a lot of research before school last year when I was trying to figure out our homeschooling style. One site that helped me immensely was Confessions of a Homeschooler. Erica’s site is full of great resources, ideas, and downloads. I learned about workboxes from her site and they’ve been a huge success for us.
Initially created by Sue Patrick, this system uses a set of drawers or bins per child that each school subject is put into. Yes, it’s a little more work each night (or morning before school) to put the papers, notebooks and manipulatives the kiddos might need the next day, but it is such a blessing the next day. It cuts out any whining about “how much more work is there?” and “how much longer until . . . ” because they can see for themselves exactly how much they have left! It lets the boys be more responsible for themselves and gives them a sense of accomplishment each day to see the drawers emptying and the “finished” stack grow larger.
Here is a picture of our workboxes:
They’re pretty simple shelving units that I put in the closet of our schoolroom. After our morning calendar time, my boys know to go to their first drawer and get their work. When it’s done, they pile it on the top and go on to the next subject in the next drawer. You can even build in snack time, reading time, and computer time by using a chart that they fill throughout each day. Using little numbers with velcro backing, I attach them to the drawers when I fill them. As the boys finish a drawer, they pull the number off and put it on the grid. I have little cards with velcro that say different things but by far, their favorite is “Snack”. It usually ends up between 3 & 4 or 4 & 5. When they get to that one, it’s their snack and reading time. Then back to the workboxes!
Confessions of a Homeschooler has free downloads of these little cards that you can laminate (or not) and stick velcro to for your workboxes and for the chart.
Along with this schoolwork organization, another big helper for me is lesson planning. I try to plan about 4 weeks at a time. Life gets busy and I just don’t have the time to sit down weekly to lesson plan but I can usually find one Sunday afternoon a month to get it done. It takes a little more time in that one sitting to get it all figured out but it frees up the rest of the month to work on other things. Here are the lesson plans for Week 1 for both my 1st grader and 3rd grader:
It looks involved but it’s really not bad. A lot of things don’t need specific planning – like the workbooks that they just move on to the next lesson in every day. There are certain subjects that have different needs though like history, science, geography, art, and music. I just copy over my weekly lessons to the next week and then change those subjects that need it.
This is the system that really works for us. Have you tried workboxes? What do you think? What system has worked for you and your family?