"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."
Proverbs 24: 3 & 4
Welcome to my new obsession... An old idea explained in detail in Sue Patrick's Workbox System. Delightfully suited to homeschoolers of children in any age range! It's not a curriculum. It's is merely a way to organize our school day, keeping children on task & mom accountable.
Perhaps it's me (although after reading Sue's book and through more blogs on this new craze, I'm beginning to suspect it's not *just* me!). I have great curriculum. Each subject chosen on it's own merit and with each child in mind. I own more activities, books, craft supplies, and games than a non-homeschooler can imagine! Within these four walls, I have everything to make our school days fun, challenging, creative, complete. What I lack is the apparent ability to organize these things to easily incorporate them into our day.
What's a mama to do? Treasure boxes (or workboxes if you plan on Googling them)! The idea is delightfully simple. Each child has a rack of boxes. The mama fills them with as much as she wants each child to reasonably complete the next school day. After breakfast & morning chores are done, my children now "clock" in to school and set out to empty their rack.
A view of our boxes. We're schooling through the summer as no one is complaining yet and we're making good progress. Our days are lighter and we're taking more breaks so everyone is happy!
Schedule strips for each child. As with all things around here, each kiddo has a color (when possible). Rhys= blue. Kjersten= pink. Brennen= green. Cael= orange. This applies to towels, toothbrushes, cups, pencil boxes, etc... Anything I can coordinate this way, I do. I never wonder whose towel is on the bathroom floor, but I digress...
The schedule strips are set by the mama when she fills the treasure boxes. For instance, if you see Kjersten's strip above (pink, if you weren't paying attention in the previous paragraph!), you'll notice she has 1-3 and then a cute little computer picture. She is to do boxes 1, 2, & 3 and then she gets 15 minutes on the computer (http://tutpup.com/ is the current favorite). When her timer dings, she's on to box 4. Following that, she has 15 minutes of guitar before she continues with box #5.
She can look at her schedule strip and see what's next. She can look at her shelves and see how many boxes are left (as she completes the boxes, the box and the completed work go in a large bin). It's motivating for her to see fewer and fewer boxes as she works her way through...
Rhys' boxes- If it requires help from mom, there's a tab on the front (see box #7). For this day he has (in order) math, spelling review, Flashmaster, handwriting, library reading, homophone worksheet, new spelling, and a cribbage game with the mama!
Here's a peek at Brennen's. In order, he has stamping letters, library reading, math worksheet, small craft, maze worksheet, new spelling, and handwriting. Rest assured, his schedule strip included jumping on the trampoline, riding bikes, etc...
Even baby Cael has boxes holding puzzles, toys, coloring, etc...
With the boxes all laid out, my kids can see what their school day will include. The fun stuff (games, crafts, cooking projects, and so on) motivate them to get to the boxes that hold them. The dwindling number of boxes as they work through encourage them to keep going.
For me, the advantages are incredible. No more "Mom... I'm done with math. Now what?!" No more three kids needing help with spelling at the same time (there's power in determining the order of those boxes for each kid)!
We're still fine tuning our system and I'm constantly on the look out now for great treasure box activities. So... stay tuned for updates as we cruise into our "regular" school year this fall!
- Sue Patrick's web site
- Workbox Yahoo group (where I found the label "treasure boxes" that we love!)
- Workbox Fun Yahoo group
- and more blogs than I can list!