Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Workboxes, Week 1

Well, we’re almost through our first week with workboxes. We’ve actually completed all of the boxes every day so far (though I did change ‘health’ to ‘chores’ yesterday – kinda cheating, I know, but I was ready for school to be done).

I haven’t decided exactly how I feel about them yet. I’m thinking that we’ll give it another week and see how it goes. I am almost sure that the actual ‘box’ part is just adding an extra/unnecessary step; I’ve seen several versions of workboxing mods that use a single box or bin with manilla mailing envelopes to hold the work, and others that use hanging files, covered cereal boxes, and lots of other methods. Since we’re so limited on space, I am wondering if something like that might be better.

I am also going to have to figure out something else to do with the ‘done’ cards or tags… the process we have now feels like a bunch of extra steps that might be eliminated. I saw several people using velcro dots on the fronts of boxes (or on a sheet of paper inside the front of the box) to hold all the tags; I’m thinking that I might want to try that instead. I do like the chore cards though, so I may play around with that and see if I can come up with a better way to manage them. We have a chore chart in the hallway that I made months ago; we may go back to that style for a while.

Overall, I’m not sold on the system for us, but there are some things I like about it, so I’m not ready to scrap it just yet. I thought I’d do a pros and cons list this week and then re-evaluate next week. In the interests of disclosure, I will say that I have not read Sue Patrick’s book (creator of the workbox system), or attended any kind of lecture or class on them. I’ve just been reading about them since last year and checking out all the different mods and tweaks that I’ve seen in blogs and put my system together from what I’ve read. That may very well do Ms. Patrick a huge disservice, so please take my two cents on the matter with a spoonful of salt. {wink}  I like the idea of the workboxes system. Ideally, it seems like allowing the kids to be completely responsible for their work makes me happy. I just don’t know how that will work out practically speaking with my kids.


  • I like that having a weeks worth of plans laid out in advance helps me see where things are missing; I’m planning better and even though it’s still taking a while, the day is well-rounded.
  • I like that I can also see where I am harping on ‘work’ and not adding in enough ‘fun’ stuff; workboxing it helps me make sure to include fun stuff at even intervals during the day.
  • I like that everything is done the night before; I can just say “okay, time for school” and they’re set.
  • We’re getting a CRAPLOAD of stuff done! I am impressed with the number of completed assignments that they’re turning in every day.
But of course, all this can be done without workboxing it.
  • it takes up a lot of space – the whole time; from storing packed boxes, to while they’re working on an open box, to boxes they’re saving for homework and boxes that they’ve completed. I’ve got boxes everywhere.
  • the packing process takes a long time – not so long that it’s prohibitive, but long enough that I can see myself getting bored with it in the near future. I’ll want to pack them, but slack, then feel stressed about it in the morning.
  • it’s not saving us ANY time. My kids still dawdle. The only benefit here is that I can say, “Okay, time’s up. Pack your things back into the box and set it on the side of your desk. That’s homework.” But then I still have to oversee homework. Le sigh.
  • Even though we have the shoe-box sized bins, they’re still not big enough to hold workbooks or larger materials. Even their journals and notebooks get curved into the bottoms of the boxes.
  • I’m also concerned about long-term wear and tear on the boxes, themselves. They’re dollar-store boxes, but that was still $24 on box. If I upgraded to heavier boxes or wider ones, that will be an even bigger expense.
So that’s where we’re at now. Again, SO IMPRESSED with the sheer number of completed assignments that they’re turning in. With better time-management, I think that this might be a good system – time will tell, though. If you’re a workboxer, I’d love a link to your blog or other sites you’ve found helpful in modifying workboxes, thinking of fun stuff to put in them… anything workbox related, really. I made a Pinterest board for my workbox bookmarks and it’s sadly lacking.
If you’ve been reading here and wondering about our progress this week, we have had a much go of it than we started off with. Tuesday was great – we met our homeschool group for our 2nd Annual ‘Not Back to School Brunch’ at the park, and managed to get all of the boxes for the day completed before dinner time. Wednesday, we were home and had a heavier workload, but still… it was a good and productive day. Today, we had errands planned, so they got their morning boxes finished, took some work with us to do on-the-go and have finished in time to hit the pool before dinner.
Hope your week is winding down into a relaxing weekend!
P.S. If you’re looking for an NVC update post this week, I think we’re going to work on chapter 3 again next week. The chapter is on separating ‘observation’ and ‘evaluation’ and I am having a hard time with it.

5 responses

  1. Gallon-sized ziplock baggies are good. If you are limited on space, you can hang a string either on a wall, across a window, or anywhere you have room (you can have several strings if you want, possibly one for each child). Use clothes pins to hang them from the string. I think you are making it a little too complicated, but you do have some great ideas. I used this baggie method for activities to do when the kids are finished – folder games, word searches and crossword puzzles, and other review games that went with skills the kids were learning.

    August 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm

  2. I started a simple preschool curriculum with my daughter this month, and have bookmarked links like crazy. I was homeschooled for a number of years when I was younger, and I know other homeschooling mothers, so this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.

    The idea of workboxes immediately struck a chord with me – probably because I love to be organized! With my kiddos (almost 4 and 2), I’m using trays to contain their crafts/activities (got the idea here:

    I don’t feel like buying all the materials it would take to set up a workbox system, but I love to see how other people have implemented the same idea. Here’s a link where people have submitted posts with their workboxes (, and I kind of like this space-saving technique using hanging pocket files (

    I tend to put a lot of thought into what I’ll be doing the next week, and I do find it a bit labor-intensive and exhausting trying to plan what I’m going to do on certain days… but that might just be because my kids are still little and I don’t know what their attention spans will be like for a given activity.

    I made a simple chore chart for my daughter using a template from Homeschool Creations, which you have on your Pinterest. I put velcro on the front and back, so she can flip it when a chore is completed (I put a star sticker on the reverse side so it’s not just blank).

    Anyhoo – good luck!

    August 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

  3. Definitely hear you on the pros and cons. We used ours last year and I need to get moving on them for this year. Here’s our portable workboxes, if you want to add them to your Pinterest:

    We also did a chore chart system last year, but I need to update it now that my kids are a year older. It’s here:

    August 26, 2011 at 11:03 am

  4. Pingback: Meditation with Kids – Mind Jar « This Adventure Life

  5. Pingback: From Deschooling to Home’s Cooling | Lubrarian Approved

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