Workboxes are the new fad of organizing schoolwork for homeschoolers and I am soooo excited that I came accross it.  This fantastic idea is a new way of organizing school work and school day.  It is the brainchild of Sue Patrick.  She has a book available that explains the entire system and why it works, but of course I’m too cheap for that and just used the WWW to glean off of everyone else.  I’ll have to include some links at the end to other blogs with different versions of this system. 

Basically the system uses 12 boxes to, in a sense, divy up your child’s daily work.  By using this system people have said they are able to accomplish a ton more work than they were able to without it.  Some said that they had time for more of the fun extra stuff because they were able to fill up the twelve boxes with the “meat” of their day and the fun stuff too. 

I searched high and low for different ideas because I knew that the “box” system would not work for our family because of space issues and for the fact that I already have a system of organizing our work that follows ideas from Susan Wise Bauer in the “Well Trained Mind.”  We organize by using binders.  I also have two shelves for each child to keep their books on.  We use magazine holders to store the books in and place them on the shelf  backwards so it has a nice visual appeal. 

I didn’t want to change what we were doing completely, but I did see imense value in altering Sue Patrick’s origional idea to fit our needs.  Any idea that helps organize a homeschooling family is worth it’s value in gold, as far as I’m concerned. 

I’ll tell you that my most favorite way to organize the workboxes is using the trofast system from Ikea.  We don’t have the space or the money at this time to use that system, but if I could I would have gone right out and bought it.  It looks like a fantasticly clean and neat way to keep the system working smoothly. 

Although I liked the “box” way of using the system, I continued to search the posts from different groups that I am on in hopes of finding a system that would work for us.  I came accross one Ruby slippers homeschool (link below) that used plastic file containers with hanging file folders to store the child’s work.  I looked at it and read some posts on a board and discovered where to go to buy what I needed.  So, I went right out to Walmart and bought three of them.  I bought velcro dots, hanging files, expandable hanging files ( on clearance), laminate,  and a few other items that I needed to make them look fun and enticing for the kids.

Here is what I came up with.  Not the best picture for an idea, but I’ll try to get a close up of them later.

I had made three boxes for my school aged children and then CP saw them and asked, “where my box?”  So, I went to work and made him one too.  He’ll just have some fun manipulatives and letter recognition activities in his box.  Maybe some shaving cream and play-dough too.  Lots of fun preschool activities to do.  Not sure how I will use it with him yet, but he was excited about carrying it around the house for a few days.  LOL

I made the numbers on each of the kids’ boxes different.  I asked them what they wanted and came up with themes that expressed what they liked.  I really enjoyed making them.  I used lots of laminating pages.  As I said already, I really enjoyed putting them together. 

All the kids were excited to see how they were going to use these for school.  I had given the kids two weeks off and they were ready to get back into the swing of things when they saw how much fun I was having making them.  They had three weeks off and then we did “school” for three days during the fourth week and will hit and miss throughout our summer so their heads don’t completely forget all they learned last year.

I only put five items in each of their boxes and they loved it.  Even my eleven year old son said, “this is cool mom.”  They liked the visual of the system.  Each child had a notebook/portfolio with their schedule typed up so when they completed a subject they stamped it.  This worked well for awhile, but I think the box system will be better because I can fill them with 12 things and not feel bad because some will be work and some will be fun.  Then each child will know that when the 12 numbers are placed on the front of their box they are done for the day. What a nice feeling I think they will be left with.  A sense of accomplishment and a better charge over their day.  The whole idea is to get them motivated and excited about getting their work done.  There is a lot they can manage themselves and I think this system will help each child claim more responsibility over their daily work. 

I did see some of this when I gave them just the three days of work.  Mostly a worksheet in four  pockets or a math manipulative I put a card with practice music too.  Nothing too taxing.  I put Sudoku books in one of each of the boys’ pockets.  I didn’t even have to nag.  They knew that the fun afternoon of free time would not start until all cards were on the front of their box and their chores were completed.  What a nice thing for me too.  I just have to look from a distance and can tell how much they have each accomplished.

One bug that I will have to work out in the fall when we start science and a few other subjects that more than one child works on together is how to time it so we can do the subject together. 

Other Blogs with workbox pictures:

Our Busy Homeschool

A Mothers Journal

Ruby Slippers School

Hilltop Homeschool


There is also a yahoo group called workboxes  go to www.yahoogroups.comand search for the group titled workboxes.  I think there is another one that just started too. 

I would love to hear how you are using this system and new ideas that could help me with mine.  Thanks!!!


6 Responses

  1. Thanks. This looks great and very similar to what we are going to start using. I’m glad to hear that the whole system can be modified to fit our needs and still work great for the kids.

    • I think that is the icing on the cake – the versitility of the whole system. And I second the “great for the kids” statement!

  2. Hi, I’m interested in your organizing system. Did you consider sticking with 12 magazine holders on the bookshelf for the 12 boxes? What ages are the children you are working with? I’m trying to figure out how to adapt the workbox system for my 6th grade twins. Do you think they are too old for this system?


    • To be honest, I thought it would be too old for my almost 12 year old son, but he loves it. I think he is so glad that he can see what needs to be done and not have to worry about mom sneaking in extra work that he never thought about it being too juvenile.

      My kids are 11, 9, 7, and 3. They will all have birthdays in the next few months.

      I don’t have 12 magazine holders with each subject. I am using the magazine holders to hold the books that I need to pull work from or that they use for reading in each subject. The workbox system and my magazine/binder system are working in tandem. The three older kids have two shelves each. The other four cubbies are for all the extra subjects that we use as a family or they don’t have room for on their shelf.

      Our system is still a work in progress, but I’m happy with how we’ve started. I will tweak it I’m sure as time progresses. Hope you find a way that works well for your kids.

      • Oh, and the reason I didn’t stick with 12 magazine holders on the shelves was because there isn’t room. I didn’t want to change the two cubbies for each child. Although, 12 magazine boxes would make sense, but then I would have to find another place to store all of their school books when they are not in their workbox.

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