Last year, when Emma turned 3 (in May), we started having a daily preschool time. I was inspired by awesome bloggers who are teaching their preschoolers at home and blogging their journey, and even sharing free printables for preschoolers!
So I searched, I printed, I laminated, I got excited about getting started. But I really had no good system for getting started. I tried making daily schedules ahead of time, but it was so time-consuming… WAY too time-consuming for a mom with a new baby.
I pushed on. We had fun, but everything was scattered and I had no idea where anything was or what I wanted to do that day. I just grabbed things out of my very messy school drawers and let Emma do what she wanted. And you know, that worked fine then, because Emma was just learning about school and didn’t have much of an attention span anyway.
Fast-forward to a couple weeks ago. I came across a post (that I cannot find now for the life of me) that introduced me to the workbox system. Different homeschoolers do different things with it, but basically you have separate “workboxes” (these can be any kind of container, drawers, or even file folders) with your school day separated either by time or subject. I love the idea! Which, apparently, is the genius of Sue Patrick (more details on how it works at that link).
So I immediately went out and bought two sets of 3-drawer storage containers. They are perfect for what I want to do. Next I printed out some cute Finding Nemo themed number labels for the drawers. I decided to label them numerically rather than by subject because I thought this would be easiest for Emma – she starts with drawer 1 and then moves on to the next and the next every morning. Here’s what it looks like:
Now comes the fun part. Every evening after Emma goes to bed, I put the next day’s activities into each drawer. This has made things SO easy for me. I don’t have to overplan or spend too much time writing out schedules! I just figure out what I want us to focus on that week, put all the worksheets and activities in one place, and stick a little of everything in a drawer. Voila – instant organization and peace of mind for mommy!
This also encourages independent working, something I am really liking. Emma can be a little overdramatic and tends to want me at her side every minute, but this way I can encourage her to do things on her own. If she is having trouble with something, she can put it back in the drawer and move on to the next drawer number.
Something I didn’t do yet but is a great idea is stick Velcro stickies on the back of the labels and the drawers. You can make a schedule card for your child and let them stick the number number labels as they complete the boxes onto their card – that way they can see their progress as they’re going. I don’t really need to do that with Emma quite yet, but it’s something I can do in the future.
Another great thing about this system is that everything is at Emma’s fingertips throughout the day so she pretty much works on her “school” all day long. She pulls out her dry-erase handwriting practice book when she gets bored and loves it. I think I must be lucky in this way, because she really really enjoys doing school and is already learning to sound words out because she is so motivated to learn to write and read.
Let me share a sample day’s workbox activities with you:
Box 1: We start with Bible and verse memorization. Emma is memorizing Psalm 1 (she’s already memorized it up to verse 4!) and I’m going through Beth Moore’s “A Heart Like His” (a study of David – I HIGHLY recommend anything by Beth Moore!).
Box 2: Emma gets a short reading lesson – I’m using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with much success!
Box 3: Handwriting practice with a dry-erase book and marker. I LOVE doing it this way, and so does Emma! She can do this independently.
Box 4: A book of my choosing and counting practice with colored bears. There’s also another dry-erase pre-writing book there – practice tracing lines and curves, that kind of thing.
Box 5: I put random worksheets I’ve found online or from Emma’s Gakken Workbooks here.
Box 6: This one has a jump rope, lacing toy, and her ABCMouse.com logo card indicating she can have some computer time (we’re trying ABCMouse.com for free for 14 days right now and really liking it!).
Depending on the day, I mix things up a bit, like I might have the computer time in the middle box, or we might only do three boxes a couple days a week so we don’t get overwhelmed.
I’m looking forward to the coming weeks now that we’ve had a first great week using this system!
I would love to hear your experience using workboxes with preschoolers! If you’ve never used them before, what is your system?
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