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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11 Responses to {Preschool With Emma} Our Workbox System ROCKS!

  • I am loving the workbox idea – just lacking the motivation to organize all of our stuff into two separate systems for my two preschoolers! One of these days (preferably before next fall when one child will be four and need some preschool). Thanks for a glimpse into your boxes!

  • Good job! That’s so much easier than what I did. That could be used all the way through, couldn’t it?

  • I love the workbox idea and might do this with Jaxon when he’s older. I saw a post on workboxes the other day at a-heartforhome.blogspot.com and was intrigued. It looks like fun and doesn’t seem too overwhelming.

    My older three are in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. I set our schedule at the beginning of the year and decide which days we’re doing school. Then I make daily lesson plans for each subject (I’m all planned out through the end of the year). I use a word document that I found online and modified for our use. It’s very much like a real schoolteacher would do. I am not creative and am not a cool homeschooler whose BIble lesson coordinates with the math lesson which ties in with the science lesson. We didn’t homeschool during preschool so I don’t have any input there. When I saw the post on workboxes the other day, I considered making some just to change things up for the kids a little, but I haven’t gotten around to going out and getting anything to be the “boxes.” Basically for me, since my planning is already done, I would just be putting their work into different boxes to break the day up for them a little bit.

    We use some worksheets from tlsbooks.com & abcteach.com that I like. I haven’t checked out their preschool stuff, but I like some of the elementary stuff, so they might have some stuff you like if you need more printables. Oh, and I love the Mead workbooks found at Wal-Mart. They have a cut & paste book called Snip It that the kids loved! I’m not sure Emma could handle all of the cutting alone, but the pasting is relatively easy and you could easily give her the sheet, the cut out shapes and a glue stick to work with. They also have dry erase books and writing books that have imprinted letters that help the kids learn to make letters correctly.

    • Thank you for sharing that, Brandi – I added those two sites to my list of resources. :) Gonna have to look into those Mead books, I know Emma would LOVE to cut and paste!

  • Way to go! :) So planned and perfectly laid out for the both of you! :) Great job Momma

  • I want to do this as well. I feel so disorganized much of the time and we just kind of fly by the seat of our pants it seems. LOL At 4 that’s great and fun but not at 6! So this is my goal for spring and summer! I hope you share more of your thoughts of ABC mouse. My child wants that. :-)

    • I’ll definitely be sharing more thoughts on how ABC Mouse is working for us. So far I like it a lot! It lets you focus on certain letters or subjects and you can make up “lessons” for them to follow or let them follow the lessons they make up. Emma loves the games!

  • I’m so glad you posted this! Since you did, I’ve gone through all of Gabe’s learning things and organizing! Going out to get some bins today!

  • I just bought those same drawers yesterday and plan to implement the workbox system this fall! We just finished up our first year of homeschooling with kindergarten. This fall my daughter will be doing some preschool work. I know the workboxes will be a life saver while I teach a first grader and preschooler! I also use “Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons”. We love it! I definitely recommend signing up for abcmouse.com too. My daughter plays it now and then and she can count to 20, recognizes some letters, knows all of her colors and shapes….the other day she told me the moon looked like a crescent! Right now I am thinking of if I want to purchase a curriculum for my preschooler. I may end up using “Letter of the Week” at http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/letter-of-the-week . Good luck to you!

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