There is a new wave among homeschooling methods. Imagine that! It's come from Sue Patrick's Workbox System. I have not read her book, but I thought I ought to give credit where credit is due. (I have to say this idea is not a new one, as I used it with preschoolers in a classroom when I was 17.) I should also say that I know I'm not doing it like she suggest to do it. I'm doing the basic idea and have made it all work for us.
Here's how it works:
I fill these boxes with work for the day.
The top three are Mattie's... of course she doesn't have to do any of them, but she wants to "do school," so I indulge her! The bottom nine are Jacob's, but we've never gotten to that many and probably won't anytime soon. (I'll probably just switch to six and six and use Mattie's to switch up fun activities for her to notice as she walks by.) One of the benefits of Jacob's medicine has been that we can do stuff on such a deeper level, so it takes longer, but I'm still learning what is a good amount of stuff. He's also very careful about neatness, so that takes him longer now too. :)
After Jacob has completed whatever is in the box, he moves the box to this stack. (I think I'm actually going to put cards that say "FINISHED" on one end so he can just return the box with that end sticking out. It serves the same purpose without the awkwardness of a lopsided stack.)
In his boxes I put his essentials and just for fun things. I add in trampoline time and structured "play" that he might not otherwise choose. I put in a game to play with me or an activity to do with Mattie. And I choose activities that we never got to during a certain week, but that provide a great review two weeks late!
The purposes this system is serving in our home school:
*It provides Jacob with a very clear visual as to what is expected of him that day. He gets much less frustrated than when I say, "Now the next thing to do is..." Now there is no doubt when he is finished!
*It provides variety as I can switch up the order of his activities.
*It provides accountability for me as I need to fill them each night. (I have seen that 10 minutes of planning in the evening saves me much more time than that the next day.)
*It provides an opportunity for independence as Jacob can just go to the next activity without requiring me to tell him what is next.
*It provides a routine. Even though the boxes are full of different things or in a different order each day, the fact that his work is in the boxes is the same, and that works for him.
*It encourages me to add fun review by adding "just for fun" things to the boxes. They serve a purpose in my mind, but he doesn't see them that way.
*Because the boxes are three dimensional, it challenges me to include three dimensional learning opportunities. (It's not workbook stuff of which we do too much, just hands on stuff of which we don't do enough.)
Three ways I've simplified it and made it work for us:
*In this basket I keep the things we use regularly. Because I'm such a visual person, I have to see it for reminders or I'll never think of using it! So I just flip through this basket to see what is a good fit for the following day and stick it in! In that magazine file to the right I keep pages I've printed to go with a unit or skill where he needs reinforcement. (Now I have upcoming units in manila files so it's a bit more organized. This also gives me a place to put things when I print them.)
*I have put index cards on the covers of the books we use most often, and I write his assignment on those cards. It saves him coming to me to ask more than several times what he is supposed to do, and gives him an item to cross off a list. He's all about crossing items off a list! (He comes by it honestly, I must say!)
I am so thankful we have finally gotten this off the ground here! I bought the shoe rack and shoeboxes right before we moved and knew I would be out of my mind to implement a new system then, but now that we're settled and he's medicated, it's perfect! :)