Thursday, March 11, 2010

Homeschooling in a small house ~ part 4 ~ Organizing daily work

Chances are if you are a homeschooler, you have heard of the workbox system.  Oh, the workbox system makes my organization loving heart go pitter patter.  However, since it uses stacked organization drawers (12 for each child),  it is really not a good fit for our family. 

Since we have four children doing school and a small house, I needed our work system to be space efficient.  My first thought was to use manilla folders because I was trying to use what I had in my home.  However, 12 folders (Sue Patrick, originator of the workbox system, uses 12 boxes per student)…well, 12 folders were a bit cumbersome for my children.  Not to mention, they could not finish all 12 folders everyday.  (Some folders contain learning activities/games and not just seat work.)

So I made the switch to pocket folders.  I used 3 folders for a total of six pockets.  I filled the pockets with work and the children would complete them.  The kids could much more easily finish the work but they still had trouble with the folders.  I needed something that was easy for all of us!


Now, before I explain what we do, let me say that I have five children & a busy life and I need this system to be easy and quick.  So my system is not pretty & cutesy.  It is practical and usable.  That’s pretty much how I evaluate everything I do and/or buy:  is it practical and usable?  (Though don’t get me wrong…I definitely like pretty & cute.  ;0)

I decided to use two pocket folders and I labeled them.  One is labeled: Morning Work and the other is labeled: Afternoon Work.   Morning work is work that can be done independently or with as little help as possible from Mom.  During the morning time, I am working with the little ones, teaching phonics & reading, and doing easy household chores in between that ie changing over laundry, cooking lunch, etc.  I need my older children to be able to work independently during this time.  Also, one of my goals for my children is for them to be self learners.  But that’s another blog post.

DSCN1506 The above picture shows the morning work for my 6th grade son.  He had handwriting, Dailygrams, reading vocabulary, and a self teaching writing/English assignment.  Not pictured is his math.  We use Teaching Textbooks and it is written as an interactive computer program that teaches math.  I use this program once my children understand the basics of math.  I also sometimes include a math drill practice page and Bible verses to be looked up for his Bible Drill class.  

Another difference I have for the original system is that my children do not remove tags and place them on a chart to show that they have completed their work.  Honestly, that is one more thing I have to do and keep up with so I don’t do it.  However, I do want them to “do” something to receive that sense of accomplishment from finishing their work.  So I simply have them place their completed work into a basket that I have sitting on a shelf.  I know that the work has been done when I check the folder.  And I don’t have to replace anything or keep up with anything extra.  :0)

DSCN1508 The above picture shows the afternoon folder.  These are learning activities that require more input from mom.  They also coincide with naptime for the little ones.  We usually begin this folder after lunch and after the reading of our literature selection.  In my 6th grader’s folder above, you can see part of his history lesson.  On the other side is his spelling

Most weeks, my older children are also working on a lapbook.  They do most of this work independently if they finish early or in the afternoons. This particular week, they were working on a lapbook about the Olympics (pictured on the left).  Also pictured is the text for our Math program.


At the completion of all work, they place their work into our completed work box.  Empty folders are place in his or her work basket in the hall. 

DSCN1465 Empty folders go into the child’s basket.  Blue for the boys and pink for the girls.  Also, each child has his or her own color for the folders so we don’t get mixed up with our sibling.

DSCN1504 At the end of the day, I refill the folders with work for the next day.  I place them on our school table for the beginning of our new school day. 

So there’s our work folder system.  It is really plain jane but it honestly has been the best organizational tool for us this school year! 

~To read my other Homeschooling in a small house posts, please visit these links. ~

Part 1 – Finding the space & how to use it

Part 2  - Updated pictures of part 1

Part 3 – Using and storing visual aids


  1. Hi Adriane, I just wanted to say I REALLY enjoyed this homeschooling in a small house series that you've been doing (although I haven't been regularly commenting, I have been reading!)... you are full of inspiration for others who live in small homes. It's made it seem actually possible to do this in our small home too and I've appreciated your creative solutions! Thanks for sharing this with all of us!

  2. Thank you Nicole. I am actually in the process of revamping it a bit. I'm trying to come up with some "fun" workbox activities and the storage for that. And I'm trying to stream line it all. It really is a work in progress. I can say that one thing I have learned from homeschooling is how to be flexible!


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