Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Workboxes and Homeschool Tracker

We started using workboxes at the end of last year. It made the end of the year easier, but I was still working out the exact logistics of filling the boxes each day. I've spent some time working on the process this year and feel that I have finally figured out a streamlined method that combines the workbox concept with my use of Homeschool Tracker Plus.

I began using HST+ last year and really love it. It does have a steep learning curve, but it is a wonderful product. As a bonus, I have found it to be a great help when setting up the workboxes.

First, I thought I would show our workboxes. These are Robert's, filled for today (and for the week, but more about that in a minute). You can click on any of these pictures for a larger image.

This is a copy of the assignments for box 7. It is the "assignment calendar" report from HST. I print off a week's worth of assignments at a time. I have to run a separate report for each box in order to get the dates across the top. This is the most time-consuming part of this process, but I feel it really pays off in the end because I'm not filling boxes or writing up assignments daily.

You have probably noticed that it is only half of a sheet of paper. Once I am halfway through the printing, I turn the paper over and reuse it in the printer. This conserves paper. I also color code the kids' assignment sheets (Robert - orange, Ruth - blue) and write the number of the box on them. This makes it easy to put them back in the correct box if they get separated (not that my kids would ever be so careless as to lose something... ahem).

This is a picture of the first box. This is the box with his TOG history readings. There are several books and they would not fit in the box, so I have them stacked elsewhere in the room. This is also helpful because Robert and Ruth share the books. I also put all of the papers needed for the week in the box. So, this box contains all of the History Scribe notebook pages we are using for the week. The math box contains all of the math worksheets for the week. I do this for as many subjects as possible.

I prefer to staple the pages together (that losing papers thing again), but I have them turn in work as finished, so I will only staple pages together if I'm not worried about the condition of the pages. I don't keep math worksheets long-term, so I don't mind if the corner is a little torn. I do keep notebook pages, so those are not stapled together.

I recently created a chart for my purposes. I wanted to see at a glance which boxes are being used on which day. Also, some boxes rotate subjects during the week. It's helpful for me to know, for example, that art is assigned on Tuesday, so I will remember to put the time aside to do that together. (This is not a typical week since Monday was a holiday. That's changed up our schedule for the week, which is another advantage of using this chart).

I put the chart in a page protector and use a wet-erase marker to mark the week's box assignments. I keep the page in my planning notebook and re-use it each week. I use abbreviations for the subjects, so if you have any specific questions about which subjects are in which boxes, let me know in the comment section. If there is interest, I'll do a separate post on that. UPDATE: See here to download a pdf of this chart (blank).

We also use the schedule strips, so this makes it easy for me to quickly see which boxes are and are not being used each day. (These are Ruth's schedule strips.)

We all love the workboxes, but I've heard many moms say that the time it takes to fill the boxes each day is burdensome. I hope that I've shown you a method that can make the process easier and allow you to get the full benefit of the workboxes with minimal work on your part.

(Disclaimer: I (and my kids!) love workboxes. However, they are not for everyone. If you have a system that works, for goodness sake, don't feel you need to change it!)