Saving My Sanity: The Workbox

The big struggle for most homeschoolers is how do you get it all done. What can I do to streamline laundry, meal preperation, cleaning the toliets…

Eventually this streamlining trickles over into how can I streamline school and teaching for my little ones?

Translation: How can we be Super Mom?

Let me introduce you to my friend Sue Patrick. If you have been in the homeschooling world for any length of time, chances are that you have heard at least one person in your circle mention Sue and workboxes. This is streamlineing at it’s best. When trying to find ways to engage her Autistic son to complete his school work and have structure in his day, Sue developed a system using a free standing shoe rack, shoe box size tubsVelcro dots and a laminator.  She has even written a book explaining her method.


Now, while I do not have an Autistic child, I soon realized that this would greatly benifit my daughter.  I hoped that it would allow for me to be able to say goodbye to all of the belly-aching, throwing herself over the seat of kitchen chair, and the whinning that ensues inevitably every day at 10:11 AM. With a visual/kinesthetic learner, this has become my saving grace.  With this Workbox System, my daughter is able to visually see all of her school work laid out in front of her for the entire day.

Due to space constraints, we do not use the Workbox System as laid out by Sue in her book— a large free standing shoe rack with individual shoe box tubs for each subject. Instead, we use a small storage file box

and expandable file folders.

To the outside front of the box I attached two adhesive backed velcro dots to hold the schedule grid

The schedule grid is nothing more than a 3 column, 4 row empty square grid that has been laminated. Our schedule grid is only for the subjects to be completed. I did not include spaces for breaks, lunch, or free time. Sue, however, does.

(My daughter took delight in being able to decorate her grid and personalize her box.  Can you tell princesses are a favorite around here?)

Two opposite velcro dots were placed on the back of the grid to allow it to attach to the front of the file box.

Each square of the grid received it’s own velcro dot.

This allows for each square to have a laminated removable number tag, with the opposing velcro dot,

that can be placed onto an expandable file folder, with an additional velcro dot,

that holds one subject’s worth of work for the school day.

After completing the contents of the file folder, the adhered number is removed

and placed on the corresponding square on the schedule grid.  My daughter knows that once all of her file folders are empty, and the schedule grid is full, her school day is completed.

If there is any subject that requires my help, I simply adhere a “Help” tag to the folder– this signals to my daughter that it’s contents will require my assistance to complete the task.

Another gem taken from Sue is to actually check in and out of school. As homeschoolers, our homes are truly lived in, in every sense of the word– we live, work, school, and play here. To be able to visually see the transition of beginning school in the home has really helped my daughter to stay on task.

The Workbox System also helps to hold me accountable. I am required to fill each folder with the next day’s work every night. I have to have all of my school lesson planning accomplished for this system to be effective. I find that this is ensuring that I give my daughter the best education I can.

Using the Workbox System has also taught my daughter to be more independent. She is able to do more on her own, and truly think about and contemplate her studies. It also allows for me to be able to complete simple household tasks at the same time that school is taking place.

The file box also allows us to cart school where ever it needs to go. The car, library,  grandma’s, and the beach are just a few places our box has been.

Because of the workbox, there has been less moaning and tantrums…

Less belly aching….

But, am I Super Mom? Well, no, not yet, but I am one step closer…

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5 responses to “Saving My Sanity: The Workbox

  1. I really like this. Great adaptation of a system that looks like it makes everything easier. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that organization is everything when it comes to homeschooling. Glad you found something that helps you and works for your daughter!
    Love the princesses!

  2. Wow, really well done! Everything looks very well organized and it’s designed so artfully. I’m glad it’s working out so well for your family. Sounds like you are indeed approaching super-mom status!

  3. YOU ARE A SUPER MOM!!! and so amazing!!

  4. hi holly love your system , i feel the most unorganized mum in the world . just keep falling behind with my teaching because my material is never ready on time , well i don’t have the long terme picture of what i really want them to achieve maybe this is the problem , they are and 5 and i just feel as long as we are reading we are doing well . would like some words of advice also where did you get the pockets that you use for the checking to school cards ??
    thank yo for sharing

    • Viv, I found the pocket for checking in and out at our local dollar store.

      Don’t get discouraged! I bet this is only your 1st, maybe 2nd year HS, correct? It will take time to work out all of the kinks and find a teaching style that best suits you and your family’s needs. My advice, one that a veteran HS mom shared with me years ago, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”– and it’s true! I think I will be revisiting your comment and answering more fully in a blog post this week, so keep a lookout!

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