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In case you are wondering about workboxes for older kids...


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First, let me clarify. I do not use workboxes to their full extent as described by those who have read the book, etc. However, I was intrigued last year when I saw all the posts and looked into it on the websites and forum posts. I decided to try a simplified, modified version for middle dc (ds) who was starting 6th grade. I used a set of ten rolling drawers that you can purchase at Sam's, Office Depot, etc. Every night I fill his drawers; however, here are some differences from the original recommendation:

 

I sometimes put more than one thing in a drawer. He simply has too many things for just ten drawers.

 

Since he is older I will often put the whole week's assignments on a post-it note on the front of a book with a place for him to checkmark.

 

I use notecards for some subjects. For example, he does TeachingTextbooks and LOF for math so on a notecard I will list each day's assignment like this:

________ Tuesday, 9/14 TT12

 

________Wednesday, 9/15 Life of Fred 3

 

________Thursday, 9/16 TT13

 

An entire week will be listed and the notecard put in a drawer.

 

For Rosetta Stone I have a sheet for him to record his time. The sheet is kept in a drawer.

 

If there are library books about his history study that day that I want him to read I put them in a drawer...sometimes the same drawer, sometimes put with other stuff.

 

Many things (like Rosetta and TT) I know I can go to the computer to see that he did them (and I do check) but having the lists, notecard, etc. in a drawer helps HIM to see what he needs to do.

 

If there are chores for him to do that day (besides the regular ones) I put them on a notecard and throw them in a drawer.

 

He can complete his drawers in any order

 

All his work, books, papers go back in the drawer they came from. At night I change them out (or leave them if they are used again the next day.)

 

So...this year we started school on a Thursday. I decided that I wouldn't use the drawers the first two days and would just work with him closely so we could talk about each book, assignments, expectations. Bonding. That was the worst decision I made so far this school year. What I hadn't realized (and ds has no learning disabilities, good student, but normal 12 year old boy who would rather be out fishing than inside doing school no matter how fun you make it) is how well that method really worked for him! He likes seeing what he has to do in advance to finish his work. He likes the independence and choice of ordering his day. When he would say, "How much longer til we are done?" I was insulted and then he was overwhelmed when I would say, "I don't know exactly." It was a bad first day. So...Thursday night I somewhat disappointedly filled his workboxes as I had done last year. Friday morning he got up, no complaints, completed all his work, and my disappointment turned into relief and a light bulb at realizing what a difference this made. This is the same kid whose room used to be an absolute disaster on a daily basis until one week when he helped me repaint and redecorate his room with a hunter's theme and he loved the orderliness (even though it had certainly been clean before) and new decorations so much that for over 2 years his room has remained spotless and I have never had to tell him to clean it once. Not.one.time.

 

I should say that before this we weren't exactly too far off from this method as his work was on shelves and I would often give him a list. But something about the individual drawers made his day completely different.

 

At times I have wondered if putting his work in drawers will actually make him less independent but with the advance assignments on some subjects it is no different than getting college assignments. I have simply given him an organized, compartmentalized way to see his work. Who knows? Maybe he'll choose to keep his college work in drawers! :) Come to think of it...I like drawers, too! :) For younger kids obviously this method is TOO independent but I am doing a similar, much more guided approach with the youngest (K) although I still don't use drawer labels, etc. as the original plan recommended.

 

So...in case anyone is looking for a way to organize and give more independence to older learners while still tracking and being involved...this method has worked wonders for us and might be worth a try.

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My 5th grader loves it, too, although I attach her weekly list to the front of a file box and fill the box with everything she'll need that week. She loves the clarity of what's expected of her. My 3rd grade dd uses the same method and does very well. Last year I loaded each day and used tags. This way is far less work for me. They check boxes on their lists when they complete an assignment.

 

My first grader does better with the original concept of workboxes.

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I started this with ds when he was 12 or 13. He was so happy. I do see him with the drawers in college too. lol Good idea about the chores. I'm going to add in a card for chores , music practice, thank you notes, etc. He's starting highschool so we have time to work from this system to him organizing his own by college.

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