Sue Patrick’s Workbox System: Review

I have been reading and hearing about Sue Patrick’s Workbox System around the internet.  It’s gotten rave reviews as a system to organize and structure your child’s daily homeschool work.   “It promotes student independence.”  “(T)his is probably the best thing we have added to our homeschooling life!” “This is the best system ever!” “I finally have found a system that allows me to get to all the fun things that I tend to put aside.”  I read all this and more.  I thought that the concept was intriguing and thought that Sue Patrick’s System would help our family incorporate the fun activities that we often seem to skip in a typical homeschool day. When I found out that Sue Patrick creator of “the workbox system” was on the vendor list for the TOS Homeschool Crew I waited patiently for my opportunity to read the book and implement the system in our home.  My expectations were high.

The Workbox System was designed by Sue Patrick, who based it loosely on the structured teaching approach from TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children).  Her motivation in developing this approach was to help her young autistic son.  Her son was not high functioning, but is now academically on grade level and participates in team sports and other social activities.  She had amazing success with her system  and began sharing it with other families.  This began her 11 year process of improving and perfecting the system.  Mrs. Patrick says, “The children that it works best with is all children.”

The Workbox System:

Sue Patrick’s Workbox System is a way to organize each child’s school day with one of the main goals being independence.  Mrs. Patrick believes that “Many homeschoolers are plagued with independence issues.  Children become comfortably addicted to having mom sit next (to) them.”  She also believes that homeschool children talk too much, needing to “speak out-loud every thought that enters their mind.”  The system has tools built into it to  correct both of these issues.  Mrs. Patrick says, “Most children will be cured of the need for mom and too much talking within the first few days of using these tools.”

In addition to enabling the children to work through their school day with minimal input from mom, workboxes also strive to include diverse activities and allow children to visually see what they need to accomplish. This helps them to stay on track, be motivated to work quickly and ultimately helps them to accomplish more in less time.

There are two components to the Workbox System, a physical setup and an educational philosophy.

For the physical system you will need the following for each child:

  • a wire shoe rack like this one from Target.
  • about 12 clear plastic shoe boxes
  • numbered cards and schedule strips included with the workbox system
  • a correctly sized desk and chair

Each evening the child’s assignments are placed into the boxes along with everything he or she will need to complete the Sue Patrick's workbox systemassignment.  Then their day is scheduled using the numbered cards and schedule strips to visually guide the child through their day.  The cart and boxes are placed beside the child’s desk and as the child completes each box it is removed from the shelves.  The goal is to mix fun educational activities with more typical school work.

Each morning when the children are ready to begin their school work, they mentally and physically “clock into school” (much like an adult clocking in at work) and begin with workbox #1.  They then work through their school day independently until they reach a “work with mom” box, when the mom works with their child to complete the activity.  When they have finished all of their work boxes they are able to “clock out of school” and be finished for the day.

The educational philosophy includes fostering independence, lots of repetition and review, structure and a foundation of discipline.  Mrs. Patrick recommends using learning centers, file folder games, poster centers in addition to quizzes & tests to reinforce learning.

Sue Patrick’s Workbox System gives the parents ways to evaluate material and alter it to better fit their child’s educational needs.  She recommends breaking down the curriculum so that the child is not working on too many skills at one time.  She has parents accomplish this by re-writing / re-organizing work sheets, making your own worksheets or creating your own curriculum entirely.

How we used workboxes:

In this Facebook discussion, Mrs. Patrick stated that, “Any variation/alternative on using them (carts) only makes your job of putting together their day and the child’s day of learning more complicated and often less successful.”    So we bought the exact set-up that she recommends.  Our family dedicated ourselves to making workboxes work in our home for 3 weeks.  I had read so many wonderful things about workboxes.  Everything that I had read about workboxes had been uniformly positive.  From large families to small the unanimous decision had been “These are wonderful.”  I must be doing something wrong because it was not working for us, not working in a big way.

I was spending two or more hours each evening filling nearly 108 boxes!  During the day things went well, but not much differently from how our school days usually go.  I didn’t notice our children working through their assignments any quicker, but then that is not something that we were having problems with, we’ve always had a very structured school day.  I knew I must be doing something wrong.  I researched and asked questions and improved my time by a little, but was still spending nearly two hours preparing each evening.  This was two hours (or so) of gathering supplies and setting up and was in addition to the time that I regularly spend planning, photocopying, correcting work, etc.

Then someone gave me a link to this  interview of Sue Patrick on Facebook. In the interview someone asks how long it should take to set up workboxes.  Mrs.  Patrick replies that it takes less time for older students and more for younger.  She goes on to say,

Setting up school for middle school to high school can be as little as 10 minutes per child. Preschool through Elementary will vary incredibly…(b)ut generally it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes.

I’d found my answer.  According to Mrs. Patrick the minimum amount of time that I would spend setting up each evening, if I had all older children (which I don’t), would be one and a half hours.  I wasn’t doing anything wrong, this was just part of the program.

Raising Olives' workbox systemSo after 3 weeks of trying we came up with our own system, one that is completely unlike that advocated by Sue Patrick.  Our method enables us to accomplish our goal of regularly incorporating more fun activities and usually takes around 30 minutes to set-up each night.

Who I think Sue Patrick’s Workbox System may work for :

I think that for some families aspects of the workbox system may be useful and can improve  their homeschool.  Obviously for many it already has, just Google “workboxes”.

If you have a child with any variety of learning disabilities, I think workboxes are  something  to consider.  Workboxes can help your children remain focused on their schoolwork and work more independently.  All of my children enjoyed having the visual aspect of being able to see what fun things they would be doing during the day and thrived on racing through the workboxes.

Families whose school days seems to flounder or drag or those who want or desire more structure may also benefit from workboxes.  They can provide a solid visual structure.  Even if you get distracted, you can immediately see exactly where you left off and what needs to be done next.  It may help you and your children to be more focused on the task at hand.  They will also most likely help your family accomplish more in less time.

If you have a smaller family (I mean smaller than ours, I don’t mean small. 🙂 ) and desire to run your homeschool more like a classroom, then perhaps it would also be a good fit.  I like how it encouraged me to think through each of my children’s school day, placing an easier academic assignment after one that I knew would be a struggle for them.  It also makes it simple to add in all those fun things/curricula that you never used because you always forget.

I also think that a larger family that primarily uses textbooks and functions like a classroom could benefit from Sue Patrick’s system.

Bottom line, I think that Sue Patrick’s Workbox System, implemented as Sue Patrick suggests, brings the classroom into your home and allows mom to teach and manage effectively as a school teacher in that classroom setting.

Some comments on Sue Patrick’s educational philosophy:

Sue Patrick’s philosophy is not a good fit with our family.  Mrs. Patrick’ System works to encourage children to be independent from mom and dad.   Our goal is in opposition to that.  We wish to build strong relationships and we desire our children to come to us for advice because we want to instill our values into them.  We want to pour our lives into them and we wish to teach them what we have learned so that they can stand on our shoulders and achieve greater heights.  We accomplish this through sitting together and talking to one another during the course of our school.

American teens do not seem to have a problem with independence.  Teens are too independent from their parents.  Think about it. However, responsible independence is a huge issue.   Sue Patrick’s educational philosophy will foster independence, but not necessarily responsible independence.  The parent is deciding what the child should work on, when they should work on it and sometimes how long they should work on it and then giving it to the child in a form that is easily understandable.  The system laid out in the book does not involve requiring the children to make wise choices throughout their school day, it merely requires them to follow the instructions that have been prepared for them.

Don’t misunderstand.  We desire independence from our children, but we’ve found that our children have learned to be responsibly independent on their own without us forcing independence early.  For example, on days when I tell the children that we will not be getting up on schedule, the oldest 4 or 5 will read their Bibles, do their chores and begin their school work as soon as they do get up.  This without instruction or supervision from either mom or dad.  When I was very sick during the pregnancy with Nicholas, there were many times when one of the three oldest would come to me and say, “Mom it’s time to start dinner, we have xxx in the house.  May I use that to make xxx?”  Then they would carry through preparing a complete dinner for 10 people.  Responsible independence is our goal.  Independence without responsibility is the problem.

Another of Sue Patrick’s main goals is to discourage talking during school hours.  I was homeschooled as a child and one of the things that I remember and learned from  is standing in the kitchen during school time and discussing current events or something that I was reading with my mom and siblings.  I do not remember the workbooks so well as I remember those discussions.  I am constantly grateful for the open dialogue that I enjoyed with my parents to take that away from our children during school hours is not something that appeals to us in the least.

For these same reasons, we do a lot of group work and avoid busy work activities.  The majority of our school time is spent reading aloud, discussing what we are reading, using narration and working on projects together.  I believe that workboxes are more useful for independent, busy-type work or a homeschool that primarily uses text books.  Of course, you can use workboxes for any homeschool style.  The system is versatile, though you will not find suggestions for adapting the system in Mrs. Patrick’s book.

Sue Patrick’s Workbox System Users’ Guide e-Book is available for $19 and works for children preschool to highschool.

You can see all of my homeschool product reviews here.

I received a free copy of Sue Patrick’s Workbox System Users’ Guide e-Book in order to complete this review.  All ideas and opinions expressed are my own and I am not otherwise reimbursed for reviews.

This post is included in the Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup.

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38 Responses to Sue Patrick’s Workbox System: Review
  1. Anita Chamblee
    October 24, 2009 | 9:40 pm

    I was eagerly awaiting this review. I had read a little about this product and wanted to see if it would fit my family. I think I may do my own adaptation just for my 5 year old. I struggle to get his “schoolwork” in each day (I actually have the older ones doing a little each day with him) but this would help us to organize it better. The others are pretty independent, but we school very much like you where we are together reading and discussing most of the day. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks Anita. I didn’t put it in my post, but we are using a very loose adaptation with our preschoolers and they love it.

    [Reply]

  2. tara
    October 25, 2009 | 1:11 am

    OH YAAAYYYY!!!! I am so happy you reviewed this! I was wanting to see what someone with many children had to say about it! I love the idea! I think it would work for us. but let me ask you, do you have a creative solution on how to make it work with all the kiddos??? Could I use a portable file box with hanging file folders to save space??? Or does it have to be a box??? I am so eager to hear what you think! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    mindy Reply:

    Tara, I am using a file folder version and it has worked really well for us. I know a number of others online are doing this version, too. You can see a couple pics of our boxes here: http://schoolofnoodles.blogspot.com/search/label/workboxes Hope that helps!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    That is one version that I didn’t try, but I can see how it would work. Thanks for the link.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    I think that there are several options that would work depending on your set-up, curriculum choices and family preferences. We experimented and thought about this for a long while before we found a system that would work for us. We tried the system described in this post, but I found that it was harder to fill these envelopes and keep things straight than it was working with a hundred boxes.

    My plan is to post about my system and how it works. It works well for us and our children love it, so I’m excited to share.

    [Reply]

  3. Julie
    October 25, 2009 | 7:47 am

    Thank you for taking the time to post such a detailed review. I think this may really help us and I’m planning to devote some time this week to “studying” your review.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    If you have any questions feel free to email or call.

    [Reply]

    Julie Reply:

    I have finally taken the time to thoroughly read the review. I now see that it may not be at all what we need. The additional planning time at night is not desirable and we are also doing lots of read aloud together (and the girls share materials in some subjects). The initial appeal is that my girls are not developing the character trait of responsible independence, as yours seem to be. They are super helpful and capable, but wait to be asked/directed. I really think a checklist of things they do daily (copywork, Bible reading, practice piano, read two chapters from your novel and write a summary paragraph) with clear cut consequences for not accomplishing each task by a certain time would serve our purposes. Thanks again for the amount of effort you put into the trial and review!

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  4. Tracy
    October 25, 2009 | 3:37 pm

    I have been waiting for your review of this too:)

    I have a smaller family, a 4.5 yo boy and an 14 month girl. I implemented the system based on what I read on people’s blogs trying to save $19.00. Things were dragging with the system that way and my husband urged me to buy the book. I am glad I did, some of the variations I had found online where slowing us down. Now it is working well, and for my little guy I can’t imagine doing school another day. He loves the variety of each day and is motivated by the fun activities following difficult ones. He also loves clocking in and out:) My learning/teaching style (I taught for 9 years) would be much more routine, when I did that with him things ran much less smoothly.

    Anyhoo 🙂 I was excited to see how this worked for your family. I have read many of your posts about Multi-Level homeschooling and love your approach. I think when we move to more of a multi-level approach I think the system would need some tweaking. I also want an interactive homeschool.

    I saw in one place that they kept the work strip and only had 5 or 6 workboxes for each child. After beginning together as a group,the regular subjects they do independently each day could be squares of the work strip, then the work boxes, centers, posters, etc. could be placed on the work strip. I was sceptical about the posters and centers, but now I am a big fan. My active little guy needs to move and he thinks they are fun games.

    Thanks so much for your review, I love your blog!!!

    Blessings,
    Tracy

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you. I’m glad that you have found workboxes to be helpful. I also toyed with some other online variations that I think slowed the process down even further, but I think that their are some good variations out there also.

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  5. celee
    October 25, 2009 | 6:57 pm

    This looks completely overwhelming to me and I only have 5 kids, 3 that are currently being homeschooled. Although we do Sonlight and have lots of together time in school, independence is also important to me. I want them to work on their math, handwriting, and independent reading without having to be reminded. I just wrote out schedules for each of them and laminated them. Nothing fancy, but it works for us.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    I also just wrote out a list on our wall of independent work and that has always worked well for us. Our children are very good at working through their independent work, independently.

    I think that was one of the problems with trying to use the workboxes as written in the book. Rather than the children just doing their handwriting, math and Greek independently because they know that they do those things each day. I was gathering the 21 different books, pencils, etc. and putting them into 21 different boxes. Multiply that by all of our daily assignments and you get what I mean. Rather than getting to the end of our history reading and saying “I want everyone to fill in a 3 x 5 card about Nero” and then writing “Nero” on the board, the system dictates that I go find 7 pencils, 7-3×5 cards and 7 post-it notes, on each post-it I should write “Fill in card with pertinent facts about Nero”. It ended up being much, much more work for me.

    The system that we are using now is a terrific fit and the children really love using it. I hope to share that in a post later.

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  6. Kristina
    October 26, 2009 | 8:26 am

    Thanks for your review. I have my own version of the workboxes, which by the time I was done tweaking looks very different from Sue’s model. It was a great tool for me when we started homeschooling this year (1st grade and Kindergarten), but I agree with your statements on the value of that time WITH your children. If anyone is curious, the link to my system is here. http://transueland.blogspot.com/search/label/Workbox

    I am glad you posted the review, I have wondered if I should go full scale with her system, but I think I will hold off on that for now. I have enjoyed reading your blog, keep up the flow of wisdom!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you.

    [Reply]

  7. Karen
    October 26, 2009 | 9:36 am

    Thanks for your review post. I have five children under 7 yrs and have also found that the system just doesn’t suit us. I agree about the ‘school at home’ philosophy. This review affirmed me in the decision to use a very modified (nothing like!!)version of the system. I now have four ‘stations’ (trays) for the younger children and a ‘to do’ list for the older two written on the fridge. I try to spend one to one time with the all four older kids and reading time with the youngest one, everything else just happens naturally! We have so much more time to just ‘be’ and to do read alouds and group activities… maybe we’ll try again when the kids are older 🙂

    Thanks..

    Karen

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    I also like workboxes (in the general sense of the term) for my younger ones. I fill 4 or 5 boxes with fun activities an our 4 youngest children can pick which one they want to do. They each eventually have a turn doing each box.

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  8. valerie
    October 26, 2009 | 3:56 pm

    Thanks for reviewing. I have been doing workboxes for the last 2 months, but I had never read the book. I just simply formed my workboxes based on what I read on blogs. I am kind of silly that way. We love the way it works for us, but we don’t do it the way described in the book at all. we use drawers, and we do not do removable numbers or signs. IT just helps me stay organized. To top that off, I only have two kids, so night time prep is minimal. I always love to hear your opinion on things. Appreciate you!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks Valerie.

    [Reply]

  9. Deb
    October 26, 2009 | 5:18 pm

    I, too have read up on all the workbox hype. There are many aspects of it that I like, but even with only 2 kids, the idea of all those plastic boxes was not appetizing to me (my kids are 5 and 3 – I feel as though I am drowning in red and yellow plastic as it is).

    Plus I couldn’t really see putting repetitive supplies in each box. They have a pencil box with their pencils, erasers, rulers, etc in them. We get them out every morning and they stay beside us during school. I do like the fact that all the schoolbooks have a home, and also it forces me to use all those other learning things that I have but never seem to fit into the school day (you know, flashcards, phonics manipulatives, etc. We all have that stuff, right?) and it has spurred me to make file folder games, which we all love (oy, the nights I have stayed up with my little scissors and contact paper, though)

    So one day when I was online, I saw this

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000CD2I78/ref=ox_ya_oh_product

    It works great for us. I painted a 1×4 white and hung it on the wall. I attached the file folder pockets to it with cup hooks. I also hung up an alphabet chart and a number chart. So! Cute! Now the dining room really looks like a kindergarten!

    I don’t really bother with having different tags to unstick from the pocket and put on a chart. He does the work in whatever order he wants and then puts his workbooks or folders in the Mommy Basket for me to look at and prepare for the next day. I use little tiny post-it tabs to mark which pages we are doing in each workbook and stick it back in the pocket. Half the time I am working on this while helping with the next subject, so there is not a ton to do at night.

    My little one is the challenge. She want to “do schoolwork too!” so badly, but has the attention span of a gnat. I stayed up past midnight last night laminating all kinds of games and things I thought she’d like. She promptly rejected it all, while my son was distracted that his sister had something he’d never seen…

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Your system looks great. I love how compact it is and that the kids can see what is coming up next.

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    Debra Reply:

    DEB,
    THANK YOU!! so much for your comments and the link to the file folder hang-ups. I homeschooled my first set of children and now on to my second set (21 years between them!!) after I finish school myself next semester. I love HOW and saw the information about the boxes on Robin’s site and decided to read a bit more before I get all gung-ho and spend time and money on a highly rated system I may not like. Like you, I see no sense in putting out duplicate supplies when they can have a box of what is needed accessible. Your comments and reasoning makes so much sense to me. I appreciate ideas that do not make more work for me (Homeschooling is a full time job in itself and I have another one at that- doing adult specialized foster care plus I attend college and occasionally teach college!) To be able to implement the parts that require planning will remind me that I may need specific materials that I can hunt down the day before. My children will know when they are done with their day and I can put different surprises in the folders. I am still thinking through implementation though as my children will do the majority of their work together as they are only ten months apart (yes, I adopted my granddaughter and had a “change of life, surprise, whoops! son!) but I am sure I can write the same thing on both of their folders.
    Back in the old days (the first time I homeschooled) I used a simple paper for the weekly assignments on one paper per child my children could cross off. They seemed to know when their day would be done that way as well. I could plan a week at a time and therefore only sit down once a week to plan. My shelves are marked according to subjects so math books and manipulatives are together; therefore my children can find the supplies and put them back where they belong.
    I just really wanted to thank you for your comments as you have me rethinking the whole method. It is like I always tell other homeschooling friends, the joy of homeschooling is that you get to do what works for you!
    DEBRA 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Twisted Cinderella
    October 28, 2009 | 7:50 am

    Thanks for the review. I have been wondering about it.

    [Reply]

  11. Robin @HeartofWisdom
    October 28, 2009 | 7:35 pm

    I added you to the Workbox Directory on my blog. http://bit.ly/30ySEC

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you Robin. I hope to do a more complete post about how we use workboxes in the future.

    [Reply]

  12. Tammie
    October 29, 2009 | 3:51 pm

    I’ve just been introduced to your blog by one of our younger ladies at church. I’m a newbie to blogs! I have older children that I’ve homeschooled all the way through, but now we’re beginning again with our second batch of blessings! I’ve been searching for better ways than the same thing I’ve been doing for 13 years, so I’ve appreciated your ideas.

    For my little ones, I have a list of 60 different activities in and around our house. Many of these I have boxed away and put into the school closet. Most of us have tons of activities for little ones, we just don’t realize how many we have available. Make a real list of them and then put them up to use.

    While the big ones are doing school, the little ones get right up to the table too. Then I say in my most serious tone, “I need you to do your school work too. Can you string these, sort these, count these, match these, color these, weigh these, measure these, trace these, lace these…. for me?” Walk abound your house and think of the things you already have and have it available. It is so helpful to already have the list (I don’t have to think) and have it available (I don’t have to stop and search for items).

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    That is a great idea. I find that the less decisions that I have to make the better my day goes (and the happier my brain is). I have all of our activities in one area, but having a list?? I need to work on that.

    [Reply]

  13. L2L
    October 29, 2009 | 11:10 pm

    Thanks for you review. I have been toying with the idea of trying this out but dragging my feet as I didn’t want to have to “buy” yet another thing” to keep orginized. After reading that the goal is for them to work independant of me, I think I’ll pass. I have a 8,5 and 2 year old and we are a very loud, talkive, be by mom’s side all day. And although I do feel like I am going to pull my hair out sometimes, God is using them to grow me with all their “interuptions” and there is bible course that could ever teach me as much as they are teaching me!!!! I think I’ll pass, for now on the box system and stick with my good old lesson planner!!!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    It can be a good tool, but it is certainly not for everyone. You use your lesson planner and I’ll use my chalkboard wall. 🙂

    [Reply]

  14. Penney Douglas
    July 30, 2010 | 2:44 pm

    I’m pretty independent myself (so are my kids) so I did my own little, simple workbox system without reading the book or any blogs about it. I just put the books I want them to work in in separate drawers of an organizational unit. My kids are very independent. They sure don’t get too comfortable with Mom sitting right next to them, as that almost never happens. It’s a special treat when it does! I have 10 kids, including 2 babies – a 3 yr old and a 2 yr old.
    And I like the fact that my kids talk a lot and express themselves. I definitely don’t want to bring the classroom into my home. Organization, I like. Treating my homeschool like a classroom, I don’t like.
    Thank you for this review. Now I know that I’m not missing out on anything.

    [Reply]

  15. Debra
    July 30, 2010 | 3:37 pm

    Since I have started school about a month ago, I decided that I didn’t need the file folder hang-ups either! It took too much wall space and I don’t even use a workbook approach, so what sense did that make? I bought cheap Sterilite drawers for a place to keep manipulatives and the math workbook we use. My kids know how their day works because we keep a routine- I only need to plan what we are doing for our unit studies. My planning is as often as I start a new unit study, where I simply make a list of ideas we can do for it, post it, and cross them off when we are done, and then come to an end when the amount of designated days for it is over. I give them each a plastic bathroom type container to keep their supplies in, which can easily be carried around. Simple- no hassle, and no extra demands on me for my time or energy, something I need to continue well.

    [Reply]

  16. Michelle
    May 13, 2011 | 4:39 pm

    I look forward to reading about your system in a future post! We only have three children and loosely used the workbox system for the first time this year. Due to chronic illness, I found that putting in new activities every single day was not practical for us. I personally don’t think homeschooling our children means should be so time-consuming that mom has to use up her what little time she has left at the end of each day on preparations for the following day!

    I am not sure what we will do for the upcoming year, but I’ll be thinking and praying about it for certain!

    Thank you for this post! Have a blessed weekend!

    [Reply]

  17. Liz
    August 21, 2011 | 9:57 pm

    I’m glad I came across your review. I am planning on implementing my own version of workboxes from what I read on several different blogs. When I was coming up with the schedule I was thinking to myself that they will not be doing that much independent work as I feel there is a lot I need to teach them. I was wondering if I was doing something wrong in my scheduling. I see now that I am not and it is just fine to be interactive and not expecting the majority of their day to be independent work! I still am using this system because I need the organization behind it to keep us straight! I am a disorganized person so I think the planning ahead part will be great for me! Thanks again for the honest review. PS I have never read her book or looked. I did look at her website but it was too overwhelming for me! lol

    [Reply]

  18. Noelle
    September 21, 2011 | 3:06 pm

    I think the system appears to be helful for not only the students, but the mom too. I tend to function better when things are highly organized rather than scattered, and my son who is 2, seems to be the same way. Having the boxes for each individual “subject” will be beneficial for him and for me. It comes down to a matter of personal preference. Hopefully it will work well with our daughter (who is only 2 months old) and our subsequent children. I also wanted to mention that I have a friend who uses Sue’s system and what she does is takes some time over the weekend to prepare the lessons for the week which cuts down on how much time she has to spend during the week workng on lesson planning. I think that is a fantastic idea.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    It does come down to personal preference.

    As I mentioned in my post, I also did my lesson planning on the weekends. I did all photocopying and gathered as many supplies as possible too. It often took me upwards of 5 hours each Saturday. In addition to that time, it took me 2 hours each and every evening to fill all the boxes.

    Sue Patrick’s system is designed to minimize a parent’s interaction with their children (children are only permitted to get help or speak to their parent 3-4 times each school day). That is precisely the opposite of our desire. We wish to build relationships with our children by telling them of the wonderful things of the Lord when we rise up, when we lie down and when we walk by the way, etc. (Deut. 6:4-9). We believe that we are to be available when they ask us questions. And we pray to gain our children’s hearts. To achieve these goals we attempt to maximize our interaction with our children.

    Of course, everyone is different and I think that this system, with some changes, may be excellent for those who struggle with organization. It could provide a rigid structure to help mom and child remain disciplined to get through all the necessary subjects each day.

    [Reply]

  19. Popsiclesontheporch
    November 19, 2011 | 5:06 pm

    I just stumbled upon the whole workbox system and very much appreciated your review. While I have heard rave reviews I did share some of the same concerns you addressed regarding “independence” and what that looks like. While I believe teaching independence is necessary, my concern was that it did eliminate mom too much from the equation. That certainly is not my goal and is in direct opposition to why I chose to homeschool in the first place. Your review was the first that I have come across that actually addressed this. If you don’t mind sharing, I’m curious to know how you tweaked the system to work for your family. Thanks so much for your insight. ; )
    Mel

    [Reply]

  20. Dyan
    April 2, 2012 | 9:48 am

    Thank you for your review on workboxes! I was windering if you’d ever shared about your system that works for you?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Sorry, I didn’t.

    What I did was use a system of plastic drawers.

    Each child numbers 1-12 in their own individual color. Then I would put assignments in each drawer and the appropriate color/number would attach with velcro to the front of the drawer.

    For example, our youngest 3-4 have handwriting books. So in one drawer I would put everyone’s handwriting book and then on the front of the drawer I would put each child’s color (and appropriate number).

    Then each child would simply find the number one in their color and do the activity/subject in that box. When finished with #1, they’d move on to #2, etc. This allowed the system to semi work for us without taking up so much space (since I was able to put multiple children in the same box).

    I’m sure that’s not very clear. If you have questions, please ask.

    [Reply]

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