we are constantly moving things around in our school room, tweaking what we do to try to do it better, to adapt to our changing needs, to hopefully help our days run smoother. because, Lord knows, we need it!
one thing that has helped us immensely is the use of work boxes. this idea was created by sue patrick who even wrote a book about it. now, i don’t follow her book to the letter, but i have gleamed a handful of helpful ideas from it. the basic concept is to divide up work into different boxes, completing each box before moving on to the next.
we do use her idea of the plastic shoe boxes on the wire shoe rack.
i eventually spray painted each rack for each kid so there was no confusion or mixing of boxes.
i also numbered each of their boxes with scrap paper and packing tape. i made a “done!” sign for each box so when they are done with a box they can turn it around and i can see at a quick glance how much work they’ve each done.
as cumbersome as it is, it really does help us out. we are constantly moving the workbox stations around. up until a few months ago, we kept the work boxes at our empty wall in the playroom (our school room), all lined up and they fit perfectly. but then i realized that we weren’t using that wall as well as we could, that it was more of a storage space instead.
i had been wanting to do some sort of library with all of our great books, but the standard bookshelf in the living room wasn’t working all that great. our oldest would grab books all the time from there, but our younger 2 just weren’t interested. i have always loved the ideas of using gutters for book shelves so the book covers face out, so we decided to use the wall space for this.
pros and cons to the gutter shelves:
pro: all our books for the trimester can be seen easily by all 3 kids
con: even though the gutters themselves were inexpensive, the clips to attach them on the wall were really pricey when you have to buy a bunch
pro: the kids are reading so much more than before
con: when we were installing the gutter shelves, we hit metal supports in the walls and jacked up the screws
pro: we waste much less time looking for specific books
con: we didn’t think about the spacing of the hooks – at each point they are used they cross the top of the gutter and make that space unusable. the space at the end of our shelves would be unusable if we didn’t have a couple small, non-book items to put there, like the jar of white board markers under the white board.
pro: the space feels so much more “schoolish” than it did before. when we had the workboxes on that wall, they stuck out so much that we couldn’t reach the map or number line well.
con: while we now have each work box station next to the kids while they work, its been hard to find a good space for them to fit when we’re not doing school.
we have very little wall space in here, so i tried to squeeze in some encouraging words where i could. the top quote was given to me for silas’s baby shower. the bottom print was made by a sweet friend of mine (she’s only 15!) and she has a handful of others she’s made, too. isn’t it adorable?!
and even though our room is lined with individual desks for the kids, they most often are sitting at the little table in the center of the room or are laying on the floor doing work on their laps. i am learning so much this year that schooling doesn’t look like i want it to, that i have to be flexible to move around and let the kids work where they are being productive. i’m also learning that schooling my kids isn’t about me, its about them, and that is something i need to remind myself of everyday!