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Redefining “School” in our House

When I first started homeschooling, our days would include loads of hands-on fun activities. Of course when you’re with a preschooler, it’s all hands on and fun! 🙂 We would color, cut and paste, make art projects, use manipulatives, read together, act out stories, etc…. My son was learning while enjoying the process!

Over the years, we have gotten away from the FUN part of school. We have somehow gotten to the point where “school” is our math lesson, reading and grammar lesson, etc…. and anything that is hands on, fun, creative, is to be done AFTER we finish “school”. It’s not like we never do those fun things, it’s just that they haven’t been part of the definition of “school” in our house.  We have several educational computer games like Math Blaster…but I find myself saying “No, you can’t play that until after we are done with SCHOOL.”  Or “No, put the geo blocks away.  We need to finish SCHOOL first.”

Needless to say, my son (8 years old) has developed a bad attitude toward “school”. I blame it on the way that I have labeled school for him. I’ve told him that the parts that are hardwork (lessons) are school and the parts that are fun and engagging are for AFTER school. No wonder he doesn’t leap for joy at the word SCHOOL.

That’s where workboxes come in. This whole problem with our definition of school was the primary reason I wanted to try the workboxes. It allows me to define our school day in a much more well-rounded way. Now “school” consists of our lessons (the part that isn’t always so fun) with review games/activities, hands-on stuff, and more. When I fill up the boxes for the next day, I can sit back and really SEE what the day will be. Would I look forward to that day if I were my kids? Does it provide a balance of challenging work with enjoyable learning and even some FUN?

So far so good! I can see that although it’s easy for me to create a wonderful day for my 4.5 year old, it’s harder to create a balanced day for my 8 year old. Cutting and pasting isn’t going to “cut it” for him (pardon the pun). So it has challenged me to be a better mom and teacher….to really think about what interests him, to think about how he learns and what gets his attention. It also allows me to see that I have been spending lots of one-on-one time with him as his “teacher” but not enough as his mom. I have started to include more reading together for fun books into our day. He won’t want to cuddle up with me as much as he gets older….so I’m trying to soak up all the cuddle time I can! 🙂

And it’s working. Just finishing up the week and my son’s attitude toward school is totally different. Alhtough he will still balk at certain tasks, he sees that it’s just a small part of the day and there are still many other boxes full of interesting things to do and learn! I haven’t changed any of our curriculum (same math, grammar, spelling, history, science) but he says “this school is WAY better that the other school.” So we will continue to use the workboxes and see where it takes us!

So…this weekend I’m off to the Teacher Supply Store to get inspired some more! 🙂

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Today’s Workboxes

Okay so I took some pictures of my shelves and what I put in each box. I know that I got so many ideas from those who posted pictures of the contents of their boxes….so maybe this will help you too.

2nd Grader:

1. CC Review (this is our review time for our Classical Conversations work)

2. Art – Learn to Draw book with Drawing Paper

3. Math – Timed Multiplication worksheets

4. Science – Apologia Astronomy (read section on Sun) Draw picture and write in journal

5. Bible Story Reading – Choice of books available

6. Writing – Write 1 Thank You Note (he just had a birthday)

7. Spelling – All About Spelling #19

8. Review – Take it to your Seat – Phonics

9. Grammar Review – white board with words that need to be changed into contractions

10. Biblioplan – Our History program- with a word search

11. History Pockets – Pilgrims (for month of Nov.) Pocket #1

12. Science Experiment (had this for about 2 years! Time to use it!)

Workboxes for 4.5 year old:

1. CC Review

2. Explode the Code – Book A

3. Puzzle Game – Beginning Sounds Match

4. Math u See- Primer

5. Magnet Letters and Word Cards

6. Science (but then I changed it to a book to read together)

7. The Foot Book

8. Scissor Practice Sheets, glue, paper…make a book

9. 100 Easy Lessons…learning to read

10. Science – Eye dropper, food coloring, water!

11. History Pockets — Pilgrims

12. Cook with Mom – Chocolate/Pumpkin Muffins

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