Friday, March 27, 2009

Envelope System

I mentioned in my last post about starting Sue Patrick's Workbox System in our home school. This is a system that my friend Leslie from the Five In A Row message boards had introduced to us at the beginning of March. She had started it in her home school and had seen great results. Her enthusiasm was very contagious! I don't think I've ever seen a thread as long as that one in my 7 years of participating there. LOL!

The idea is that you get a four tiered rack and 12 plastic shoe boxes per child and fill each shoe box with an assignment or activity so that they will have 12 assignments per day. It is very visual and a great motivator for the child to see their progress as they complete their work and move on to the next box.

The main reasons Leslie found the system so helpful were more independent work by her children, getting more work accomplished in a shorter time and adding more fun back in to their school day. Those sounded like great reasons to me. I ordered the book and read through it in two short sessions. It explained the philosophy behind the system and some how-to's. Some of the other FIAR moms also shared their ideas and variations on the system, and I particularly liked Jessica's, as I did not see how I could find a place for 5 racks and 60 plastic shoe boxes (it makes me shudder just to think about it). So I decided, prayerfully, to try it out the envelopes. Of course, one VERY positive result of this for me is that I had to get all of my school materials better organized in order to be able to fill the envelopes every day.

I decided to use the school baskets we already had. I just added the number grids to the front of the baskets...

The little girls didn't have official school baskets yet, so I did buy new ones for them...

So, in case you're wondering how long we've been doing this and what my opinion is now that I've actually implemented this into our school day...we started them the week before March Break, took a week off and have just completed our second week. The jury is still out as far as my opinion goes. The children absolutely LOVE the envelopes...even the two year old asks for *embelopes* every day! I think it's the surprise factor that they have enjoyed so much. They are progressing through them quite quickly and seem to be getting more accomplished each day. I have also been able to add in more fun (i.e. watercolours, bug studies, menu planning, nature journaling, drawing, extra colouring pages, games etc.).

I'm not sure why I'm still not 100% sold on this thing...except that maybe it's just taking more discipline and TIME on my part to get it all organized and the envelopes filled. I'm going to give it another month, though, because I imagine it will get easier and quicker the longer I do it. I'll let you know!

By the way, take a look at Heather's adorable boxes here! Such a creative mom! And I am using her workbox planner sheet (also on her blog).


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