Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Update on the work boxes

We've been at our new school schedule for two weeks. Well, sort of two weeks because we took the end of last week off due to K.'s surgery. In general things are going well, though my tip for the day is do not plan an involved craft for a Monday, and particularly not a Monday after a four day break. It's just not pretty. Crafts work much better it seems once everyone gets back in the school routine for the week. I think this is why Fridays work so much better. Boy, it was ugly yesterday.

But that's not really what I sat down to write about. Work boxes (or at least our version of them) is really the topic of the day. I had mentioned in my excruciatingly detailed post about our school plans that I was trying something new with TM this year and that was going to be the work box system. Since ever that seemed possibly too overwhelming for the boy, I modified it quite a bit. He has a hanging file box where there are four hanging files. Each day I fill the four file folders with school work; the first three he does on his own while I'm working with the littles and the fourth he does with me. I truly had no idea how it would work.

I am happy (oh, you don't know how happy) to report that so far it seems to be working. He has made it through each of the folders everyday and little to no disregulation. Hallelujah! Here are a couple of reasons why I think this is a good fit for right now. First, it appears to be a manageable size. He can handle four things, especially if at least one of those four things seems 'fun'. Second, it puts him in charge. Even though I am the one who filled the folders, I am not directly telling him what to do at that moment. It seems we are short-circuiting a constant problem of never wanting to do comply with Mom. Third, there are some fun things in those folders, though they do have academic benefit. I have some mazes, some coloring pages, a loupe to look through and then draw what is seen, and other things of this sort. It's different each day and never in the same order. The predictable unpredictableness seems to be working. And last, I'm not expecting him to do any real academic-y thing by himself. We rotate through Grammar, Reading, and Math and I sit with him the whole time, doing much of it orally so as to avoid the handwriting battle. (I decided that writing out the answer, even after he has given the correct answer was my issue, not really his. In his mind he had already answered and didn't see the point in answering again.) All of this makes for a boy who sort of, kind of is looking forward to schoolwork in the mornings.

I don't think I could manage even this modified system for more than one child, though. The preparation is pretty intensive and I'm constantly looking at my pre-thought out list and filling the folders at the last moment. Realistically, it would make most sense to do it the night before, but I'm pretty much brain dead by the time the last cheek has been kissed that the last cover straightened and I need to get ready for bed myself. I've given up trying to do anything at night, even fun stuff, so school stuff certainly doesn't make the list. It's a season, right? Some days it feels like a really long season...


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