The workbox system is a popular way of organizing your homeschool day. In a nutshell, you place your child’s assignments and books in each of the drawers either the night before or the week before and let your child work through it at their own pace. It appeals to many homeschoolers because it offers their children a bit of independence and can therefore help your homeschool day run a little smoother. Today I want to talk about some of the different ways to adapt the homeschool workbox system to work for your family. I’ll share where you can get free printable labels for the front of your drawers for younger children, how to use 1 workbox cart for your whole family, and other solutions for separation if you don’t own this cart or want an alternative. If you’re intrigued, would you take two seconds and pin this image on your homeschool board? There is a little Pinterest button in the top left corner if you hover over it!
5 ways to use the workbox system in your homeschool
1. The craft cart
The picture above is a craft cart (I’m going to link to some different places to shop for them right here, these are affiliate links that won’t cost you anything but will help support my blog costs). It has ten drawers and is more commonly found in your local craft store or Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. You may find it in an office supply store as well. The drawers are plastic and you can find them cheaper and more expensive, and there IS a difference! The cheap ones don’t carry a lot of weight so if you are planning on putting heavy textbooks in them, it is worth getting one of the better ones from the craft store (I had a black and white cheap one and all the drawers would fall out of their tracks).
Generally, the main set up is that you would purchase one per child (I know, right?). It can be pricey to set up in the beginning, but it can be a HUGE time saver in the long run. The way this works is that the night before you would print off or tear out any worksheets you want your kids to do. You would fill the workboxes from top to bottom with all their different subjects and activities and books and they would just work from top to bottom. Even if they need help from you, it means you don’t need to go find the book and find the papers or photocopy anything. I don’t know about you but I feel like I waste a lot of time doing this during my school day. This means that my kids lose interest while they wait for me and I spend more time settling them down than actually teaching. With multiple children, the more organized we can be, the smoother and more streamlined our days are going to run. And the workbox system can make that happen. You can even arrange your multiple kids to co-incide. So maybe all of their first 2 boxes are independent work and then their third box is a group subject that they will be doing together! It is the ultimate way of setting up a homeschool routine. No paper to follow, you just work in order of what you set up in the workboxes.
2. Weekly planning
Now, for that system you would do your planning the night before because it is detailed and you are separating every subject and printing off every paper. I find that works best for younger children but it can be tedious. Another option is to use the workboxes for your weekly planning. This would work better for older kids. I often put their weekly plan in the top drawer, or clipped to a clipboard on the top of their workboxes. Then instead of printing off just the next day, I would have the entire week organized in there with all their textbooks, in the order I want them completed by. It is more time sitting down and planning, but it allows you to do it once a week and can offer your kids a bit more flexibility as well. Remember, if you are using this for older kids and large textbooks, you are going to need the more expensive carts so that those drawers hold up (sorry, but it will save you money in the long run!).
3. Ikea Trofast hack
Now, a different method that I think looks super pretty is to do the same idea as above, but instead of cheap plastic multicoloured drawers, you have wood and trays (swoon). This is even MORE expensive and I have a word of warning before I continue. We bought the Trofast for toys and the drawers NEVER stay in their tracks. Even with some of the lighter sets like magnets or playmobil, the drawers are tipped all over the place. I could never put books in it, it wouldn’t hold up. Now, that being said, I bought one of the cheaper Trofasts, if you successfully use one in your homeschool, please comment below which one you bought! And if you’re considering this, read some reviews on it first!
Okay, the trofast system is pretty much the same idea but the great part is that you can get one that will serve for all your kids like this. They have taller/larger ones available on the website but not showing it with pine and white boxes so I am sharing this image. The point is that you can get the same idea of a system but it looks a lot nicer. There are lots of homeschoolers who use the Trofast so definitely look it up, but bear in mind that those drawers could be a problem AND it can be a pricey system to set up (probably not more than the craft drawers though if you are buying for multiple kids).
4. Using organizing tubs
On a budget? No problem! That doesn’t need to hold you back from using this system! What I would do if money is tight is go to Walmart or some other cheap store (heck, you could do this in the dollar store) and get some of those shoebox plastic bins with lids. You could buy enough for 5-8 per child and just stack them. If you wanted to make it pretty, I would add in some of these chalkboard labels on Amazon and label them with their subjects and put them on a wooden shelf. Voila! You can get the same idea of the system (and still make it look really nice) costing you about $30 per kid! Or if you want something a little sturdier than the dollar store but like the idea of stackable bins, I found these on Amazon and they look like they would work well!
5. Using binders and baskets and files
Now, the idea behind this system can be completely adapted to suit you! If you are homeschooling in a small space and don’t like the idea of carts and furniture for your organization, there are other ways of implementing the workbox system. One idea is to use binders, you could take apart the kids’ books and have binders separated by weeks that they just work through. Snag the better binder in 3″ and it will hold most of your school resources for the year (for 1 child).
Another option is to blend a morning basket with this idea. Rather than having a morning basket, have a daily basket. This works really well if you have only a few kids you are homeschooling or you blend a lot of your subjects. You can set up your basket the night before with everything you need. I have used this system before and it actually works remarkably well and takes up no space at all! I recommend getting a little binder and using the Mom’s Master Binder printable. Set up all your daily worksheets for the kids in here and you are set to go!
Lastly, the file folder system. I am going to be talking more about that tomorrow, but I wanted to share a little overview with you here because it really is an adaptation of the workbox system that just doesn’t take a lot of space. If you want to learn more right now, I found out about this awesome course that gives you everything you need to implement it in your homeschool.
A video flip through of a sample set up
Check out a quick video run through of our workboxes and don’t forget to come find me on Instagram if you’re there!