Prep/Organization - Daily advice from the very organized!

Art, Foreign Language, Music, Nature Walks, as well as general ideas and encouragement
Posts: 349
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 2:45 pm

Re: Workboxes...anyone implementing them with ADV?

Unread post by RachelT »

Hello again! I agree with Julie, the book was helpful, but I don't need to "add" lots of other things into what we are already doing with MFW. So, I'm not making lots of "learning centers" for the children to do independently because we do that kind of learning together in our unit studies. Sometimes I will put things for an art project in a box, but I'm not making new visual aides or centers because we just don't need them. She does talk about creating these things in her book. I also wrote above that we only use 8 boxes per child and don't fill all of them every day because I only use them for things that they do almost independently (I'm still there in the room watching how they write a new cursive letter or I help quiz them with math flashcards, etc.).

An idea that I did get from Sue's book is to have their own independent workspace. That has been good for both of them. Before this year we worked at a table all together, but now it is nice that they each have their own space and it cuts down on the distractions. We are in this room while we are doing handwriting, math, math drill, any ECC worksheets, etc. Then I use a different room for reading and LA where I sit at the table with the child and we work one on one. We do read alouds, reading science, Bible lessons, or library books about the different countries in another room on the couch or at the kitchen table. It's been nice to use different areas of the house and to vary the "scenery".

We used the schedule at the beginning of the year and the little box number labels. We've kind of gotten away from those and work on each box in order, but that's just because the kids have our schedule memorized now, unless I change it for a day. I did get an inexpensive laminator when I was setting up the schedule and the number labels and now I laminate the index cards as I make them for the workboxes when I want to put "typing" or "quarter mile math" or "make a thank you card" in a box. The computer programs are already on the computer so I have made an index file of things that I can put in the boxes. I have used the laminator for our ECC geography game and other things.

So, the workboxes have really helped us create a more organized way of getting school work done and they have helped the children to not come to me for every little thing, but to begin to do some things on their own and then I can "check" their work when they are done. Before using the workboxes, it seemed like they thought that I needed to be right there for every worksheet or page that they did. I am usually still right there in the same room, but they can keep working if I need to leave the room for 5 minutes and change laundry or something. Of course, they are reading more independently now so that helps!

Rachel, wife to Doug ~ 1995, mom to J (17) and B (15)
MFW K (twice), 1st (twice), Adv., ECC, & CtG 2006-2010,
Classical Conversations 2010-2016,
ECC/AHL 2016-17, eclectic 2017-18, WHL & US1 2018-19

Re: Workboxes...anyone implementing them with ADV?

Unread post by cbollin »

mom2h wrote:Another question...the more I research and think about the system, the more questions pop up.
For ECC, as an example, what subjects, etc...would you put in boxes and what would not work for boxes?
Could someone break down for me what subjects you put in your boxes, and what you leave out and why...and how do you know to go to those things...tags, notes in empty boxes? (like a scavenger hunt? LOL!)
you might check on other threads on some of this ... 878#p59711 ... 163#p55163

some of the things in this picture for the dry erase board apply.. ... 300#p46300

*spelling power activity task cards -- great for workbook ideas
*copywork should work
*turns on rosetta stone
*other things like piano
*finishing art time

Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:47 pm

Re: Workboxes...anyone implementing them with ADV?

Unread post by fdjoyce »

I have used MFWK & plan to use it again next year & ECC & plan to incorporate workboxes which we have used successfully this past year. So my answer may not be program specific but maybe it will help.

Things to put in the workboxes:
1. MFW work that they complete independently- don't have ADV examples- but handwriting sheets, writing assignments, things they started with you on another day & need to edit/finish/etc, notebook pages
2. Assignments that they basically complete individually or get brief instruction in & then go do individually
3. Work with Mommy (WWM) work- items that are specific to their age/grade (for example LA & math) that you need to work with them one on one- putting them in the boxes allows you to control who is needing you at the same time without having anyone waiting- more on that below
4. Review work- we almost never did review in our day until we started using workboxes- flashcards/holey cards/card or board games that relate to the current math concepts they are working on. (the box has a label that tells them who to play the game with if they need a partner)
5. Electives like Rosetta Stone, typing, computer time
6. Reading assignments in specific books- give page #s to read or timer
7. Practice of musical instruments or specific chores (I don't include chores in my boxes but it can be done successfully!)

As one poster stated you can get carried away adding "EXTRAs" in workboxes & you need to focus on getting their core work done first. However, in my house with 4 children & 1 on the way I find that I need to be able to spread Mommy out & keep everyone engaged! I do not think workboxes are the silver bullet for that- ANY organizational system that you can use & like will work if you teach it to your children & then maintain the expectations. This relates to another thread going on right now about teaching multiple levels simultaneously. My children NEVER go off during the school day & have to be found to finish their work! This is NOT a brag on us or how smart or disciplined we are! This is simply the teaching of habits as Charlotte Mason advocated. My boys (all boys) know that wasting my time, their brothers time or dawdling during school is unacceptable. I can only have that expectation if I have plenty of worthwhile material ready for them. I certainly don't expect them to sit on the couch & wait on me to tell them what to do next! So the workboxes allow me to spread out the assignments which require Mommy & add in educational games/read to the toddler time/etc so that everyone is engaged in active learning & quality activity during the school day & not watching tv or having to be found.

I bought the MFW preschool kit 2 years ago & just broke open the plastic since we started using workboxes. I valued the items too highly & did not want them to get lost or destroyed- THIS IS SO DUMB! Nevertheless-this year using workboxes my 4 year old boy knows that if something is in his workbox he takes it out, completes it, shows it proudly to Mommy, & then puts all the pieces back in the container & his workbox. We are using & learning from all that great stuff I have colected instead of letting it collect dust & without Mommy having to be Captain Carter & without losing or destroying valuable school materials. IT is NOT about adding in twaddle or making more work for yourself! It is about about using what you have & having children engaged & working which makes life so much easier, behavior so much better, & Mommy so much nicer. It might be more difficult right off the bat to think of things for an older student but there are really even more- educational (what you are actually learning about now) games, 1 specific foldable- you learned the life cycle of a toad- give them the foldable already made that fits that info & tell them to put the info on the foldable (or for even older- give them your lapbook guide & have them pick a foldable that fits the info & record it- these are great for notebooks even if you hate lapbooks!) alone time with Mommy to talk about X,etc.

Here is how it looks at my house: First thing we do everything we do as a family- devotions, scripture memory, history readings, science, read alouds ( we don't do everything every day, we work until minds & feet are getting antsy!) Then we go to workbox time. Each child has their own set of workboxes (as I stated in an earlier post I don't have room for exactly what SP says- but we use modified versions that fit our small house.) It took a little thinking in the beginning but now it comes quite easily to make their schedules so that everyone doesn't need Mommy at the same time! I don't give everyone a WWM box first thing. I have even talked with each child after trying a few things & accommodated their requests- my oldest likes to do phonics/spelling in his first box (a WWM box) because I am "nicer earlier in the morning." My 2nd likes to do his math & penmanship early because he wants to get a few "hard things" done first. When a child gets to a WWM box they come to me. If I am available we do it immediately. If I am with another child they quietly hand me one of their help cards (they have their names on them so I don't forget who needed me) without interrupting our work & then go do their next box. On paper this sound very formal & strict but in practice it works great & there is very little waiting on Mommy. We have a VERY small house so we are all working within sight & sound of one another & I feel involved in what each of them are doing.

As far as how to know what to do you can do lots fo different things- post it notes, written schedule on paper, or use the laminated velcro system that SP recommends. My oldest has a paper schedule, the next 2 have laminated 8X11 sheets with vlecro labels they pull off as they complete. You can also just line up the boxes & have them do them in order but this requires more boxes than is necessary- for example I don't put in a box for Rosetta Stone I have a little label with a computer & they know to go do that next. I also have a book basket label so they know when to do that- this means they are doing BB at different times so if I want to use the same BB for more than one boy they are not there at the smae time fighting over books or distracting one another. I also have labels for WWM & each of thier brothers so I can tell them to do a certain activity with a specific brother -for example put our phonogram cards in a workbox for the 7 year old & put the 10 year olds picture on the box- he knows to take the cards to brother & do them with him. All this is spelled out clearly in SP's book & you can find tons of alternate ideas on the web. One advantage of the velcro labels is you can use graphics off the computer & make the system work even for a non-reader. I have not used it with a toddler but SP says she taught her 18 month old to dress himself by putting his underwear in box 1, socks in 2, shirt etc. I can easily see by watching my 2 year old that he will be able to do boxes next year- it is just setting out some specific activities for him & having variety which is something DH talks about in his teaching with toddlers talk. (But I digress (sp?))

And yes, you are correct you have to purchase the book to get the free downloads; they are password protected. they include templates for the workbox labels & a typing program that my oldest has been using this year. It is very old school- home key basic but my son likes it.

I hope this wasn't too long (ha, ha) or confusing. As I said before it is a system- you can glean benefits from it & others. It can help you be better organized but in the end it is your school & your children so do what feels right! I say don't be a slave to any system or TM! I think that is how folks take the workbox idea too far!
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Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 7:25 am

Re: Workboxes...anyone implementing them with ADV?

Unread post by mom2h »

Excellent posts. I appreciate the time to write it out. This is the kind of "insider information" I was looking for when trying to see how this works for others using MFW. One thing I really think ds needs is an opportunity to do some independent work for which he is accountable... I think teaching follow-through is important for self discipline, and it gives a power boost of accomplishment, too...

We've been doing ADV this year (loved it), and I just got my MFW catalog in the mail and was reading through the description of ECC. What a great support this board is..well, it's not the's the caring people! Thank you all!
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:47 pm

Re: Workboxes...anyone implementing them with ADV?

Unread post by fdjoyce »

I strongly recommend packing your boxes the night before (or better yet right after school in the afternoon) if you decide to use the system. That is unless you get up earlier than your children (In my tiny house my youngest get up as soon as they hear me!) I have found that my boys are so eager to start their boxes it is difficult to pack them when they are right there waiting. Also, my oldest thinks it is great fun to pack his little brother's boxes so he has been a big helper & as a bonus he knows what they are doing so when a little guy has a question, often he will answer it is I am with someone else!
Wendy B.
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:27 pm

Re: Workboxes...anyone implementing them with ADV?

Unread post by Wendy B. »

Here is an imcomplete blog post on how we are doing Adventures and workboxes....
mom2h wrote:Wendy,
Love the photos from your blog. How much is your child doing on his own from the boxes? It seems almost unnecessary to use the boxes if they can't USE them ON THEIR OWN for a lot of the work. I find myself WITH my child almost all the way through school each day. He needs initial guidance and needs prodding to finish, especially if the assignment involves WRITING. Did you notice I said "he"?

Did you lay down guidelines at first with using the boxes about time limits, questions , etc...?

I wonder if my expectations will be too high or too low. I want to teach him initiative, responsibility, time management, accountability, etc.... And I don't want school to take ALL DAY. I think this is partly a parenting own faults are spilling over...prayer. Thanks!
My guy is 7 almost 8.

My goal for using workboxes was not to have him work independently at this age. He will learn that ability as he matures over the next 3-7 years. With my 7 yo I also find myself with my child almost all the way through the school day, he also needs initial guidance on each subject, and needs prodding to finish, especially if the assignment involves writing. I do try to walk away when he is working on something to encourage him to work more independently and he will usually do copywork and a majority of his math without me.

For us, workboxes helps us keep our schoolwork organized. Sam is not a naturally organized kid so it provides a predictable structure that he can work with daily. He is very visual and having the workbox with the number chart ( or whatever the official name) gives him a very visual way of seeing how much schoolwork has been completed and how much is left to be done. Since he can peek inside each workbox it can give him a little extra motivation to work through PLL so he can get to the next workbox that must be some sort of project since it has foil/clay/paper/sticks in it.

So no. I did not lay down guidelines at first with using the boxes about time limits, questions , etc. If he needs to complete a page in math my goal is for him to do so error free and with complete understanding....regardless if it took him 5-30min or 0-20 questions. We do however have a system in place that discourages dawdling/whining/etc. So if math is taking a long time due to whiny "Do I have to do ....." then there is a consequence for that behavior. If math is taking a long time due to lack of understanding and he is asking appropriate questions then I'm more than happy to help him work through every single problem if needed. There may even be a reward involved for working especially hard in a situation that would normally frustrate him and cause a meltdown.

Workboxes is helping Sam learn initiative because he has a very clear idea of what needs to be done and what comes next even if I am not in the room to direct him. Responsibility/Accountability is being learned because he understands that he needs to complete each workbox before he goes off to play.

Time management is still a few years off due to that fact that he has the maturity level of a typical 7yo. I can help him learn the basics of time management by encouraging him to remain diligent and given him very specific feedback about the length of each school day. A simple "Wow, kiddo you worked really diligently today and now you have 2 whole hours before lunch" or "You had to work hard today to stay on task so you only have about 30 minutes before lunch" is helping him get an idea of how his behavior during schooltime impacts his playtime.

Prayer works well! If a family member is struggling with a behavior or learning issue in regards to school then we will say a special prayer for that person just before we start of school day. Sometimes that family member that needs prayer is mama! My kids really like it when it's mama's turn.... :-)

Wendy B.
Graduated ds '08 & dd '09
Homeschooling ds 11 & dd 8 using RtR
completed: MFW 1, ADV, ECC & CtG.
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 10:28 am
Location: WA State

Re: Workboxes...anyone implementing them with ADV?

Unread post by mommyintraining »

workboxes.jpg (8.17 KiB) Viewed 10453 times
Here is a pic of our workboxes that I got at Office Depot. DS has black and DD's have pink.

Mommy to 6 beautiful blessings!

DS-New little guy! :)

2010-2011: ECC , MFW 1st, preschool and toddler packages

We have used in the past MFW K and Adventures
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:48 pm


Unread post by henryteachers »

Smoakhouse wrote:I would like to hear from anyone who has used workboxes this past year. How did they work for you and do you plan to continue using them next year? Did you make any changes, if so what? What ages do they work best for? Would your recommend them to others or do you have another system?

I am considering these for next year but want to hear from some veteran before I invest time and money. It seem like all the blog post are from people just starting. Thanks,
I've been doing workboxes for a year and a half now. I do have to say we have tweaked it to work for us, but I have a love hate relationship with them. I love how they help to organize what each child does and stagger when I work with each child, rather than my 3 children needing me at the same time. I hate how I have to fill them each morning because I'm too tired to do it after homeschooling for the day. We will continue to use them as I like to be very organized and I can't imagine school without it.

Here's how we do them if you're interested: ... workboxes/

I found this post helpful from another mom and how she uses workboxes after one year: ... later.html
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2007 6:48 pm

Re: Workboxes

Unread post by Erna »

We don't use the "official" system. We do, however, have drawers in which I put the children's work for the day. My oldest is in ECC and I only put in the materials from MFW and not a lot of extras. We don't use a strip to show that we are done. Each box is labeled by number.

Soon, I will add K to my second daughter's drawers (she'll be around 5-6 when we start the program. For now, I fill about three drawers for her. She joins in on some of the stuff we do for out oldest.

My third ds is starting to be at the age where he might benefit from having some drawers filled in with homemade games, play dough and a small tray, puzzles, or activities (but without being pressured to do it all). He is a child with a lott of energy that is mostly content outside and not inside (doesn't really care to play with toys). He is pretty restless at times during our homeschooling but with starting K he might be more intrigued by some of the materials.

We started using "workboxes" to store our work during 1st orr Adventures, I can't remember which. I think if I followed the actual program I might be overwhelmed trying to fin new and interesting materials. So, I stick to it for the organizational aspect. I can see myself moving to magazine racks as they get older and using the drawers for storage of homeschooling materials. However, I can envision books being carelessly put back into racks and then see the books getting wrecked. I have 4 children that will use the curriculum so I am waiting on this. It would be useful for a greater workload than we have. I use six drawers per child and double up materials in the odd drawer if needed to save space.

Also, I don't stagger bins based on time with mom, etc. If someone needs my time I will just redirect another child to drawer #x to do while I am with someone. It makes it easier for me to go with the flow and not spend too much time thinking about what fits where.

In Christ,

Wendy B.
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:27 pm

Re: Workboxes

Unread post by Wendy B. »

I use the sterilite drawers and not the shoeboxes. This past year we filled then with each days supplies. We also moved the number off the box to the grid. My ds needed the visual re-inforcement. Prior to implementing workboxes, we had some attitude and frustration from him since he never had a clear vision of what needed to be done each day. My son was 8 when we started using workboxes.

We started ECC about 4 weeks ago and streamlined our workbox concept a bit. I still use the sterilite containers but now I put the years worth of work in each box. The whole math text goes inside and we leave it open to the next lesson for example. Our science drawer has both of the science texts inside of it. I keep our Geography books inside (except The Illustrated Atlas since it doesn't fit) and about 2 weeks of student sheets in a drawer. I still put the numbers on the boxes that we plan to use each day but we no longer move the numbers to the grid. He still has a clear vision of what needs to be done but we eliminated some of the busy work part of workboxes. Once he finishes a box, he replaces the books, gives me the papers and turns the number upside down to help keep track where he is. I no longer have to re-fill the boxes every day. I do make sure that I have all science supplies gathered so I do review this section daily.

For my family, doing the workbox eliminated the whiney, loud moan of " How much more? We've been doing this all day!" When he gets to that point he can count the boxes he has left and usually is an enthusiatic, "Four more boxes and one of those is music and read-aloud.....almost done!"

Wendy B.
Graduated ds '08 & dd '09
Homeschooling ds 11 & dd 8 using RtR
completed: MFW 1, ADV, ECC & CtG.
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:38 am

Re: Workboxes

Unread post by meljen »

I don't have a super organized system yet, but we have only been using MFW for a couple weeks. :-) We're rounding up on our first month! Yay!

I have a notebook I use to keep notes of what we do, that is still a work in progress. But as for a workbox, right now we have one medium-sized flip-top box that I use. I would like to get two...maybe one for each child, or one for things we're NOT using and one for things we are.

So anyway, every night I review what we're doing the next day, and I jot down notes then load our workbox in order of what we're doing, including little extra things needed for their activities (worksheets, etc.). I keep supplies like pencils, glue, markers, etc. in another smaller box on our little table I use for storing our school supplies. That helps keep things organized. :-)

It does help having a workbox, as we can look at it and know what to do for the day, and I can load the bottom of it with free-read books so I don't forget to add those in. ;-)

Hope this helps!
DD 7, DS 5
Using MFW K & 1st for the first time (2011)
Posts: 675
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am

What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by gratitude »

samiam wrote:I got my ECC package, woohoo!

I have spend the last few days reading the first pages, looking at the schedule for the first few weeks.

I feel the need to get organized for Fall 2011 school year. I know MFW is open and go, but the fact is, I want to be able to have items on hand for experiments, activities, etc, otherwise they just won't get done. I also want to schedule Discovery Education and Netflix movies to go along with our studies. I need to remember to reserve book basket books a few weeks in advance, something I started to fail at this year towards the end of Adventures.

I would love if I had this all planned out, sure, with the option to tweak here and there. I have until the beginning of August to get my ducks in a row. I use the free version of HST to organize my children's assignments, and we use workboxes to keep us on track on a daily basis. But what about me? I need something, not sure if paper/pencil or computer file, to have my stuff planned, organized, etc. Hmm, how do you prep for the upcoming year?
I Love this question, and look forward to reading the answers that you get. I like your idea of buying the science/hands on project materials ahead of time. Great idea!

One thing I do is plan on exactly what we will be trying to complete next school year & then purchase all of it in the spring so that it is ready to go.
I also put a daily schedule in my head of how we will get it done.
Then I read through the early parts of each TM that we will be using, and look at the book lists for the first 2 weeks.

What I still would like to do before fall:
Re-organize our home school cupboard. Re-organize our book shelves. Put all of the books that relate to ADV & K on one shelf (although I am still not sure about K).
Now that I have read your post: pre-purchase at least a month or two of science & activity supplies (this would help us complete projects too).
Once we move - find a new place for our time-line that came down for house showings.
Once we move - post a white board for daily chores & assignments.

I look forward to reading some more ideas.
Posts: 467
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:10 pm

Re: What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by jasntas »

I read through the first few weeks in the TM. Then I go through and read the science and art projects for the year and decide which ones I'll probably use and which ones I'll sub. As I go through these I make a list of needed items. Anything I can purchase ahead of time I start picking up over the summer. I store these items in an organized manner (at least to start with) in plastic storage bins I keep on this big rack thingie I have in our 'classroom'. (It's a kitchen rack from Home Depot, I think).

I do a thorough cleaning of our classroom and I reorganize and weed out books and items from the room.

As far as books for book basket, this year for ECC when we would start a unit I would request the needed books for the next unit. For instance, I requested the Antarctica books when we started Australia. So basically I would request them two weeks in advance.

With the books and videos we own, I put a yard sale sticker on them with the year and usually the week/s needed and place them in the order they'll be used on our 'classroom' book shelf. So it looks something like 'ECC wks 33-34' on the sticker.

Another thing I do. With our online library system I can save my lists. I type in the books I want and save them under a specific title such as "ECC Weeks 33-34" or "ECC Weeks 33-34 in (My Town). Then all I have to do is pull up my list and request the books or print the list with the 'My Town' books and take it with me to the library when I go.

As far as any extras I want to add such as videos we own or can get through Netflix, I pencil them in my TM on the week I plan to use them. I already have a bunch of Bible videos we own penciled in my CTG TM for this fall.

I look forward to hearing other ideas as well.
Tammie - Wife to James for 27 years
Mom to Justin (15) and Carissa (12)
ADV & K 2009-2010 . . . RTR (again) & WHL 2016-2017
The days of a mother are long but the years are short.
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:47 pm

Re: What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by Smoakhouse »

This is a great topic. I have been preparing for my first year of MFW with Kindergarden.
I have read through the TM and made lots of notes on post it. I have a list that someone else posted of needed supplies for each week so I can be sure I have them at least a week in advance. I would love a similar book list. I plan to request from the library each week for the following week. I have set up a file box as suggested and gather a few items.

I love the idea of pulling all of my personal books and setting them aside and marking them with a sticker for the week used. I have all of our books organized by subject.

I am also setting up workboxes and see if they can keep us on track, particular mommy. ;D This will insure that I have everything ready for the day and I don't lose his attention while I'm gathering supplies at the last minute.
Cheri in TN
Mom to girls 23 & 20 and boy 10
Homeschooling for 18 years and counting!!
MFW ECC (2016-17)
MFW Adventures (2013-14)
MFW 1st (2012-13)
MFW K (2011-12)
MFW Health (fall 2011)
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2007 6:48 pm

Re: What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by Erna »

When I get my supplies, I look through everything. I tend to read the read aloud books ahead of time to understand what they are about. I also make note of the books some question using on the forums or yahoo groups and read those to get a feel for whether we will use them or not. I also go through the manual and make note of whatever I might find I want to expand on, look into, etc.

I also go through the TM and write a list of all the supplies I will need for the year. If I was wise I would type them up b/c I will likely need the list again in the future (have 4 children at present). I would love if MFW would copy and paste their weekly supply lists and make a master list to have at a glance. I think it would benefit both those who like to buy everything up front (like me) or those who like to do it as it comes.

I plan a day or two with my dh and purchase all the supplies we can find before we start the year. I didn't do that this year (renos and new baby) and we ended up not doing a few things b/c I didn't have the non-perishable supplies on hand.

This year, I punched holes in all of the worksheets and put them in my "teacher's binder." It made it much easier to put into our work bins when I looked at the schedule. I made math drill recording sheets to help me record the time and results from my daughter's on-line drills. I also grouped together some basic science sheets, forms, etc. in the binder along with the schedules. In the binder, I also have some lined paper to record attitudes, challenges, successes, comments, etc. I can refer to this to see how children have progressed, to write a report, or to have a way to chart what needs to be worked on.

I also put all the materials into its own little cubby of an Ikea shelf that came recommended by some on a forum or list related to MFW, I think. It helps segment our learning materials, which is neat. Eventually, I would like to colour code the years with some library stickers on the spines so my children can borrow books and easily locate the where the book belongs when they are done. I would love to do this at the start of each year.

There are some years I have to revamp the studies for Canada and this takes A LOT more prep work as I read materials, formulate the schedule, and figure out what activities/resources/games to include. I also made my own notebooking pages and timeline pieces one year (ADV). It was a lot of work! I hope the Americans here realize how blessed they are to have an "open and go" curriculum. :o) It was so nice for me this year with ECC! I wonder if MFW would someday partner with someone in Canada to come up with a Canadian package (I could only hope) now that I have seen them travel north to a homeschool convention once. Maybe Canadians would flock to it then? I could only hope and wish as there are not many complete Canadian curriculum companies out there ... Actually, not any, I think. Maybe a fan in Canada can start an off-shoot partnership ... MFW Canada??? ;o).

My library has the option to save book titles in folders on-line. I tend to do this in advance so I can open a new page and book the books/videos a week or two before our studies. They don't have a button to click or a box to select for booking the books directly from the folder. This allows me to find available MFW books, add some from a library search, or add a book someone recommends here or elsewhere. I would like to eventually print the lists and add them to our binder to show what books were read. We used to type out all the titles of books that we borrowed and rate them but our life was too busy this year for that. The folders allow me to delete titles we didn't care for and maintain the list for future years.

I will be redoing K this year and was thinking of making some sensory/exploration bins. If I do this, I will have to gather materials ahead of time. I have already brainstormed the ideas for the lists (but where I saved it ... That is the question!).

Okay, enough rambling and dreaming. This has become quite long! I might do some other stuff too but this is what comes to mind.


Posts: 986
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:43 am

Re: What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by TriciaMR »

Here's what I do to get organized...

1. Read through the front of the manual (before the grids), and look at the advice for ages/grades/abilities, reminders for narration, schedule (how long each subject should take), and the general supply list. I make notes about those things and start a separate list of supplies.

2. Read through the rest of the TM (especially if you have time), and glance at a few lessons in the different books to see if I like them or not. (I usually do.) With ECC, I would DEFINITELY look through the Art recommendations and the Global Art book and pick out your projects in advance to see which ones you want to do. For CTG, I would read through the Feasts book and TM recommendations and start planning some ahead. In RTR - you might want to preview Augusts Caesar's World (my dd did NOT enjoy this book). I usually end up going through the TM several times.

3. I use hanging file folders to store each kids' student sheets. I get plenty of page protectors (I have their student notebooks spiral bound at the end of the year at FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos) so I don't want them hole punched) for those. I also use a file box with folders to store "seatwork" and worksheets for the week. Each kid has a folder for each day of the week.

4. Put away books we don't need for this year's work.

5. Get online and check which books our library system has and which ones I will need to "prospector" or Inter-Library Loan.

6. Oh yeah, pray about a schedule. Pray a lot about a schedule. I need a good schedule/routine to work with my kids.

7. I also look at P.E. Class, Dance, and Piano lessons and see how that's going to affect our days/schedule.

8. Use the summer to teach my kids new chores and get them into that habit before school starts up in the fall.

9. Read the archived section of this message board for tips and ideas. Note those down, too.

10. Type stuff into Homeschool Tracker Plus (HST+). I actually don't type all the exact lessons, I just have "Week 1 Day 1", "Week 1 Day 2" etc, and just refer to my T.M. But, we add Piano, AWANA verses, Foreign Language, Typing/Keyboarding, and math drill, so I like putting all those into HST+. There aren't boxes on the schedule for those, and I like being able to hand my kids a list of things they can do independently while I am working with the others.

11. Type up the verses we are memorizing from MFW (actually, I cut and paste out of Bible Gateway dot com into a Word document), and make it a big enough font that we can see from across the room.

12. Make sheets for my kids to copy their verses onto. We have some dyslexia in my kids, so it makes it easier for some of them if the verse is on the same page they are copying and such.

There's probably other stuff... Maybe learn some new meals to throw into the meal schedule. Panic about "How am I going to teach all these kids" and then pray about it some more. :) Go clothes shopping for the kids before we get started and we don't have time for it. That kind of stuff makes my school year go easier.

Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
2014-2015 - AHL, CTG
2015-2016 - WHL, RTR
2016-2017 - EXP1850, US1877
2017-2018 - DE, 1850MOD
2018-2019 - College, AHL
My blog
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:30 pm
Location: B.C. Canada

Re: What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by harvestmom »

For Planning:
This was my first year planning and I planned very similar to Erna. I spent some time saving whatever books our library carries for our book basket. I browsed through the TM and noted down any supplies necessary for science, art, or weekly lessons. I have a better idea of what I want for this year to look like, so I plan on spending a bit more time organizing my Canadian resources so they will compliment ADV. and it's sequence.

Erna- Paige Timer is looking for comments from Canadian Users. E-mail her through MFW's website. She's in charge of Canadian communications. I haven't e-mail her yet but she is excited about MFW for Canadian Users and they want to work on providing more for Canadians.

Harvestmom-B.C. Canada
Using Adv. with ds 8, dd 7, dd 3
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:22 pm

Re: What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by Kelly1730 »

Trish's list looks a lot like what I do so I won't bother re-typing it but just to say that the planning is one of my favorite parts. Enjoy!;)
Mom to 6
Mimi to 8
MFW K, MFW 1st, Adventures, ECC, CTG, RTR ,EXP-1850, 1850-MOD, Ancient History and Lit 2016-17
Cyndi (AZ)
Posts: 542
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 4:22 pm

Re: What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) »

Trish's list looks awesome. (maybe I should I print it as a "to-do list" ???)

One thing Mike said a few years ago has stuck with me (their's must be a very organized family) -- he reads through the TM once without making notes or looking at books just to get a feel for it, then goes through it again and makes his notes and references student sheets, etc. I think he said he actually goes through the TM about 4 times over several days. I tried that with ECC and it helped me. You can see the pattern of the weeks unfolding and understand the big picture of how the year is going to flow so it makes it easier to decide how to use student notebooks, etc. I tend to get caught up in the details, but going through the whole TM a few times helps you see "the year" instead of just "this unit."

I've also done the open-and-go with MFW and it works great that way, too. But I enjoyed my time gearing up for ECC and will probably do the same for CTG when I get it.

[Editor's Note: Mike's post ]
2018/19: US1877
used MFW from K through WHL
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:40 pm
Location: NW Arkansas

Re: What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by WindDancer »

I have to plan our homeschool around my school schedule each semester. This Fall I will have classes on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays and I have 2 online classes. So for August through December we will homeschool M-W-F (hands-on stuff) and my son will do independent work on Tues & Thurs when I am at the university. It all gets re-evaluated when I register for Spring classes. We also homeschool through the summer.

Lisa :)
Homeschooling since 1996.
Graduated two children 2008 & 2010.
Son, 13, using MFW RTR & loving it!
Me, 48, full-time student at university :)
DH~~self-employed artist at home.
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 11, 2011 1:56 pm

Re: What do you do to get organized for next year?

Unread post by Calicokat7 »

I make a spreadsheet for each child called "180 Days of School." I include holidays, coop's and any field trips I know we're planning. This helps me to be realistic about what can be accomplished. These serve as my check list and record for the new school year.

I also put together a 34 week student planner (empty pages). I write down their weekly assignments here. This helps them to know what needs to be done regardless of interruptions etc. to our day. My kids are all starting to work more independently and the message is that school is first, then the other stuff.

I have a "Countdown to the End of the Year" poster/checklist for the kids to mark off how many days of school they've done and they can see the progress their making towards the end of the year.

Then I buy science experiment stuff & school supplies.

We're on day 164 of the current school year. The kids are motivated to get it done!
1850 to Modern, fall of 2012
dd 13, dd 11, ds 9, and ds 7

MFW 1st Grade, spring 2012
dd 5
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:32 pm

Re: Workboxes

Unread post by demetria08 »

Here's a great resource I've been using to put my workboxes together for next year. There are a number of ways to do workboxes...gotta find what works for your family. Best wishes! :)
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:14 am

Re: Major organization help needed

Unread post by rjsmomma »

Sahmamma wrote:We are starting ECC in a few weeks and I am in need of some major organizational tips. I am usually a very organized person, but for some reason with all of the resources that I have, I am having a hard time organizing it in my brain let alone in my home.

We have to use our kitchen table for lessons usually as even though we have a white board and books and school supplies in the office, it has become too small for me and the three kids (9,7,4) to move about. The kitchen table and area is also fairly small.

Do you go in a special order when teaching? Bible first, etc? My kids of course don't like a lot of writing, and typical "lessons", so I guess if I could break it up that would be good, but I always got caught with the fact that one kid is faster than the other, then my 4 year old just distracts everyone, LOL.
Well, I'm not much help as I only have one and we don't really have a set place that we do school. We also have limited space (house is 700 sq ft, and I had to get rid of the couch in the living room so I could put a dining table in it's place:). But I can answer about how we start our day. My dd is 12 and really NOT a morning person. So I let her get up and watch a little TV while eating her breakfast and getting dressed. Then it's time for animal chores and making her bed (something that just in the past 6 months or so has become important to her). Then we start school out with read-aloud or spelling as these are both subjects that she likes, so it's the easiest to get her to do:) Then we do Bible and kind of go down the list.

Shannon Meyer
DD - 13 years old - 7th grade
Used MFW for K, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and now 7th:)
Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:00 pm

Re: Major organization help needed

Unread post by rebeccal2002 »

Hi, I'm not sure what your house is like, but you mentioned you have a kitchen table. Does that mean you have a dining table too? If so, I'd move into the dining room. There would be more wall space for maps, artwork, etc., too. For years I tried to hide my school stuff so our house didn't look like a classroom. Since I started MFW, I just went for it and set everything up how I needed to for a full-time school. I have all my stuff right were I need it and we do school much more consistently because I don't constantly have to get things like maps back out. I do clear off the table when we're done, so that we can eat at it. :)

We pretty much follow the ECC grid as to order. Here's what we do: Bible reading, scripture activities (copywork, etc), then my older girls do math independently on the computer (taking turns to watch/play w/ the 2 and 3 yos.) During math hour I teach my 1st grader. Then we break for a quick snack, then I do 1 on 1 lessons with my older 2 girls with English, and spelling. The one I'm not working with at the moment does math facts on the Flashmaster and then a bit of work on the Geography sheets. The 1st grader and 3 year old watch videos (word world, blues clues) during this time. (45 mins to 1 hr). My 2 year old floats around. :) Then, I read the science/geography lessons. The kids do any activity sheets and we call it good. Whew. :) Art, piano, and typing are done after lunch and lunch cleanup. I should say that I nurse a couple times in that schedule too. :)

I would get yourself a little desk or shelf area where you can keep all your lesson plans, books, and materials to keep yourself organized. I also find having a little copier (its our printer, but makes copies) a good thing to have to make a quick copy here and there. I don't know what I'd do if I had to run to the copy store every time I needed a copy of something. And every weekend, I look ahead to see if I have all the materials that I need that are listed in the TM for the upcoming week.

Anyway, HTH some.

HS'ing since 2006, MFW since 01/2011 :)
2015/16: ECC (2nd time around w/ 3rd, 6th and 8.5 grader), WHL (10th). Also 2nd half of K and 1st for 6 year old.

Finished K, 1st, ECC, CTG, RTR, Exp-1850, 1850-MOD, AHL

and 4 year old helping!
Julie in MN
Posts: 2902
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: Major organization help needed

Unread post by Julie in MN »

<hugs> as you get started this year :) I really think you will be blessed by having your whole day on one grid. You can so easily see what you've accomplished and what you have yet to do by just glancing down one column.

Our house has morphed over the years in different ways. Some years my ds listened to most of history while draped over a giant exercise ball, other years he was lying on the floor with a clipboard perched in the air, and there were always those lovely days of reading in the hammock outdoors.

And I definitely agree that breaking up lessons really helps get thru the day efficiently. I might start down the grid in order and then realize one subject was especially sedentary, so I'd choose an active subject next, or I'd tell ds to do 10 jumping jax or the like. We long had an exercise bar in one doorway for chin-ups and basic monkeying around.

Wherever *I* settled in for most of my day is where I lined up a row of books and the map and such to have at hand. I use a lot of those sticky tabs to mark exactly where we are in books (high schooler asks for them still). I also found it handy to have a plastic tote with general supplies for science or art or whatever we were needing supplies for in a particular year. In more recent times, we have a rolling cart with a top drawer of basic pencils and such, and drawers with student sheets and such underneath.

As for some kids being faster than others, I think at some point you have to set aside something to be done later. You can jot it down on a marker board so you don't forget, or place it in a prominent place.

Hope some of those ideas help,
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002+)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs
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