One of the many things that I really like about being part of the 2009/2010Homeschool Crew is that even though I'm reviewing homeschool products, you get a glimpse into our home with each review. If you read my reviews, you learn a little bit about me, our family, our home and our homeschool. This review is no exception. I received a complimentary copy of Sue Patrick's Workbox System E-book so that I could review it for you here.
I am not a manual reader. I love curriculum that I can just jump into with not a lot of prep or reading required. So, I really appreciated the section entitled, "How to Use This Book" at the beginning of the book. In this section I was directed to start my reading at chapter 4, where I would get the workbox system in its entirety.
In general, this User's Guide is easy to read. The font used is large and there are a lot of color photographs and graphics dispersed throughout the entire book. I did not print this ebook, because it really was easy to read on my computer screen. Usually I do print e-books because they are overwhelming to page through on the PC. But this was not the case with the Sue Patrick's Workbox System User Guide, it was easy to read on-screen. You didn't get lost while scrolling pages because of the large font.
Unfortunately, I did not find the Sue Patrick Workbox System to be one I could use in our home or homeschool. This is the part where you get a glimpse into our lives a bit. We live in a small home. I can vacuum my entire house without having to move the plug. We do not have a homeschool room and we do not call our day "school." We have our lessons at the kitchen table and in our living room. We have lots of pets, some of them odd, which we care for in the midst of lessons. We read aloud during meal-times or in the evening. We complete some lessons with Daddy at night, although not often. We try to have an atmosphere that school is not a segregated time from 8 to 3 during the day, but a learning is a lifestyle. I am not an un-schooler, that would be difficult to do and still maintain our state's requirements, plus our boys do well with a certain amount of structure. The boys have lessons that they do during our morning and early afternoon hours. So please don't think that we are completely unstructured, but I am also not a rigid, very structured homeschooler. I don't buy a lot of curriculum. I use lots of unit studies, lapbooks, and living books to teach the boys. And, although our boys are 20 months apart and would be 1 year apart in public school, other than math, we do all the other subjects together.
All that being said, the first reason that Sue Patrick's system would not work for us is a space-issue. As I said, we have lessons in the living room or kitchen. Using her system as written would take up a big chunk of space in our small living room. Also, I wouldn't want guests or extended family to have to look at the boys lessons set-up when here to visit. It CAN be adapted to a smaller space if you work creatively outside the confines of the book. You would just have to think about how you could make it fit your living space.
The next reason that I did not find the Workbox System appealing was that it was too much like school. In one part of the explanation of the system she explains that too many homeschool children talk too much. To quote her book directly, She has many plans in place so that your children don't interrupt the day with talking and can get your attention in unobtrusive ways. I understand what she means. Our boys talk a lot and we might be able to get our lessons done in less time if they didn't tell me their thoughts. As I watch my children grow so quickly, however, I don't want them to talk to me less. I want more-more-more because I know that the time when they will be out on their own is approaching faster than I can imagine. And I will long to hear them share with me, "every thought that enters their mind." Also, since, quite often, it is the middle-school ages when children begin to clam-up and think that they cannot share everything with their parents, I never want to discourage the boys sharing their thoughts with me, even if they are off-topic. It is the unplanned times when we've had our best conversations. I would never want to discourage that.
"I find that there is way too much talking going on in homeschools." Chapter 4, page 36, under the "independence" heading
Finally, she suggests giving your child a limited amount of times when he or she can ask for help. I understand that the goal here is independence but I disagree that they have 3 help cards and if they use those they don't get my help any more today. That doesn't encourage independence, it encourages pride, an "I can do it myself" attitude, and bypasses my role as their teacher. I know that of which I speak because I'm that person who never wants to call for help. My husband often asks, "Why don't you just call?" Pride. That's why. I'm a homeschool mom because I want to be part of the boys education. They are great at figuring out their own problems, but I never want to limit the number of times that they can ask for my help.
Although I did not find this to be a system that would work in our little homeschool, it may be the solution you were seeking. Please know that it is a good read with some really good ideas. We will be incorporating "running" into our afternoons. But you'd have to read the book to find out what I mean by that. If you would like to know more about Sue Patrick's Work Box System, you have a few options. To contact Sue Patrick directly, follow the instructions here although she does say that she is not able to answer all contacts. Or read more TOS Homeschool Crew reviews here.
The e-book I received, Sue Patrick's Workbox System Users Guide is available on her website for $19. If you would like to see all of the products that Sue Patrick offers, check out the products page of her website here. As a matter of fact, check out her entire website. Once you've purchased her book, you have unlimited access to her free downloads which help you implement the workbox system in your homeschool. All you have to do is register your purchase on the website and you get access to the downloads that help you bring the workbox system into your home.