Our Homeschool

Workbaskets and Table-Time

A post today about our workbaskets

(now called Table Time.)

I’ve mentioned already that I think ideally children should be free to choose their own schoolwork from among many great options, but that in order to prepare my children for eventually entering public school, I do choose some of their work for them.

Sue Patrick is a homeschooling mom who has marketed a whole system for putting all of a child’s work into 12 drawers each week-day, and calls it the Workbox System.

In the past, I have used instead a simple basket with a check-list of 3-5 assignments, and I called them “suggestions” that were highly recommended and could be completed in any order, at any pace, in any location.  The child was not punished if he did not get these assignments finished, but as long as we established a good routine, and I was present and attentive to the child, and distractions were minimized, that rarely happened.

Some of these assignments included one-on-one activities that the children enjoyed doing, but independently would not choose – such as reading aloud short stories.  Workbasket work was just one small part of what we did each school-day.

I take seriously my duty to observe the children at all of their work, and brain-storm better ways for them  to learn any material they may be currently resisting.  Take spelling, for example.  If the child shows resistance, could a different program be substituted?  Does he just need to take a week off?  Could the child spell the words out-loud instead of writing them, or use a movable alphabet?  Are the words too easy or boring, or is the child coming down with a cold?  Brain-storm with the child. Explain that you think it is important for him to learn how to spell words, but is there something you could change to make it more enjoyable?  Consider creative rewards for the words spelled correctly.

If you would like to see an example of the small checklists I used to print out for the children’s workbaskets, click here.

For the 2012/2013 school-year, I made some great changes for my family. 

Each week-day morning, we still begin with the two most important things:

Then, 24 weeks of the school-year we follow our meeting with studying our Classical Conversations material.

This is followed by what we are calling “table time.”  This is seat-work I store in baskets for each child.  My 4th-grader does his work independently in a room by himself (to limit distractions):

…while I sit at the dining room table with my 1st and 2nd graders doing:

  • Italic Handwriting (Level B for first grade, Level C for second)
  • Building Spelling Skills (First and Second Grades)
  • Writing With Ease (Level 1 for first and second grades)
  • First Language Lessons (Level 1 for first and second grades)

(My pre-schooler spends this time doing a Montessori activity or free-play.)

After “table time” is over, then I do one-on-one work with each child, oldest to youngest, in a room by ourselves.  The other children have independent work time (a.k.a. free time) and understand that they are not to interrupt me unless it’s really important.  This set-up is new for us, and it only works because I no longer have a baby or toddler in the house needing constant supervision.  The one-on-one work consists mostly of:

Also, with my oldest:

  • First Language Lessons (Level 3)
  • Writing With Ease (Level 3)
  • IEW Ancient History Based Writing Lessons (I stopped using this after the first few weeks, it involved more writing than he was ready for.  We’ll save it for another year.)


We break for lunch!

With tea-time each afternoon, I try to add the following:

(The history and science notebook pages are available free for download here.)

Free time follows.  Computer-time or videos are not permitted unless all of the work (listed above) is complete.  This is not my ideal system, but it is gentle and kept to a minimum, and I need to do it to prepare my children for entering public school down the road.

Here are some other notebook pages we have used:

[button link=”https://helpingchildrenlearn.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/latin.pdf” style=”download” color=”silver”]Latin Notebook Page[/button]

[button link=”https://helpingchildrenlearn.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/spelling.pdf” style=”download” color=”silver”]Spelling Page[/button]

[button link=”https://helpingchildrenlearn.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/math.pdf” color=”silver”]Math Facts[/button]


One thought on “Workbaskets and Table-Time

  1. Thanks for sharing this!

    I have a very similar philosophy about wanting to offer my son choices within structure.

    I also have a Homeschooling Blog called Beyond Gold Stars, and I share the menu of Word Word (spelling) activities that I offer my son. I include a lot of free printables on the blog.

    I see that you’re using a workbook curriculum, but since you described wanting to consider other fun ways to learn spelling like the moveable alphabet, I wanted to offer this to you as a resource just in case. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s