More Organizing Ideas For School Assignments

Organizing mountains of school assignments . . . ugh.  Take a peek at how I learned how to organize school work –

Weeks and weeks ago my husband acquired some plastic bins with locking lids–six of them, one for each kid.  He thought they’d be perfect to keep their school work in.  I said, “yeah, yeah” and stuck the bins in the basement for safe keeping.  I already had a no-work system wherein we just stuck all workbooks and text books in a single bin and set that bin out on the table and I told them each day what they needed to do.  It has worked for us for nearly ten years, right?

The Workbox System

Then I came across the homeschool organization system by Sue Patrick called the Workbox System.  I wanted it.  But I did not want 72 boxes (12 boxes for each of six kids) sitting, I knew not where.  So I improvised with my six already-in-my-possession boxes.

I purchased colorful paper file folders, eight for each child.  In Sue’s system she uses twelve subjects per child per day, many of those subjects fun or very short, but I chose to keep it down to eight.

The kids are told to do the assignments in order, beginning with with file folder #1 and proceeding to folder #8.  In each file folder are all the materials they need to complete the assignment, saving them time and keeping us from scrambling all over the house looking for scissors or glue when we should be getting down to our work.

Each of the boxes has a permanent supply of pencils, crayons or colored pencils, calculators for the older boys and scissors and glue for my pre-schooler.

I put math (including manipulatives, rulers, calculators, etc), spelling, phonics, journals, science, multiplication flash cards, and stuff like that into the files.

But I also put in a 15 min break, a snack, a math game, and fun stuff like that scattered through the harder work.

When the kids are done with the contents of their file they put their completed work, their text book, their reading book, whatever into a milk crate we have sitting out for that purpose.  Everybody’s stuff into one crate.

When they are done with their day, their files are empty and my crate(s) is full.  They line their work boxes up on our big chest freezer which resides in the schoolroom.

Now I go through the contents of the crate one by one, checking work and reloading the files for the next day.  It takes me about half an hour a day to check through six kids work and reload their boxes.  Learning how to organize school work has taught me how to help them organize our whole day.

The Benefits

  • I can control the order in which my kids do their subjects, mostly making sure math is done early.
  • I can control my own workload somewhat by attempting to schedule mom-intensive assignments at different times for different kids.
  • My kids have never had a planned recess break before and they love it.
  • The eight files remind me to keep their workload reasonable and also remind me to stick fun stuff in there, since they don’t actually have eight academic subjects each day.
  • The kids know exactly how much work they have to complete and how much more they have left.
  • The kids are staying on task mostly on their own.  They move smoothly from one assignment to the next.
  • It’s made me pay attention to my pre-schooler who was being neglected because of course he wants a box too and I must fill it and complete it with him.
  • I have to plan ahead and be prepared, which means we have science experiments with all the stuff and aren’t scrambling or skipping it because now I’m too stressed to deal.
  • I’m keeping up with checking their work daily, which I have always struggled to do.  Having it all in one crate at the end of the day means I can can just go through things one-by-one and not have to dig it out of so-and-so’s desk or remember that Mr. Lazy was supposed to be doing his Latin exercises.
  • We’re actually getting more done earlier, even my dawdling boy, just because of organization.


  1. How do you know how long each kid is going to take for each thing so that you can schedule it so that each child gets time with mom? Are there subjects that some of them do together? I think this is a good idea. It sounds like a lot of work for you, and expensive to get that many supplies. I don’t know how you do 6 kids’ boxes in a half hour. That is amazing! Maybe it is my only 1 year of homeschooling my 5 that makes me so Id’ be much slower. Thanks. I’ll try it sometime.

    1. The only thing I bought aside from the school books was the file folders. I repurposed some bins we already had. If you don’t have anything like that, look at dish washing bins. They’re only a couple of dollars each. They don’t have a lid, but you don’t need a lid.

      I don’t know how long each kid will take. I just schedule math first for a couple of them and math much later for the others. Math is definitely the subject they all need the most help with. At the time I wrote this post we didn’t do any subjects together, but as of right now we do scripture study first thing together in the morning and then we go on to our subject-of-the-day which is history on Monday, geography on Tuesday, science on Wed, and arts on Thursday. Friday we do school but it’s shorter because we don’t have a subject-of-the-day which leaves us time for our co-op friends. The scripture study combined with subject-of-the-day takes us about an hour. Then they have three hours to get grammar, math, reading, and writing done.

      The first few days it may take longer than a half hour to check their work, but you’ll get good at it. I lay their boxes out in a long row on the counter and take one thing out of the crate at a time, flipping the book open to see if they did it. I don’t check for correctness all the time, just completion. I’m sitting there at the table working with them so I know pretty well (though not a daily basis) if they’re understanding their work. Then I just stick the notebook or workbook back into one of the file folders in that kid’s box and grab the next thing out. Last I put in newly printed worksheets, maps to complete, or reading books for the next day.

      Give it a good solid try for a month before you give up on it. The first few days may be sticky. My kids loved it right off because they could see exactly what work they had and how much more there was. I like it because I check their work regularly, which keeps them from slacking off and because I don’t forget stuff we should be doing like vocab or math facts, the little things that fall between the cracks.

    1. You could have the child replace the workbook in the folder he or she got it out of, but I don’t because I want to check the work. I find if I don’t check my kids work on some level fairly consistently they begin to slide. They stop doing a good job, then they stop doing it at all. People, including adult people, work best with some kind of accountability system. My accountability system in this equation is the full crates of books I have to check. There it sits, I must deal. It keeps me doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

      The other reason is because then I can see how close to done my kids are by glancing at their box and also they feel like an empty box is an accomplishment.

      Then too, I try to mix up the order of the assignments in their folders so it’s interesting and not same old same old for them each day. I would be having to take the workbooks, etc and move them anyway.

  2. We have tried the other work box system with the drawers and it just didn’t work very well for us. Thank you so much for posting this alternative idea! We have used it and it works so much better. I love that there’s no going back and forth (since our drawers had to be in a different room from where they worked), and they love that all their work is in one place and that they can bring it with them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *