How We Workbox ~ Part 3 (Ditching the Plan)

If you missed Part 1 of this series you can find it here

Don’t know what workboxes are?  Check out this link.


In July I began my planning for the 2011-12 school year but before I started searching for curriculum I attempted an honest assessment of the previous year. What had worked and what hadn’t.  I applied the 80/20 rule to help me focus on what deserved our time and what was just fluff.

Resetting tags and schedule strips, creating and maintaining learning centers and waiting stations, as well as being a slave to the notion that all 12 boxes must be filled every day had consumed most of my time.   In addition to these I realized that my detail oriented personality had been a significant part of the planning time problem.

What?!?  I was part of the problem?  Surely not!

But it was true.  I had wanted every detail of every box planned out in advance for the entire week.  Then when interruptions happened ~ as they inevitably would ~ my whole plan had to be completely re-vamped before we could continue.  Translated that meant I spent a lot more time planning than doing.  I even spent some time preparing lessons that we never used ~ more time wasted.  And to top it all off, the combinations of lessons I planned were complicated.  (book 1 on Monday, book 2 on Tuesday, back to book 1on Wednesday, project on Thursday, back to book 2 on Friday)  This meant that most every box had to be refilled from scratch every day.

What I needed were books that planned themselves: base materials that would remain in the boxes for long periods of time.  That would eliminate all the switching and refilling.  But what about the fun?!  The same books day after day would get boring.

What I really needed were books that wouldn’t get boring because we’d only use them as written when I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare special projects but otherwise we would use them as jumping off points for further exploration.

Okay, so now I’d established that I needed non-boring curriculum that planned itself, which sounds like crazy talk but actually it was an epiphany.  A strange little stirring began in my soul and let me tell you that even though this post is supposed to be about workboxes it’s also about God and about the every day minutia of our lives that He uses to speak to us.  My workboxes were in trouble because I planned way too much.  I hadn’t yet discovered a way to be flexible and follow the flow of each day.  My life was in the exact same situation.

Scripture directs us to acknowledge God in “all our ways” and then it goes on to say that if we do that “He will direct our paths” but this whole problem I had of planning every detail, it totally cut God out of the picture.  It said, “Don’t worry, Lord.  I’ll cut this path myself.  Why don’t you go find someone who really needs your help?  I’m good here.”  But in reality, I wasn’t good ~ far from it.  Because while the paths we cut ourselves may seem okay, God’s paths are always better.

So when I had this epiphany about non-boring curriculum that planned itself for our workboxes I heard that still small voice say, “You need that for your life too.”  And I knew exactly what He meant.  The Bible would be my base but the part that would keep life interesting and make it fun was acknowledging God and being flexible enough to follow His voice.

Like all epiphanies the idea came before the practice and in regards to the whole “minimal planning” idea I needed a LOT of practice and it started with the workboxes.

to be continued ….