Why You Need Independent Work Systems · Mrs. P’s Specialties


Our students need to be able to work on their own without constant feedback or prompting. Using independent work systems with students teaches them critical life skills and school readiness skills. Here are 5 reasons why you need to start using this classroom system now.

Here are 5 reasons why you should be using independent work systems or stations in your classroom. While teaching students to use these systems is very beneficial for them, it will also benefit you!

When students are able to use independent work systems, it allows you to work with other students, send paras on breaks and individualize practice.

build independence & reduce prompt dependence

We have all had those students in our class who aren’t able to (or won’t) do a task without the same prompts every time. They wait for a prompt to get started, to continue, etc. To be truly functional in the community, we need to reduce this dependency on prompts.

That’s where independent work systems come in. These systems are perfect for teaching students to work on their own for longer and longer periods of time. Research suggests that using this system reduces the amount of adult prompts students need and that they were able to maintain the reduction in prompting!

I can tell you… the results I see in my classroom line up with this research. My students are able to work without support, reinforcement, etc. for longer periods of time. In fact, independent work stations are a favorite time of the day for many of my students.

Independent Work systems build in review of skills

Our students often require review of mastered skills in order to maintain the skill. It can be hard to build in all of this review while targeting all of the other skills we need to address.

No problem! A review of mastered skills is naturally built into independent work systems. When you choose which work to put in the work stations, choose skills or activities students have already mastered. The focus is on learning to work independently, so we use mastered work.

As students master the math skills in the math units bundle, we move the varied math tasks that are included in the unit over to the independent work systems.

Examples of math tasks from the math units bundle that you can use in independent work systems

Working alone without reinforcement

Just like we need to reduce prompts, we need to reduce constant reinforcement or feedback. Students need to be able to sustain attention to the task without reinforcement (tangible or verbal). Independent work systems helps to teach students this important life skill.

In vocational systems, students will be expected to complete a task without someone there cheering them on or giving them encouragement. Students learn how to accomplish this skill while in their supportive classroom.

Independent Work systems target generalization

Students need to practice skills in a variety of ways… across materials, settings, people, etc. This is a great benefit of independent work stations. Students work on mastered skills in different ways.

This generalized or varied practice will help students be able to actually use the skill in whatever situation they need to. Grab the theme units bundle to have leveled and engaging tasks at your fingers all year long!

Examples of theme based independent work tasks

build confidence In Students

Independent work systems teach students that they can work on their own… that they’re capable and able. Having this confidence boost will help students take more risks and believe in themselves.

Resources For Independent Work Stations

Here are resources to help you start using task bins or independent work systems.

Example of some of the tasks you can get free by signing up for the free resource library.
  • Use the tasks in the Theme Units Bundle to keep independent work tasks fun and engaging. They’re an easy way to always have relevant materials at your fingertips when you are planning on what to assign students.
  • For math tasks, we use materials from the math units bundle. The tasks are already differentiated and leveled for you, so it saves you time. The tasks are already varied, so you can easily target generalization, too.
  • When we are targeting reading based skills, we use the hands-on and leveled tasks from the reading units bundle.
  • Check out this post on increasing the rigor in task boxes or independent work systems.
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