Friday, September 24, 2010

The Comeback of the One-Room schoolhouse


As another summer comes to an end and fall lingers just around the corner, all teachers both at home or in the traditional classroom are faced with the daunting task of going back to school. This year our homeschool like many others had reached a point of growth when I had more than one child needing my attention. And the question I asked myself, as so many others have asked, ‘How can I do this?’
            I spent months during the previous spring reading and researching on the topic, and I kept coming back to the same idea whether from talking to fellow homeschoolers, or reading articles and books on the subject—The One-Room Schoolhouse.
Really there is nothing cutting edge about this idea. It’s as old as American education—next to homeschooling that is. I just had to figure out a way to format my homeschool into the old fashioned one-roomed school house. Over a hundred and fifty years ago, the common method of schooling took place in a one-roomed schoolhouse. President Herbert Hoover, Alan B. Shepherd the first American in space and even Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales were all educated in a one-roomed school house. Obviously, they went on to achieve much. The practice must have its merits.
The main tenant of the one-room school house is to have all your children in one place and educate them all at once. That means you can schedule certain subjects like Bible, History, Science and even handwriting together. Then you schedule other subjects separately but in a way that keeps everyone busy. For instance, my oldest son does math on his own using a DVD system. While he’s busy with that, I teach my younger son phonics and reading. When I’m holding spelling lessons with one, the younger one is looking at a library book on his desk or using the chalkboard to phonetically spell words he’d read that week in his reading book.
For me, the main problem with teaching two children simultaneously is that my sons are six years apart. How do you teach a first grader at the same time as a seventh grader? The answer—careful planning. Luckily for me, middle school is my forte. I taught it for several years before deciding to stay home and homeschool my own kids. Six years later, here I am teaching my own son those same history lessons.
Many homeschooling families have come up against this dilemma—how do I homeschool multiple children?  In fact, most of the families I’ve interacted with have three, six, nine children at home. What many of them end up doing is combining subjects and grades as much as they can and just adjusting the work for each level. They have older ones working with the younger ones. This not only frees you up to work with other children, but it also ensures that your older child really does understand the information as well as instructs your younger child. It’s a win-win.
If you’ve found that you are running around the house from child to child and are exhausted at the end of the day, the kids hate school and are working far too many hours the answer might be to set up your own one-roomed school house. In the end I found my kids loved it, I loved it and God is blessing our school.

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