Becoming a one room schoolhouse, is it possible to accomplish this in a modern-day family living room? In my fascination with Charlotte Mason and the Montessori schools of the early 1900’s I began to read the CM volumes. They’re a little pricey. To get all six at once is almost fifty bucks, so I get them one volume at a time. After reading all the companions, with For the Children’s Sake being the best, I decided to learn everything I could from this woman and her life devoted to educating children. And yes, it is possible to homeschool one-room-schoolhouse (ORS) style.
There are subjects that are easy to complete as a family. Because history, science, and reading great literature are subjects all ages can enjoy, we do those together. But what about reading, writing, and math? With the subjects one learned skill builds off of another and with each child beginning at different times and learning at different paces, it can be stressful to maintain a ORS at home. The children had to learn discipline and patience as they each got their one on one time with me. Let me rephrase that, they are learning patience. With Jake, the littlest Duke’s boy not wanting to do anything without my help and encouragement, he has to either wait quietly for me, look through picture book, put together a puzzle, or color while I help Ben understand his math lesson for the day. Once that’s done, Ben completes his lesson with almost no more help from me, and I move on to my middle child. With the middle one, Hunter, being in kindergarten he definitely needs me for the full 15 minutes (what CM Montessori schools recommend for math at his age). Then I send him over to the shelf to get the blocks and rods.
Two great inventions from plastic school toys inventor company are the box of linking cubes and cuisinare rods. I like to let the little ones play for a bit and then begin asking questions like “how many yellow blocks equal one orange?” or “what would three red reds be the same as?”. They think we’re playing and really they are getting math concepts played out on the floor in front of them.
When we practice grammar I follow the same pattern. Help Ben understand the day’s lesson and then move on to Hunter. I like to learn about one concept as a family and then have each child practice learning it on his level. Each child needs to remember to practice patience and find their own way of keeping quiet while I work with the other. It’s amazing how much they “pick up” from each other’s lessons. I have read about women who have kept boxes of toys that are only to be brought out for baby/toddler during school time so mama can work with the older children. If my child couldn’t or wouldn’t quietly play while I worked with the others, I would bring out the toys by the boat load!
Even when we all work on the same subject together, there are different levels of achievement within their capability levels. What I hope for, what is beginning to happen, is that we are forging friendships and I hope they deepen each year. I am a big fan of notebooking and will soon be taking pictures as we notebook our way through Weaver volume 1. I am excited to post them and share them with you guys. I love looking at other families notebooking and lapbooking adventures! Everyone can make a notebook page… it’s a personal page filled with what was discovered and can be as simple or as elaborate as the creator wants it to be.
For years I struggled to get my oldest to write what wanted him to write. The biggest mistake I have ever made in my parenting and homeschooling was to force Ben to try to write a story before he was ready. And then I punished him harshly for not writing a story on demand. To this day we are still working on building back up his confidence in writing. I have taken advice from all those amazing women who have supported me through the years and come up with little techniques of my own as well for helping him to organize his ideas. The one thing I will never do is force him to complete something he is not ready for. My boys work very, very hard and I praise them for what they are brilliant in, not condemn them for what they struggle in. Not everyone learns each skill at the same exact age. He is ahead in every area, except his story writing. I notice the trend as my son Hunter is excellent in math, a great storyteller, but struggles to physically write so I need to jot down all his stories for him. Had this been 4 years ago I would have panicked, punished him, and given him a bad taste in his mouth for ever holding a pencil again.
I have learned that managing a one room schoolhouse is a balance act between relaxing and trusting that my children will learn and maintaining an order of respect for each other’s space to learn. The best part of doing all of this together is that we can help each other, learn from each other, encourage each other, and praise each other. It blesses my heart when one of my children congratulates another and is truly happy for and proud of his achievement. Our ORS is by no means perfect and we work on all sorts of behavior and character issues all the time, but I wouldn’t trade this time together for anything in the world.
I hope you are finding joy in your school house, whatever it may look like.
Thanks for reading,