One Room Schoolhouse Approach

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By Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

Even with all ages under one roof, there are ways to have everyone on the same page, so to speak.  And wouldn’t it simplify your life to have some common ground?

One way is to study from topics- not from text books. Then everyone learns about the topic at their own level. For example, studying volcanoes. The youngest kids can learn about lava, magma and the parts of a volcano and then make a model in clay or papier mache or draw a picture. Older kids can watch a documentary about how scientists monitor volcanoes and predict eruptions. Everyone can look through a picture book of volcanoes around the world.

This same approach can be used to study the weather. Youngsters can record daily weather (is it sunny? Cloudy? Raining?) and older kids can record temperatures, barometric readings, and wind speed and direction. Your library will have books for younger students about exploring the weather and higher level books for older students. The magic schoolbus has a weather episode, and there are documentaries that go more in depth for advanced study. You’ll also find lots of fun projects to explore for all ages.  

With math skills- everyone can sit around the table and pass along a pair of dice. A younger child can shake the dice and then announce what that shake adds up to. A correct answer gets the child a poker chip (a handy way to keep score of accurate answers). Maybe the next child is working on multiplication facts. So she shakes the dice and announces the total when those 2 numbers are multiplied. A still older child can take a turn and create a fraction with their dice and then correctly give the answer to doubling that fraction. Whatever math process is being studied, the child performs that function and gives the answer to receive a poker chip. After several rounds, the child with the most poker chips is the winner. With this format, even the littlest family members can sit beside an older child and simply be the designated dice shaker.

With any kind of writing assignment (compose a story of what the world will be like when you are a grandparent), the smallest kids can draw pictures and dictate captions for them. Older kids can write and illustrate their work. But everyone can tackle a similar topic and share their completed work in a family book reading.

Public speaking, or “show and tell”, is a great forum for each child to present a topic or teach a skill to others. Whether it is explaining about the needs and care of a pet or showing how to fold a paper airplane, an origami demonstration, or an explanation of water filtration, each child can be involved at the level they are able and showcase their skill or topic.

Spelling practice can be more enjoyable for everyone, and get the family outside for some fresh air if the alphabet is laid out on the sidewalk or driveway like a giant computer keyboard. Then each child has to hop the letters in the correct order to spell out their words. Mom or Dad can call out words from that child’s spelling list from the sidelines. You can either take turns with each word, or each child continues to spell their words until they make a mistake. Then it’s the next child’s turn.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to spend more time with everyone engaged on the same topic. There is so much in our world that will pull us in different directions, I think it’s important to find the activities and interests that will pull our families together.