Keeping a One Room Schoolhouse Model As Your Children Get Older

In the last two weeks, we started our second year of junior high with my oldest. We participate in Classical Conversations, so he is in Challenge B. (And I’m his director! First year Challenge director!) Last year it was really important for me to maintain our shared learning environment in some form, even though he was moving on to more advanced and independent studies. I feel the same way this year. A large reason we homeschool is to promote deep parent/ child relations and lasting sibling bonds which we purpose to create through many ways including quality time learning together. Maintaining the opportunity for this throughout our homeschool years is so important to us. He’s growing older, but it’s not quite time for him to grow apart. Therefore, I looked and planned for ways he could connect with me and his siblings during our school day. I’ll share what worked for us last year, and what we plan to do this year.

  1. Breakfast + Bibles: We eat breakfast at the same time together. Everyone makes what they want, and we all sit together for breakfast. All but my youngest are readers, so we each do personal devotions at this time. To close out breakfast, I typically ask them to share what they learned in their readings. I truly believe that we know we can tell, and this is a sweet way for them to begin sharing what God is teaching them.
  2. Morning collective: After cleaning up breakfast, we gather together in the family room. We watch CNN 10 (a student news show), read and pray through a prayer guide for the nations found on and made by Operation World, and complete family devotion time. This year, we are making our way through the Tiny Theologians ABCs of Theology cards and Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson. One day, I read the theology card and we “ponder” its meaning. The second day we “picture” the card by drawing about the word in our blank journals. The third day we “pray” for the truth to take root in our lives. Each day, we recite parts of the Bible verse from the card together to commit it to memory. | Our 24 Family Ways is divided into 5 daily segments, but since we only have four at home school days, we may spread this out over 2 weeks, so we don’t cut it short. Either that, or begin incorporating it during our nightly family devotions, which are led by my husband. We’ll see!
  3. Study an area together. Last year, when my son studied animals for his Challenge assignment, we also studied them for our nature study. This year, he’s studying astronomy for half the year, so we will study astronomy in our nature study time. We’ll take our typical study approach – reading good books, narrating and drawing what we learn, and visiting museums or exhibits.
  4. Read aloud together. This did not work out as planned last year. My Challenge son simply could not put aside the time to sit with us for read-alouds in the afternoon. This year, I’ve decided to use audiobooks in the car so that we can all listen to the same thing. I will still do read-alouds with my younger ones in the afternoon, but this is a way to include him on one consistently. We are doing Story of the World in the car, and hopefully one novel. Not sure yet! I may choose one of his Challenge books for us to listen to together.

Because my 13 year old needs about 5 hours to do his work, fitting all of this in depends on my advanced planning and if I get up and get going in the morning. Nothing like motivation! 🙂

If you have continued in one room schoolhouse style learning as your children have gotten older, I’d love to hear how! Give me all the insider tips. 


(Photo above not really related, but they are all playing Tenzi, which is a really fun dice game they all can enjoy together. Ages 5-13, non-reader & all. Oh & photo by Maeve Photo & Film. She’s amazing & we loved each picture.)

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