The One-Room Schoolhouse

Maggie Hohfeler

Information About the One-Room Schoolhouse

The students of the one-room schoolhouse were mainly the children of farmers, as the schoolhouses were common in the country. Some students were immigrants, and many spoke very little English, which was a challenge for the teacher. Attendance was often voluntary, based on the need at the farm. If the children were needed at the farm, then they would stay home until the work was done. So many students only came to school during the winter term. Students attended school from 1st grade until 8th grade. The school year was divided into terms. Due to the lack of actual books, oral recitation and memorization were what children spent their time with. But students also learned things like morals and patriotism too. The teacher was young, normally 17-18, and right out of high school. They often had very informal training. It wasn't until after the Civil War that formal training for teachers was created. The teacher would board at a nearby house in order to be close to the school. Many times it would be the house of a student that the teacher would stay at.

Description of a One-Room Schoolhouse

The one-room schoolhouse was a simple rectangular building usually made out of blocks of sod or logs. Not until the mid-nineteenth century were stone, brick and siding able to be used on the buildings. Typically the building was 20-30 feet wide, and 30-40 feet long with a roof made out of tin shingles and wood floors. A belfry was placed above the entrance to the school for multiple reasons; to call the children to school, to warn the community of danger, and to ring in holidays and special occasions. The cloakroom was located at the back of the schoolhouse just inside the entrance to hold coats and lunch pails were kept. Along the front of the schoolhouse was a chalkboard which the teacher would use. Not far from the school was the outhouse, which was unsanitary and usually unclean. The room would have a chalkboard, desks for students, the teacher's desk, a stove for heating, and sometimes a record player.

Typical Day in the One-Room Schoolhouse

School usually lasted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Before the students arrived, the teacher would collect firewood to place in the stove for heat and brought in water for drinking and hand washing. Students normally had to walk 2-3 miles to get to school. Once it was time for school the teacher would ring the bell to call students in. They would leave their coats and lunch pails in the cloakroom. The day started with the pledge and the Lord's prayer. Then the lessons would begin. The curriculum was described as the "3 r's"; reading, riting, rithmetic. A teacher had to be skilled in reading, writing and arithmetic, and often much more in all grades. The teacher was also responsible for teaching the students good behavior and manners, often with strict discipline. After an hour lunch break and recess, students would come back in at the sound of the bell. At the end of the day, row by row students were able to leave and head home. This was to practice good behavior, one of the things the one-room schoolhouse focused on.

Works Cited

Hutton, Jennie. "Schoolhouse." Grit 31 Mar. 2002: 27. General OneFile. Web. 27 Sep. 2012.


Newman, Jason. "public education." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2012. Web. 27 Sept. 2012.


"The Late Nineteenth-Century One-Room School ." Heritage All. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012. <www.heritageall.org/docs/teacherResources/ohs/America's%20One-Room%20Schools%20of%20the%201890's.pdf>.


"Schoolhouse, one-room." Image. Indiana Historical Society. American History. ABC-CLIO, 2012. Web. 25 Sept. 2012.


Steffen, Jerome O. "Pioneer life in America." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2012. Web. 25 Sept. 2012.Hutton, Jennie. "Schoolhouse." Grit 31 Mar. 2002: 27. General OneFile. Web. 27 Sep. 2012.