One-Room Schoolhouse

By: Emily Tepera

The Building and Furnishings

Most of the one room schoolhouses had a simple structure and were small buildings that only included one room. They were made of sod and didn't have air conditioning. The majority of schoolhouses did not include a bathroom. Inside, some students were lucky enough to have handmade desks to work at. At most one-room schoolhouses there was a picture of George Washington and/or Abraham Lincoln. Some children had their classes in a basement to be able to fit everyone in to the structure. School houses were build in the country. Many were built on hills so everyone could see them and they were built so that the entire community could have some what easy access to it. The community needed easy access to it because not only did it serve as a school but also as a church and a place for parties.


To complete their assignments students used slates as paper. As a pencil they used slate pencils. The single teacher usually had no maps, pictures, charts, or books. Because the schools did not have a cafeteria for the kids to buy food or to eat in they usually brought their own lunch and water and ate in the classroom.


The majority of teachers did not have formal training. Teachers could start at the age of 17 if they wanted to and could be right out of schooling. Because the teacher did not have formal training the students helped teach each other. They were single, attended church and sometimes lived with a family in which the children went to the school she taught at. Sometimes the teachers would even sleep in the same room or bed as the students they were living with. The teachers were responsible for everything that went on at the schoolhouse. They were required to teach every subject so they were the math teacher, reading teacher, writing teacher, music teacher, and art teacher. They would plan and teach the lessons as well as discipline students if they needed to do so. In a few cases teachers would only stay at a school for a few weeks while other teachers stayed for multiple years. Teachers were in charge of the six to forty students that attended each school.

A Normal School Day

Students were expected to walk to school and get there on time. The teacher would ring a bell to tell the students that it was time for school to start. Before school started the kids would run around the school house and hang out with their friends. To start the school day the would say the pledges and sing a patriotic song. Considering most of them were immigrants they would sing the national anthem of the country they were from. In the morning they would cover a subject and go over a lesson that the teacher planned. Sometimes covering two or three subjects in the morning because the teachers were not educated enough to teach a long lesson. After finishing up a lesson or lessons the students would eat lunch. The kids were expected to bring their own lunch and water. Most of them carried their lunches in a pail. Then there would be a time set aside for recess. There was not much adult supervision during recess because the teacher was usually inside cleaning the school house. Many times children were hurt or bullied during this time. They did not have much equipment so they had to play with what they had. In the afternoon, the students would have another lesson or two. They would then start their journey home.

History of the One-Room Schoolhouse

When the one-room schoolhouse was created they had clear cut goals. The teachers focused on intellectual and social skills. Not only was it a place to educated children but it created a sense of community. The Christmas program was the biggest event of the year and the end of the school year followed close behind. Not all children had the opportunity to attend school. Girls were sometimes expected to stay home to help their mother with chores and guys were suppose to help on the farm.

Problems in the Schoolhouse

The one-room schoolhouse had lots of problems too. There was no curriculum and because students of all ages were together they did not learn at their own level and pace. The schoolhouse had students for ages five to fifteen. Another problem was that some students that were immigrants did not speak English. Attendance was not consistent either which meant students would fall behind. The schools did not have a good library to let the students practice their reading skills. Also the schoolhouses were very unsanitary.

Would I Attend A One-Room Schoolhouse?

I think I would have liked attending a one-room schoolhouse. The main reason I would like it is because they didn't have much homework. Even though they didn't have many resources you still learned intellectual and social skills and that is what matters.

Random Facts

-Students sometimes had the privilege of listening to radio programs that taught art

-A Tradionalist is someone who believed that the mind is strengthened by frequent exercise

-A Progressive is someone who believed that each child learns differently


"Beyond the One-Room Schoolhouse (1850-1877)." American Eras. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. 21 Sep. 2012.

Slatta, Richard W. "Western frontier life in America." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2012. Web. 21 Sept. 2012.

Country School: One Room, One Nation