We opened the schoolhouse in the Fall of 2018 and over the past five years it's been incredible to see what it's become. To get be part of the lives of the children and families who’ve attended the school and so many beautiful memories that have been made here, in an unusual learning environment.
But as wonderful as the school has been, the biggest question we constantly get asked is "how can my child go to your school?" And unfortunately since our model has been to be a one-room schoolhouse, much like they were in days of old, and classroom and enrollment is small, we have tried to keep right at around a dozen children. And although it’s worked well and I think all the children have thrived and loved going to school there—especially Indiana, which of course is how the school came to be in the first place (your can read that story here and here)—it has always been hard to turn people away and have to tell them “I’m sorry but we’ve already got our twelve children for the year..."
So I’m excited that starting in the New Year, we are opening the school up to lots more children.
We began that first year as a preschool, with a dozen students, and no experience being a school, but excited to be learning with the children as we went along. Indy was only four-years-old when the school opened the doors for the first time in September 2018…
Although the kids still say the pledge every morning and start the day with prayer, our little school, like our farm and the vision we have for it, has continued to evolve. From the idea of ‘home’ schooling one little girl…to building a school at home for many children in our community to come to. From a drawing of a single one-room schoolhouse at the farm...
To an actual wholly-integrated farm school today with livestock the children care for and gardens they tend. A place where the real classroom is outside the doors of the school and everyone is a teacher, with something important to offer the children...
Our hearts have always been to help and be a blessing to as many people as possible, without losing what makes the school so special, in the process. From day one, we’ve been using the phrase "the one-room schoolhouse the whole world can fit in,” and we’ve always done our best through videos, pictures, and stories we’ve shared about life and learning at the schoolhouse, to be as inspiring and encouraging as possible to lots more than just the twelve little ones who go to the school each day. Believing that, even if our physical footprint is small and has limitations, our digital footprint and opportunity online to share a positive story could be limitless. In September of 2020, we even live-streamed our classroom for a month into people's homes for an hour each day, just to try to be a blessing for children and parents all around the world who's schools were closed during the pandemic.
All of that is part of what has led us to make a change at the beginning of the year. Instead of a five-day a week regular school of only twelve students that mixes in some homesteading classes with their regular book learning, we’re working to become a school open to all children, that specializes in homesteading classes and the learning of homemaking, traditional crafts, and skills that have been largely lost by culture today. What classes we’ll offer, what days and times they’ll be, what they’ll cost, how parents can sign their kids up for them, etc… are all to be figured out in the coming weeks and months. It’ll take some time to get it together.
We’re hoping that by March, many of the new classes will begin. And as they’re announced, people from all over can sign their children up for one, or for a series of classes. We think we’ll be able to be a blessing to hundreds of kids by the time the official school year ends in June. Who knows, we may even continue to host classes all the way through the summer, for parents and children who aren’t able to attend during the school year. Here’s just a small list of the types of categories of classes that we will be considering.
We live on a historic farm and homestead and are personally passionate about learning how to grow our own food and most of the things on the list ourselves. So it only makes sense for the school to be part of that passion.
The goal for the school is to become a place where wonderful instructors from all around the area are brought in to teach classes that most people don’t have the opportunity to learn anymore… especially children.
Of course, change is scary and as we begin walking down this new education path, we'll miss our everyday interaction with the children who are here now, and with their parents. There have been a number of families that have come and gone since the school first opened, for various different reasons. We’ve had some kids that have been with us since the beginning and others that only started with us a few months ago. It's disappointing for them, and for us to know we won't all be together every day anymore. But it's also incredibly exciting to think about all the new people that they, and we, might get to meet and learn from in the years to come.
One of the most difficult parts for me personally of course, is Indiana. She loves going to school and will miss seeing her friends every day. But in the end, I think the change is going to be really good for her, education wise, and even more so, as a little one who is getting bigger, and brighter (she's almost ten, which is hard for me to believe), so the opportunity for more one-on-one attention will be especially good for her, and it will be good for me too.
For the past five years, as a private Christian school with children ranging in age from 6 to 11 years old, the kids here have learned from a homeschool curriculum called “The Good and The Beautiful,” which Indiana will continue on. She’s in 4th grade and her home-schooling will still continue in the early mornings at the schoolhouse, and when we begin hosting lots of different homesteading and traditional skill classes at the school, she’ll get to participate in many of those, and get to make lots of new friends, which she will absolutely love. Not to mention that for the first time, she’ll also have the opportunity to enroll in some outside classes during the daytime that she’s not been able to do before (she wants to learn more dance and music at the Annie Moses School of Music).
In the coming months, we'll share more about the new classes, pricing and scheduling at the school. In the meantime, keep our little schoolhouse in your prayers as we work to open our doors a little wider.
P.S.: here's a sweet little recap video 'through the years' at the schoolhouse, so far....