Our Story (Part 1 of 4)
After so much thinking, praying, and writing I had decided to start a one-room schoolhouse. (You can read my reasons here.) I was over the moon with excitement, but I had no idea how to begin. This is what I learned during my one-room schoolhouse journey.
My accreditation experience
Previously, I had taken a school from an old house to a fully accredited private school. That process went so well, that at the accreditation visits, the supervisor asked if I would accompany him on other such visits. On these visits, I saw a wide variety of schools with varying degrees of readiness for accreditation.
These experiences taught me that accreditation does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that a school is a quality educational organization. A school can have the lowest level of accreditation approval and the general public would have no idea unless they did a lot of research. Furthermore, colleges would have no idea either, unless a very curious admissions officer did a lot of Googling!
The schools that fall at these lowest levels are NOT quality educational organizations. I would never recommend ANYONE attend these schools. The curtain had been pulled back on accreditation and I knew it was not something I wanted to deal with!
I wanted something different for my one-room schoolhouse. I did not want to jump through someone else’s hoops to design an educational program. But, if not standard accreditation, WHAT?
A religious school wouldn’t work as I had no sponsoring church, nor did I want to lock myself into a specific denomination. A charter school had so many state regulations that it gave me flashbacks to the accreditation experience. Hum….
My first inspiration
I was on my weekly Friday trip to library storytime with my kids when inspiration grabbed me. In the new release display, something caught my eye: Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education by Susan Wise Bauer.
I checked out this book and devoured it. It spoke to every one of my concerns about public education! (I talked about my concerns in this post.) After feeling completely validated, I read the chapters on educational choice. A new idea was presented: a hybrid school.
What is a hybrid school?
Simply stated: a hybrid school is a mix of other types of educational models. This is a very new, cutting edge school model. It melds the best of private, character, public and homeschool together.
Example of hybrid models…
- In most states, according to state law, your child is a homeschool student.
- The student attends for some of their academic instruction.
- Some hybrids do a half-day in the classroom and a half-day at home.
- Other hybrids do a partial week in the classroom and the rest at home.
- Even others offer a whole week of classroom instruction with the parents actively participating in the hybrid on a regular schedule.
- Hybrids are often set up as nonprofit homeschool support groups to avoid heavy state regulations.
- They do charge tuition but rates usually lower than private schools due to less time being spent at the hybrid and significant volunteerism.
- Hybrids often are centered around a specific educational model, homeschool philosophy, or religious denomination.
After reading about this option, I knew that this was the structure I wanted to use for my one-room schoolhouse. Finally, I had the general structure, but I had no idea HOW!
How do you start a hybrid?
I started by doing what any modern mom does: I turned to Google. I found a few hybrid schools in my home state of Pennsylvania. Next, I started emailing and calling some of them. I received so much valuable advice from these educational pioneers. I will forever be in their debt.
One of the best pieces of advice I got was to check out HomeschoolCPA run by Carol Topp, CPA. This website is full of information for the homeschool support group! Furthermore, Carol Topp has published four e-books that I would highly recommend.
Below are some of the resources I found most useful on HomeschoolCPA:
- Under the Recourses tab, start by clicking on Articles. The tab even says start here. This is great beginner information to get your feet wet in the process.
- Next, visit Checklist under the same tab. This will take you through the three phases of setting up any homeschool support group.
- The third click down under Recourses is a goldmine! The sample documents will help you write up all the important legal supports for starting your group.
- The FAQ tab is also very helpful. Many of my burning questions were answered here!
- Also, check out HomeschoolCPA’s blog, podcast, and videos. These have been so useful to our group.
- Finally, Carol Topp offers her professional services. These consultations can be priceless!
Armed with this information, I had a basic game plan for starting a one-room schoolhouse. My to-do list looked something like this:
- Start a nonprofit homeschool support group. (see this post)
- Select a curriculum and clarify educational philosophy. (IE: work out all the millions of logistics!) (see this post)
- Find people who are crazy enough to join me in this process. (see this post)
With that list, I started my journey. Three easy steps! (right….) Each of these steps had ten or more sub-steps, which became overwhelming at times.
Expect some potholes…
My journey was not without potholes. When I began I had three children, aged three and under. Then I got pregnant with child number four about half-way through the process. At that point, I had to put the whole project on hold while a barfed for a few months due to severe morning sickness.
Many people thought I was nuts. The paperwork was totally overwhelming. I often thought about how much easier it would be to just put my kids in public school or just homeschool!
However, as I write this, I am very near checking all three items off my to-do list. The dream is in sight. And yes, it has been totally worth it!
Let me hear from you!
In the next few posts, I will talk in detail about the three steps of starting a one-room schoolhouse. First up, I will write about starting a homeschool support group. After that, I’ll tackle choosing an educational philosophy and curriculum. Finally, I will write about engaging other people in this process.
In the meantime, click over to our hybrid overview. I would love to know what you think about our model!
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Melanie Berry says
I want to start a one room schoolhouse. Are there any legal/government issues that I will run into?
So many things to think of! Feel free to contact me for more details. The biggest thing to work on is getting set up at a 501c3. I am hoping in the near future, we will be ready to offer more services for people like you that want to start a schoolhouse!
Hi there! I just had my first baby a couple weeks ago and have already started thinking about schooling… I have an interesting situation as I live on my husband’s grandparent’s farm that actually has an old one room schoolhouse on the property. It closed in the 50s but for years now I thought how amazing it would be to re-open it! I’ve considered homeschooling, but I’ve always loved the idea of a one room schoolhouse and moving here 8 years ago, it’s been on my mind since. The structure obviously would need a bunch of updates, but I found this site to figure out the schooling side…!!
Oh my goodness! You are living my dream life! What a blessing. Please, let’s start a schoolhouse on your farm. We can help you do it! What state are you in?
Ahhh I am SO happy to have found your blog! Although I’m on the other end of the world (in South Africa) I have just finished renovating up part of my husbands old calf shed on our family dairy farm. Things work a little differently here (I wish it was as simple as the steps laid out in setting out a 501c3…so that is something I will be continually working on from a legal aspect) but I am so excited to get started next year (I have 4 kids joining my own 2) and now I just need to figure out the steps in actually forming my day 🙂 I look forward to reading more from you and following along in your journey! xx
I wish you the best on your journey. Keep us updated.
Tammy Clark says
I am a grandmother with my last teenage son living at home. So being in an almost empty nest state why has my heart been called to goggle “one room school house”?
I was thinking about when I homeschooled my children in the 1990s it was often overwhelming and my fear was that they would not be educationally prepared for life or college. They were blessed and are all happy, well-adjusted adults raising families of their own.
I have been entrusted with caring for one of my 4 year old grandchild while.her parents work and do not want her learning to be spent in the local public school sysyem. I’ve looked at private and christian schools but being stuck to a donimination is not what we desire. So I am here to thank you for all your information I will be digging in for future generations of my family and others in our rural community.