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Dame School and Beyond

Both young girls and boys attended dame school where they learned to read and write. The schools were often in the teacher's kitchens. Children would use a book called a hornbook to help them learn. When they learned their hornbook they were ready to graduate.

When a boy graduated dame school they would then move on to a higher level of school. Girls learned to cook and weave and raise a family.  Their education might be continued at home.

The schools the boys attended were uncomfortable and very cold in the winter. The families of the boys who went to school had to pay the schoolmaster, and every day the boys had to bring firewood for the fire. If a boy forgot the wood, he would have to sit in the coldest part of the room. 

Paper was expensive so boys would have to write on the bark of a tree. The only schoolbook they used was called the New England Primer. This book had prayers, questions, and answers about God. There were also had rhymes for each letter of the alphabet. When the boys head learned the New England Primer they were ready to go to a new school, and some were even ready for college. After they knew the New England Primer most boys just stopped school and went to work instead. 

Schools in colonial times were strict. If children did not behave, the schoolmaster might strike a student with a birch branch. Some who didn't do their lessons were dunce, and  had to wear a dunce cap and sit on a dunce stool. 

If they didn't listen to the school master they might have to wear a card that said "idle boy." If you were caught biting your nails, you would have to wear a card that said, " bite finger baby.


 
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