Large families make up one of homeschooling’s stereotypes–a line of eight or more children, all following obediently behind Mom and Dad. Those of us who have been homeschooling long know both the truths and the realities of this picture.
The truth is that plenty of families, large or small, find a way to make homeschooling work beautifully for them.
But what about families who only have one child? Is homeschooling really an option for these parents and children?
To find out, let’s take a brief look at the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling an only child.
Looking back throughout history, tutoring was seen as the best type of education a student could receive. A highly respected and successful model of education, it was the method often chosen by the wealthy to educate their own children at home.
Photo by Rick Audet
A teacher/student ratio of one to one is hard to beat–having that amount of personal attention is priceless. It means that much less time is needed to cover academics, leaving hours of time to spend playing, volunteering, or working in a way that is meaningful to the student.
The mother in this video, which I highly recommend, states that she was able to cover her daughter’s entire third grade requirements in less than one month. In her daughter’s case, this meant the extra time could be devoted to her outside interests and socialization opportunities.
For the only child there is no competition, no sibling rivalry, and no time management struggles for Mom trying to stretch herself between multiple children. Time is an abundant gift in an only child homeschool.
I’m sure you can guess the main disadvantage of homeschooling an only child–socialization.
Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt
Those of us who teach more than one child know that the overarching concerns about homeschooling and socialization are more or less unfounded. But would families with just one child be better off enrolling in a traditional school?
Perhaps, but consider this: in a typical classroom much of the day is spent encouraging children to stop socializing. Students are told to raise their hand before talking, stay in their seat, and do their own work without interacting. The actual time spent socializing in a regular school day is minimal–usually revolving around recess, lunch, and occasional group projects.
Helping your child learn to interact appropriately with others is a goal that can easily be met by an intentional parent, especially one who does only have one child and can therefore devote the necessary time to arranging positive social opportunities.
As this helpful post demonstrates, a variety of group lessons, homeschool or church groups, and playdates can meet the social needs and requirements of an only child who is schooled at home. As with any children, their social needs will be determined by their age and personality.
Parents should also remember to let your son or daughter have time to play alone and not try to overcompensate or overschedule your child’s time.
If you’re considering homeschooling your only child, be encouraged. Know that many advantages await you, that you’re in good historical company, and that a home education could be the best choice possible for your son or daughter.
Are you homeschooling or have you homeschooled your only child? Please share your experience with us.