Homeschooling an Only Child: The Pros and Cons

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.

The Advantages

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.

The Disadvantages

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.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. Excellent points. As a former high school teacher, I can attest to the fact that MUCH of the day was spent trying to stop socializing! LOL. And not all “socializing” is all that good.

    I think many people assume it’s “natural” for large families to homeschool because they couldn’t possibly afford private school for all those children. However, this detracts from the fact that homeschooling can be beneficial to all children and all families, regardless of their size or economics.

  2. Great post! I homeschool an only child and it works well for us. We are blessed with close homeschooling friends for playing with and sharing studies with. There was a time I felt like I needed to fill my son’s time with activities and other people and pretty soon he just asked to stay home and play. We were both relieved.
    .-= Syndi’s last blog: The Miracle CLAW =-.

  3. SoCalLynn says:

    I homeschool my 10 year old daughter, finishing up our fourth year. She is not an only child, but her sister is 14 years older and has lived on her own the last 5 years, so technically she is an only. We have tons of fun together and enjoy a very rich learning environment. She has MANY friends and activities so she never feels alone. In fact there are too many activities and park days and we have to limit them to protect her learning time! I highly recommend homeschooling an only!

  4. Fantastic post. I have four and sometimes really feel spread thin!! On the side, what has been really helpful to me is the differentiation I found here (http://www.secular-homeschooling.com/001/bitter_homeschooler.html) between ‘socialization’ and ‘socializing’ when talking about homeschooled kids:
    “Learn what the words ‘socialize’ and ‘socialization’ mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly.” Small and large family homeschool children can obviously achieve both in different ways. And maybe we should help non-homeschoolers to understand the difference between socializing and socialization too!

  5. I do not have experience with this. But since our youngest is 5.5 years younger than our middle child, I guess we will be homeschooling her all alone for many years. I’m sure it’ll feel entirely different (we’ll probably both really miss her big brother and sister) but it’ll also be good. Different and good :)

  6. My girl is barely a toddler and she will be our only one. Thanks for this article. I am considering homeschooling and this put things in perspective.

  7. Thank you for this article. I have one son with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of Autism. I have struggled with the decision to home school or have him attend public school. Currently he is in kindergarten attending public school. He is very intelligent academically, however he has struggled with the “social” aspects of school. Having Asperger’s he has difficulty with groups and correct social behavior. His world is very literal…black and white… and his play is very scripted. He has a plan in his head how everything should go, therefore creative play with other kids is very difficult.
    We were pressured by many people into thinking that the best thing would be for our son to attend public school so he could get speech, OT, and improve his social behavior. I don’t believe this is the case. This year he has learned more negative behavior…not to mention being the victim of teasing and bullying.
    For worked with my son one-on-one for three years, learning from his speech therapist and OT sessions how to teach and work on skills at home. I don’t know why I thought I couldn’t handle the school age years. Reading your blog for the last several months has helped me realize that I am absolutly qualified to teach my son at home and that it is OK to customize an educational plan that suits his needs individually.

  8. There are other downsides of home schooling a single child:

    Although tutors were considered an excellent form of education, they were people with a specific educational background (although not necessarily a background in education, per se).

    Although the child will get 1:1 attention, he or she will get literally no additional viewpoints. Bad at math? Give a bad explanation of fractions? She’ll never hear questions from another student or an explanation from a peer. It’s a frightening concept.

    • I completely disagree, L. Your comment assumes that the only mentor the child will ever have is a parent, and that is simply not true in the majority of cases.

      There is a huge array of resources available to parents and students–interactive online courses, group homeschooling classes, classes at the community college–just to mention a few.

      There are downsides of any type of educational system, of course–but a parent committed to seeing their child succeed has a huge advantage and desire to seek out whatever is needed for their child.
      .-= Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s last blog: Volunteering is Serious Business =-.

      • In all honesty, it can be really difficult homeschooling an only child. While I don’t spend much of my time defending our decision anymore (our son’s in middle school and we were questioned constantly early on), we do struggle with time to get together with other kids. Sure we have church, sports and lessons, it’s tough to schedule free play time at this age. Kids are so overscheduled and we don’t live in a neighborhood. It’s gotten harder as he’s gotten older. We take it year by year.

        • It’s the free play time that we struggle with too. My son is 9 and our days just the two of us can get long!

  9. Yeah, the concept of home schooling – and, for that matter, traditional schooling – is in a sense entirely dependent on the extracurricular and co-curricular opportunities available to a student. I just think that having more than one formal teacher available presents a more “fault tolerant” system in what I’d call the average case. Obviously the worst case in public and home schooling is abominable.

    • This is from my own experience in traditional schooling. I often had only “one point of view” from my teachers on a specific subject. They explained it one way (over and over the same way even when questioned.) I can remember being told that I asked too many questions because I wanted a more in depth explanation of something. It got to where in some classes my raised hand was ignored more often than not. I often resorted to teaching myself from the textbook because a teacher was a poor explainer (math, chemistry, physics.) My physics teacher was atrocious and to this day I dislike the subject mainly because he made me feel stupid despite ending up with an A in the class. I actually conducted a classroom inside a classroom in my geometry class because half the class didn’t understand the teacher even after lots of questions. When time was given for work, I would re-teach the lesson to those who wanted help.
      A good teacher tries to individualize their teaching methods and explanation to the needs of the student. Unfortunately, there are so many students in traditional schooling and so little time comparatively that that individualization doesn’t happen mostly. I feel like I, as a homeschooling parent, would put forth the effort and time to offer multiple learning methods or view points or what have you if my child needed that extra.
      Homeschooling an only isn’t a perfect solution, but neither is traditional schooling. I feel like there’s a lot of negativity to traditional schooling that many people don’t fully acknowledge.
      Well, my only is currently 26 months so I still have lots of time to decide what would be best for him. I like the idea of homeschooling because I feel like it would be easier to keep learning natural and fun as opposed to the drudgery I felt by the end of my senior year (and I was a great, enthusiastic, honor roll student.)

  10. Thank you for this post. Our son who is 4 is our only child and I have had reservations about homeschooling based on the fact that he is an only child.

  11. I have one child, who I’m currently home-preschooling (he’s 3 1/2). We’re hoping that he’ll have siblings in the future, but for now, I’m enjoying homeschooling just one–I have more time on my hands to spend planning our time together. And I do make sure that he gets plenty of social time. It’s working out well for us so far.
    .-= Andrea’s last blog: Mini Mighty Mind =-.

  12. Thank you and thank you again :) it was a lovely surprise to find this article in my inbox, as we too home educate our one child and we all love it! My daughter certainly receives plenty of socialization (sometimes even too much, lol). We plan extra activities like ballet, swimming, pottery lessons with our daughters peers and with another teacher teaching them and this works really well.
    It was truly refreshing Jamie to have a article for those families with only one child, we sometimes feel left out. By the way I just purchased your book and its fantastic! I love all the plans too :)

    Take care and keep up the good work!

    Miriam
    (Australia)
    .-= Miriam’s last blog: Hello! =-.

  13. Do you mind me asking what the lady’s name is that was in the video……the video will not play for me ;-) We are finishing our first year of homeschooling our only child and it has been such a blessing.

  14. We are homeschooling our only child who is almost 4 and I have to say, he has no problem with socializing or with socialization. So many fear factors out there that have people second guess their intuition. We feel so blessed to be homeschooling and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thanks for this great article. (I just stumbled upon your blog…but will be following closely now.) -Debbie
    .-= Debbie’s last blog: Apple Rhubarb Turnovers =-.

  15. Hi –
    Thanks for your post about home educating an only child. We’re just finishing up our first year of homeschooling with our just-turned-six-year-old kindergartener. The first year has gone pretty well, despite some early challenges while we figured out how it would work best for us. I think it’s been a great way to ‘do school’ creatively.

    For sure the biggest challenge has been ensuring that he has enough time to spend, playing, with other kids…otherwise I’m the playmate all of the time! To that end, I worked hard (especially at the beginning of the school year, when were were setting things up) to arrange play dates with kids in our neighbourhood, cultivate friendships with families with kids, and engage with other homeschoolers during the day on a regular basis. We also became involved with a group that organizes field trips for homeschoolers, and this has been a great way to network socially, as well as to add to the variety of how our son receives an education. I’ve realized, over the course of the school year, that the more flexible I am, the more our son learns and the more receptive he is to learning. With that in mind, perhaps we’re moving a bit in the direction of UN-schooling…we’ll see how things go.

    We decided a year ago that we would take things year by year and assess how things are going for our son. We have definitely decided, with our son’s full support, that we will be starting grade one at home in fall…in fact, we probably won’t even wait until fall to start!

    Thanks again – I hope you write more on this topic. It’s been valuable.

    Ruth

  16. Is it going to be easy to homeschool an only child when homeschooling doesn’t exist within the community? He really doesn’t get to see anyone (besides mums or grandparents) most of the time as the school kids will be too busy with homework, exams and extra classes. Even though school doesn’t allow much socializing, he thinks it is better than none.

  17. I homeschool my “only” and he is thriving. He’s in 4th grade and we’ve been homeschooling since he started 2nd grade. Just like I would do if I had multiple children, I make sure he has plenty of opportunities to play with friends, and also to be in group settings, which I think is important for his well rounded growth. His particular personality thrives in a lot of down time, too, though, and we make sure he gets that, and we don’t overschedule him. He loves being an only child, is extremely well adjusted, outgoing, confident and content…we do what works well for him, and homeschooling has been the greatest gift ever for him, and our entire family. :) When it comes down to educating our children, homeschooling an only child can work just as well as a larger family..I see it with my own eyes every day. :) Happy homeschooling, everyone! :)

  18. I homeschool an only child. He is currently in third grade, and balancing time with other children has been a bit of a challenge. Deciding how much is enough, or too much. While there may be areas where it’s hard to find homeschoolers to interact with, that is not the case here. We have a large, active online group with lots of field trips, playdates, and other activities co-ordinated by interested moms.
    I will say that for the first few years I was really paranoid about making up for the lack of siblings. And as a result, almost burnt myself out with activities/group schooling. Finally I decided that this was his reality and he would just have to adjust. In reality, it was probably mostly a mental adjustment for me. He plays on his own really well, and although he enjoys interacting with others too, his ideal day includes time to play on his own.

  19. I appreciate your topic — there is frustratingly little out there about homeschooling an only child. I have to chime in with Erin, though, and disagree with the idea that we “only child” moms don’t have time management struggles. I grew up in a very large family so I am thoroughly aware of the dynamic of that. My own family’s dynamic is vastly different and surprisingly challenging as I am my child’s only built-in playmate. It can be extremely time-challenging to maintain your relationship with your husband, plan lessons, plan meals, feed everyone, keep laundry done, attempt to keep housework done, teach, do all the basics that a mom of any family must do, plus play, entertain, plan playdates (which then involve transporting one child or another and carving out a block of your time) as opposed to just saying, “Go play with your sister while I finish x,y,z.” Especially if your only child is very energetic and loves socializing. Even finding time for dates with your spouse can be challenging (in my family, from the time I can remember, there was always an older sibling = free babysitting). So I would love to see more written BY only child moms who have struggled with some of these tensions. Any resources you can suggest?

  20. Thank you for this post. We are also a family with only one child and we are considering homeschool for the long term. We have been doing preschool homeschool this year and she is loving it and so are we (mom & dad)! :)

    I have to agree with Kate on this one. I have moms and friends that tell me it must be so nice to have so much more time on my hands having only one child… but they do not understand how it works! As Kate stated, we do not have the option of “go play with your brother(s) or sister(s).” There IS no alone time unless if we are blessed with a little nap during the day :) From the time my girl is awake until the time Daddy comes home from work or she goes to bed, I am her BFF! She wants to be doing every single thing I am doing. She wants to play dollies every second of the day and entertaining herself lasts all of about 5 minutes.

    I love every minute of being a mom and I am content to have been given only one child. I look forward to homeschooling her and look forward to the day that that choice isn’t questioned every other minute :)

    Yay for homeschool! :)

  21. Thank you for the article. I have been struggling with the decision of keeping my only child in public school or homeschooling next year. She’s in 3rd grade and has been a straight “A” student since she started school. While I don’t hate the public school system, I don’t love it either. I worry my child’s current public school education has too many flaws, leading her to miss out academically. The only child socialization issue is constantly in mind. For instance, before starting school, my daughter used to be very shy, but that seemed to have dissipated these past couple of years. She still takes some time to warm up to new people, but when she does, it’s great. I also worry about what Kate mentioned: the fact that only child parents have to deal with the constant pressure of playing parent, sibling, friend, all-in-one. My husband always has to remind me that I’m the parent and that comes first. While my daughter is very nice and easy going, I put in a lot more time interacting with her compared to my friends with multiple children. I absolutely love that we can be best friends, though. But would adding the role of teacher, on top of it all, damage our relationship? Would it be too much? Would she miss school terribly and hate being home all day? True, we do okay in the summer time, but homeschooling isn’t the same as being home for the summer. Even though we do two hours of home school, four days a week, then…
    I guess what I want to know is if anyone felt the same way before going for it? Any suggestions on how to evaluate the situation? I like structure and I know I would be very strict.

  22. I homeschool my only child. She’s going to be in fourth grade and we’ve homeschooled from the start. We both love it and I wouldn’t change it for anything. She is around other children through our neighbors and church. The main reason I love it is we can focus on what she loves and study things in depth, she is currently loving the Narnia books, cooking with me, and Apologia Astronomy. She doesn’t like Math too well, so we went with a program on the computer. This has helped her stay on schedule and it doesn’t cause frustration. She thinks it’s fun!
    The joys of selecting a personalized school year, teaching her from a Christian outlook, plus spending time with her, is priceless. Sure it’s hard but she’s not going to be at home forever.
    If I could advise anyone thinking about homeschooling, I would say that if God put it on your heart, then take serious time to consider all the positive things, don’t focus on the negative. With any school environment, there are negatives. God will give you His grace when you need it.

  23. joy jao says:

    This topic is true and I agree to it.
    I am homeschooling my only child and she is in her second grade this coming schoolyear. We only spend 2 hours a day on her academic subjects and most of the times we do it 3 times a week but we were able to finish all lessons ahead of time schedule. She is only 6 years old when she was in grade one. So she has lots of time to enjoy exploring, imagining, creating her own ideas through playing. She has lots of time to do her passion for drawing and painting. She also do role playing. And at the age of 6 she is already writing stories. She also have lots of time for playdates.

  24. Thank you for this. I didn’t homeschool my first two who have already graduated high school. I have been seriously considering homeschooling my youngest and this was very encouraging!

  25. Thank you!! I homeschool my only child. We love it. He went to school from Pre-K thru 2nd. He was bored in school because he is so far ahead. We have homeschooled for 2 years. He is so happy now. Its a challenge because I am a single parent.

Share Your Thoughts

*

CommentLuv badge


http://www.rockandrollhoteldc.com, http://www.rockandrollhoteldc.com/cheapest-place-to-buy/kamagra-jelly-without-prescription.html#kamagra-jelly, http://www.rockandrollhoteldc.com/cheapest-place-to-buy/keftab-without-prescription.html, www.rockandrollhoteldc.com, www.rockandrollhoteldc.com#citalopram, www.rockandrollhoteldc.com, buy plavix, buy actos online, buy alesse online, http://www.rockandrollhoteldc.com/cheapest-place-to-buy/allopurinol-without-prescription.html#allopurinol, http://www.rockandrollhoteldc.com, http://www.rockandrollhoteldc.com/cheapest-place-to-buy/prednisolone-without-prescription.html