Written by Diana Stone of Diana Wrote
All homeschool days are unique – but ours are perhaps even more so than most. My daughter Bella is 5, and an unexpected only child. While so many of us (with good reason) scoff at the constant mention of socialization and homeschool, that issue bears a little more weight around here.
As a military family, we’ve watched many good friends move, while sharing memories with our families hundreds of miles away. I do think about my daughter’s relationships, both close and fleeting.
This fall, I struggled with the decision to homeschool just Bella.
In my mind, I’d always planned to homeschool with little ones underfoot, a baby strapped to me, laundry piling up. I work really well under pressure; even as a teacher I loved being busy and having a large classroom. Faced with a very independent learner, I felt helpless to know how to go about focusing all my effort on one.
In our case, we decided to use the “village” mentality where family and friends couldn’t be.
I enrolled my daughter in an hourly class on our military post for a few hours each week. What started as a fill in between sitters who came to our home, became a stable and loving environment.
Bella plays alongside children younger and older than her, with several teachers that love her and support us homeschooling. Several of the children in her class are also being homeschooled – and are only children.
This fall we joined a Girl Scout troop that is just for homeschooling families. Almost every week there is a meeting or activity where the girls run outside, learn to make different crafts, and memorize songs and pledges.
At home, we use a very relaxed schedule for learning with the Memoria Press curriculum. It’s classically based, and we’re slowly working through the Kindergarten year. She was past the Pre-K, so we went with Kindergarten and know we’ll probably be working through it next year as well.
In Texas, she isn’t required to be in school until the age of 6, so we’re not in a hurry.
Our mornings have lots of playtime, running errands, and reading. Two times a week Bella goes to her hourly class in the mornings so I can work from home.
The afternoons are spent outside, on walks, doing crafts, and having her help me start dinner and do simple chores. This is also the time for our Girl Scout meetings or a sport she’s involved in for that season.
In the evenings, she spends time with Daddy caring for our animals – we have a lizard and hamster that she and my husband love to watch and play with.
At bedtime, we snuggle up and read anything from Frog and Toad, in which she can sound out blends, to Little House in the Big Woods. I’m teaching her to listen and make pictures in her mind from the words and not depend so much on pictures.
Slowly, all of us are beginning to adjust to a homeschool life with an only child. As I navigate how much to push, when to leave her be, and how to balance my time with her and encouraging her to spend time on her own, she also finds her own way both at home and with others that bring new experiences to her life.
It’s not always easy, it wasn’t my ideal plan, and our homeschooling is off to a much different start than I imagined. But in the midst of pain and struggling to find a new way of life, there is joy in watching my daughter learn alongside me.
We walk this homeschool road together, and make it ours alone.
Are you also homeschooling one child?
How things have changed:
2014: Diana’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-year-old)
It’s nice to see the only child perspective. I think those of us homeschooling with one may struggle with the socialization issue more often because we have just one child in the house. And the biggest difference between other homeschooling families and us is that we’re the ones asking, “What about socialization?!” My family lives in an older neighborhood and there are no kids who live close enough for him to see them on a daily basis. If we go more than two days in a row without a play date or some sort of organized activity with other kids in our co-op, I start to freak out and wonder what I’ve done to him…isolating him like this! I also think that we sometimes get overlooked in co-op activities and planned events. Thanks for this.
I am SO glad to hear I’m not the only one who has the freak out moment. I feel the same – and we live in a similar neighborhood. Lots of kids but mostly older elementary.
Diana Stone’s latest post: New Routines
Thank you for bringing the “homeschooling an only” perspective. I’m sure there are more of us out there than we think. I’m in the 3rd year of homeschooling my son (age 8). He went to a private preschool and to a public school kindergarten. I’m thankful for that year of kindergarten because through it I met two other moms who are older moms (I was 38 when I had my son) of only children. One of those moms pulled her son to homeschool him after kindergarten, too, and we started the journey together. The other mom pulled her daughter mid-year second grade. We have remained close friends with the moms and kids from kindergarten and we all meet at a park at least once a week. It’s a good mix of homeschool kids and traditional school kids. We have become a tight knit group. They have been my lifeline through this adventure. My son also works with a small group at a tutor’s house, takes various classes at museums, and attends a mythology & Latin class with other homeschooling kids. We are not members of a co-op at this time. Homeschooling an only is a tough job because you are together 24/7 and that can be stressful, exhausting and suffocating at times. But, on the other hand, with an only…it’s always his turn and we move through curriculum at lightning speed! Good luck in your homeschool journey! I wish you lots of fun times and plenty of friends by your side. 🙂
You have some really great ideas that I’m tucking away for down the road! I love that your friendships stemmed from his initial school years, it’s wonderful to have that connection to be a part of when this all gets a bit isolated (for us and them).
Diana Stone’s latest post: New Routines
This sounds like my story: only child girl, classically schooled, very independent learner. Thanks for putting into words the only child-socialization issue. It does seem more urgent on our side of things. Thanks for sharing your day!
I homeschool an only child, my 6 year old daughter. I too have struggled with having only 1 child because I grew up with 5 siblings and always wanted a large family. With only 1 kid we have to be more intentional about socialization. We are part of a purely social homeschool group that meets every other week. My daughter takes various art classes through our local rec dept and takes tae kwon doe.
I think it’s perfect how you’ve found opportunities for your only beautiful daughter to socialize with other children outside your home while giving her the gift of homeschooling.
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We are in a very similar boat. I’m an older mother of an only daughter. We are a military family living in Texas. I find our biggest struggle with homeschooling is creating plenty of peer interactions for her and for myself. We do fun, low pressure co- ops, sports and clubs. We joined a church with a very strong child ministry. Teaching my smart, eager to learn 3rd grader her curriculum isn’t difficult. Being very intentional about providing plenty of chances for making good friends is, especially when we move every few years.
My first thought reading your comment was, “Texas – maybe she’s near me!” And of course that chances of that in giant Texas are pretty slim ;). I think you nailed it for me when you said teaching isn’t the hard part – it’s making sure the opportunities for friendships are, especially when moving. I feel exactly the same.
Diana Stone’s latest post: New Routines
We also have an only child, different than how we pictured life. For now we have chosen not to homeschool, but it’s so encouraging to see those who do. Thanks for sharing your story!
I clicked over and read your birth stories from your all about me page. I want to express my condolences. I am so sorry you had to experience that incredible pain. What a heartbreaking road. I pray as you trust in Him his Presence will give you much peace, and sometime soon, the desire of your heart. Much love to you from a sister in Christ.
christine’s latest post: Teaching a Dyslexic Child to Read & Spell
Another older mom homeschooling an only daughter (Caroline, eight). I have a page on my website devoted to raising an only child. It includes a list of other bloggers with onlies. I’d be happy to add any of you to the list or feel free to check it out if you just want to find some encouragement. 🙂
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I’m also homeschooling my only! He’s 5, and I never thought of homeschooling until we moved and didn’t want to put him in school where I live. It’s been such a pleasant surprise! It can be hard but I’m so thankful it happened. I struggle with finding friends for him to see. The co-op only does far away trips that I would rather just do as a family and no one else seems to want to ever do play dates. My son pretty much plays with me and my husband but I’ve finally learned to let that fear go & I’m happier. He’s fine and he’s doing so well and every time we take him somewhere people comment on how smart or funny he is, which of course is always especially nice for us homeschool moms to hear. I am going to find a sport or class or something for him eventually though because I know it will be fun for him. It’s really nice to read about another only child being homeschooled!
Thanks for this post. We too are parents to an only child and I am beginning our homeschool journey now in the “village” building and planning. We were lucky to find another family in our neighborhood who’re also homeschooling so it’s worth it to put an inquiry on your neighborhood listserv!
I became the mom of one child about six years ago. I instantly also became the mom of a teenager. She was 13 years old when we adopted her from Thailand. We started out with public school. But, when she entered high school she began BEGGING me to home school her. It’s ended up being a great experience. The only “village” that my daughter had growing up was her orphanage surroundings, which was not very positive. So, we’re so thankful for a home school network in which the kids are trying hard to include Penny and help her get over her fear of mean peers. Your daughter is truly blessed that you’re helping her to build a healthy group of peers from the start!
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My son will be 7 in March. I’m infertile (he’s ivf). I have done too many cycles to count. We had a stillborn daughter in March of 2012 and 2 miscarriages afterward. We adopted a baby girl in 2013, but in many ways I still am dealing with “only” child issues. (I can’t stand that term.)
My main goal in life is to assure he is with other kids as often has possible and frankly it can be exhausting… Mentally and physically.
Thank you so much for blogging. I use to google “homeschooling an only child” ALL. THE. TIME. and would come up with nothing.
Thank you for sharing these words. I feel as if I too have an only child that I am planning on homeschooling. She is, in fact, our fourth, but with a 15 year gap between her and her next sibling it is like she is an only child with 5 parents (although not all at home at the same time). I understand and agree with your concerns about socialisation. We have the added issue of living rurally and our small town does not offer a lot of extra activities. There is only one other family homeschooling that I am aware of and the nearest homeschooling group is an hour and a half away. Anything like museums or activities are more likely to be 3 hours drive away. I am hoping to be able to keep in touch with her Playcentre and preschool friends even after they have gone of to school but it may be tough. Luckily she has a wonderful imagination and can entertain herself most of the time.
I just recently started home schooling my son, who is an only child with special needs. We don’t have relatives close by either. Our biggest challenge has been socialization.I have to be very deliberate about seeking out opportunities for him to socialize and be involved in group programs. I just keep praying for guidance.
We’re in the big space boat. My two girls were born 18mths apart and are one grade apart in school. I teach them together and they are natural best-friends. My baby boy was born five years after my middle. While that doesn’t sound huge, in our family, it has really created two distinct age groups. My girls act as a parent/babysitter to the baby, not as a friend or sibling. Right now, the baby is in preschool, but the question of whether I could homeschool just him has already arose. Thanks for giving some perspective of homeschooling a single child.
Thank you so much for writing on the homeschooling an only child perspective. I have a lot in common with your senario. I too thought I would have multiple little ones. My little guy will be 5 next month and we started Kindergarten this past January (even though I don’t have to school until 7). We live in Colorado and my family lives in Mississippi. Having an only child it is very important to me to get him back around cousins (who are all about the same age) as often as possibly and is one of the main reasons I decided to homeschool. The flexability of it allows us to travel whenever we want. Our “village” here in Colorado is great, but I grew up with a huge family and not having siblings himself, I want those cousins to be like his siblings.
I just wanted you to know you are not alone and I admire and appreciate you writing your “day in a life”. I wish for you many blessings!
I’m homeschooling my daughter (9), an only child. I feel the struggle for socialization every day. Even though my daughter is in Kung Fu three days a week, and church activities twice a week , everyday she wants play dates with friends. I get frustrated with her best friend’s mom who never thinks to invite my child over when the neighbor kids drop by and play for hours unannounced, just because we don’t live next door. I have to remind myself each and every day that she’s not the only only child ever and also not the only one who is homeschool! And all the ones I know turned out great!