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.
Jessica @ LifeasMOM
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.
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 =-.
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!
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!
Excellent point. There is a difference. I think my son does so well because we made sure he understood that there is an appropriate time and place to socialize. We also taught him that is very important to treat people with respect and dignity…everyone IS NOT taught the difference.
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 🙂
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.
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.
Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool
That is so wonderful to hear, Dawn. There are many, many parents homeschooling a child on the autistic spectrum and finding it to be better for all of them.
Blessings to you and your son!
.-= Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s last blog: Volunteering is Serious Business =-.
We have friends who have a son with Aspergers too. They started off by putting him in a mainstream school. He managed during the pre primary phase, but once he entered Grade 1 he became increasingly stressed. By Grade2 they removed him from school and decided to homeschool him. A year later they are overjoyed by the change in their son.
I think your homeschooling decision is a good one.
I realize this is an old post, but I’m sure people still read through. My mum was pressured out of homeschooling by family. I myself have Aspergers, and although I had friends, going to public school was miserable for me. I ended up with about a 50% absence rate because the stress of it all made me physically ill with migraines and every illness out there (I had a stress-weakened immune system). When I was 16, I made the decision to switch to a home learning environment and found it so much better. I was sent the work in the mail and completed it myself with the help of online resources. I found that I was able to get through much more in much less time (so much time was wasted in school!) and focus energy on the subjects and topics that I wanted and needed. I also had much more time for extracurricular activities and even a part-time job which I learned far more from than school. I’m now doing my degree through a well-respected New Zealand university via correspondence overseas, all the while learning languages through immersion and teaching English to fund it all (learning all sorts of working, organizational and presentation skills in the meantime). I think back now and wish that I had been homeschooled from the start – I could have learned so much more in much less time, and had energy and health to be able to better enjoy every aspect of life with. If school is stressful for your child, and you have the resources and motivation to homeschool, I would highly recommend doing it.
Thank you for sharing. My daughter is 15 and gets very stressed with school and disagrees with how things are handled. This year 10th grade we decided to do homeschooling.
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.
Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool
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!
I would disagree also. . . Yes, they do get the parental viewpoint, but this parent deliberately exposes her middle school son to different view points, it is part of developing critical thinking skills. I do believe that one has to plan a bit harder for the additional viewpoints, encourage research and debate (respectful). We are active in several clubs and groups that have people from a wide variety of backgrounds. I like our co op, because it gives him exposure to other teachers and personalities, there are 15 in his grade level. He is active in Boy Scouts, learning leadership skills, decisions are made by the boys, and the older boys teach skills to the younger with adult guidance as needed. When he works on his Merit Badges, the Merit Badge counselor has specific knowledge and skills in that topic (there are over 100 topics from Collecting Coins to Nuclear Science) . He actually has a real relationship with Dad, (who works alternating day/night shifts and hardly saw him while in school even though we all live in the same house). And believe me, Dad has an entirely different perspective on lots of things. I would probably have a heart attack if I went with them. . . he is much more rough and tumble, which is great for a growing boy! He can take live online classes through Duke TIP. . . and will be doing so through middle and high school. Our reasons for home educating are different from most, he has a brain tumor and underwent several surgeries in a single year. He requested (begged) to be home schooled as he finished a weeks worth of class work (sent home from school) in a day. He spent a large percentage of his time waiting and helping others get finished. Now that he can go at his own pace and depth. . . he is working several grade levels ahead.
Actually very little of our time is spent at home. . . we do a lot of “car schooling” listening to audio tapes or reviewing lessons between activities and events and service to our community via the nursing home. We don’t have extended family and both myself and my husband are only children, so he has several elderly people he has adopted, and because of his knowledge base, he often gets first hand accounts of historical events.
The other great thing that I have noticed, he is who he is, and likes what he likes.. . most in the homeschool community are confident in themselves and don’t feel the same type of peer pressure. The peers tend to value individuality, and avoid group think. I also love the different ages that he is can relate with, which we didn’t have time to foster when he was public schooled. He has an hour lunch at co op and can (and does) play with younger children, dolls, tea time. . (he has always wanted a little sister). Then he can have a discussion with one of the teens about their driver’s license. In one of our co ops, he took a high school forensics class. . . and at 11 years old answered and asked most of the questions. The other advantage that wasn’t brought up in the article is finances. . . we can go on more field trips that a larger family can with just a single ticket. We got a year book, the high schoolers had a beautiful prom. . . . he can participate in sports leagues (but he isn’t the athletic type).
I think it varies from family to family, and homeschooling isn’t a good fit for everyone, or for every time period. We are open to returning to public school if it seems like the best fit for our family.
The curriculum I use has in class videos with teachers and students and the teacher even pauses to let the homeschooled student answer a question, so you feel very much like you are in a class with other children. Abeka is the best!
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.)
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.
We sent our son to public school through the second grade, and are now homeschooling him in the third. Even though he is an only child, he has lots of opportunities to have friends over (some of whom are also homeschooled) and he is involved in the local soccer association. He also has a lot of interaction with the members of our church, so we’re not worried about the “socialization” aspect everyone is so freaked out about. We found that he is doing better at home because he can work at his own pace, and even though he does miss his friends from school, he’s told me he doesn’t want to go back to public school. I personally love the fact that I can customize his curriculum to his learning style (strong auditory/kinesthetic) and since he’s our “only,” it’s easy to switch gears if necessary without having to upset the whole apple cart. Friends of ours homeschool 4, and sometimes she seems frazzled just trying to get through the day, and seems much too busy just maintaining the status quo to customize.
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 =-.
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’s last blog: Hello! =-.
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.
Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool
There are a few people in the video. The author is Resa Steindel Brown–writer of the book “A Call to Brilliance.” It is a wonderful read!
.-= Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s last blog: Weekend Links =-.
We have been homeschooling two years and I think homeschooling an only is a mixture of wonderful and difficult. O think often people think it is much easier to home school and only but I think it’s just different. I have home schooling friends who think it means we have more free time and it really doesn’t mean that at all but it does mean that my daughter gets my undivided attention when we are learning. It means that when we do field trips I can help her rather then juggling multiple needs. We have just as many activities, if not more then larger families but it is easier to get one ready than multiples. For us the biggest challenge is that we don’t live in a good neighborhood for friends but we make it work with park days and activities. As to not having additional view points we use so many different sources, there is also her father’s viewpoint or my dad’s I really don’t see it as an issue.
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 =-.
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.
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.
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! 🙂
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.
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?
Totally agree. I can’t ever say, “Go play with your sister”. That is huge! I spent the majority of my childhood playing with my siblings. I don’t even really remember “playing” with my mother. I don’t know how to be a constant companion to my daughter and be able to get done what I need to do too. It’s very frustrating for both of us. I’ve put my daughter into many different sports and classes but it is what her heart is after. She needs hours of unstructured playtime, not classes. The classes do absolutely nothing for her craving for peer playtime. We don’t live in a neighborhood, also a huge difference. We moved to a farmhouse so we could have acreage and natural spaces but we lost any neighborhood kids we would have had. I would love to see some advice written by a mom of an only. I can’t seem to find a good balance in giving my time to my child and ever having time for what I need to do.
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! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I am an older Mom with our only child who just turned five. He is very bright and has been reading for several months now. I have been wanting to homeschool him, but his lack of social skills has been worrisome ie; having fits when he loses, storming off with an attitude, defiant and repeated challenging behaviors. I don’t have any friends with children at home and I want to do what is best for him, would live everyone’s take on this….he is involved with piano and karate for a total of three times a week. I was told he needs more structure although we are pretty structured…we do go to church every week, MOPS every other week…thoughts? Thanks!
I am an older mom of an only child (will be 5). We have no family near us at all and recently moved to a new province. I put her in a small preschool but the teacher said as my child already reads, writes and can do maths, she was bored at preschool. I took her out and we just carried on at home. She is extremely curious and we always work to find out answers. I was told to have her tested to see if she is gifted. We did and she scored off the charts and has been accepted into a school for the gifted. I am a fully qualified, experienced high school maths and science teacher. I was not happy with what I saw in the public schools. As I watched my child set about investigating her world and I struggled to keep up while setting aside all my expectations, and until the whole school for gifted option came up, I fully intended to home school and simply worried, as everyone does about socialization. Now I have to added worry about what is better for my child: homeschooling (we get on well, I know how she approaches life (quirky) and have a great time) versus a specialist school. I’ve never taught in a school for the gifted. I worry that they’ll lay all sorts of stereotypes on her that she doesn’t need, or pressure she won’t like. Or shush her. When I visited the school one mother told me that the most common word spoken to her son (Grade one) was ‘ shush’. That turned my blood cold. My kid asks questions and we search out the answers. If she asks a question it’s because she wants to know. Thinking about the ‘Shush’ is making this decision even harder. Any one got any ideas?
Let me add my thanks for this article. Most homeschooling articles do seem to be about families with more than one kid, and some of the concerns (and pleasures) just don’t apply!
As I have been just married and understanding the importance of homeschooling was very important I think after reading this excellent resource tailored by you. But Is it going to be easy to homeschool an only child when homeschooling doesn’t exist within our neighbourhood? Waiting for your reply, thanks!
Alex’s latest post: Easy Peasy Homeschool : Everything You Need To Know
Nice article and great discussion!
I homeschool my only son who has just turned 7. I had always intended to homeschool, but when Kindergarten time came I put him in school just to make sure that if he loved it, he could stay in school and if he didn’t we would pull the plug. It was an epic fail, we lasted three months.
I am also a single mom so that adds a pretty hefty challenge to time management but I think there are a number of things that have made our situation really work for us. Number one is we have built a community of support around us. My mom, dad, and step-dad are all involved with raising my son. They spend a great deal of time with us/him and help him learn and engage with the world. My son often spends his days fishing with his grandpa and exploring nature while other kids are at school. We also have my brothers and some of my close cousins who are active in his life. He has one little cousin who also homeschools and they are like brothers. They play and fight like lil bros! And often do experential learning activities together. We also have a larger group of friends who all homeschool, but I am the only one with one child.
We play one or two team sports per season and my son has a pretty solid group of friends from his sports. He gets invited to parties and playdates etc and I find that one key difference between my homeschooled only and the public school kids is that a majority of them are all exhausted by the time after school activities come up. Many of the other parents are the ones to point this out and are stressed that their kids are so tired.
Another way we manage is that my son is very introverted. Bigger groups stress him out and he likes and needs alone time, quiet time, and one-on-one play. I remember being a very introverted kid at school and was a wallflower. I feel like I just watched school happen as a child rather than actually being a part of it. I don’t know if our situation would work if he was more extroverted, but I imagine we would just have to roll with the punches and find ways that work for us.
Finally my last two cents is that we “unschool”. This was probably hardest for me to do, but with the support of our learning consultant (we do a program called Self Design), I learned to chill out and embrace every day learning activities. I still monitor learning outcomes, but we do them through experiential learning, investigating interests, answering the many “whys” with real answers, unstructured play, etc. The one thing we do structured is the Khan Academy math program online because my son loves it. Even though we have never done any other “lessons” my son is well above/far above grade level in all areas. I found that it helps to spend time reflecting on what we learned from an activity or throughout the day so that both of us remember that we learn from everything. I don’t think homeschooling an only as a single mom would would work if we were trying to do lessons throughout the day.
One more key thing that makes this work is that I work from home and I love my work. I do research consulting and photography/film-making/graphic design so can make a good living working 20-25 hours a week and also live in a small, northern town where the cost of living isn’t high. So I guess my key message is that every situation is unique but that homeschooling an only isn’t impossible, but it is important to build a community of support and to do what works for your family.
Looking forward to continue following this post! Cheers.
Oh, I’m 2 years late to this post! I hope to receive some responses :).
I have an only son, 10 years old and in 4th grade. He has attended a well-respected, high- performing, private Christian school since Kindergarten. He has never wanted to go to school. I’d call him a social introvert…he loves his friends and he loves his alone time. Though he is “popular”, he does struggle with interpersonal relations. I believe his difficulties with conflict and his chafing at the structure and discipline are the main causes of the anxiety he experiences. He even has physical symptoms due to his school anxiety. I have kept him in school for a few reasons (though, in my heart I want to homeschool him): 1) I am not very disciplined myself and fear I’d get flustered and he’d end up on video games or tv too much 2) I fear he’d miss out on the high-quality teaching, public speaking opportunities, and rites of passage that his school offers and 3) I’ve always read that facing fears is the way to overcome them. So I’ve figured he should stay in school and face people if that’s what hes afraid of. But when is too much too much?
Thanks for any responses!
Hi Amy! I think you should listen to your heart, or at least give it a try! There’s probably a reason why it is leading you the way that it is, and by exploring homeschooling you’ll be able to see how it goes and how your son does. I’d encourage you to look in the “new, start here” section to figure out how to get started. Imagine ten years from now, when your son is grown, what you’d wish you had done now. That often helps to point me in the right direction. All the best!
Huh! I just replied to a message above that was quite old, but seeing as yours is more recent and I think it might be helpful, I’ll repost it here.
“Although I had friends, going to school was miserable for me. I ended up with about a 50% absence rate because the stress of it all made me physically ill with migraines and every illness out there (I had a stress-weakened immune system). When I was 16, I made the decision to switch to a home learning environment and found it so much better. I was sent the work in the mail and completed it myself with the help of online resources. I found that I was able to get through much more in much less time (so much time was wasted in school!) and focus energy on the subjects and topics that I wanted and needed. I also had much more time for extracurricular activities and even a part-time job which I learned far more from than school. I’m now doing my degree through a well-respected New Zealand university via correspondence overseas, all the while learning languages through immersion and teaching English to fund it all (learning all sorts of working, organizational and presentation skills in the meantime). I think back now and wish that I had been homeschooled from the start – I could have learned so much more in much less time, and had energy and health to be able to better enjoy every aspect of life with. If school is stressful for your child, and you have the resources and motivation to homeschool, I would highly recommend doing it.”
As he is a bit younger than I was, he probably will need that extra parental support to help stay focused. Having said that, you really can get a lot more done in less time, so he should have that extra free time. There are definitely other ways he could be encouraged to use it more positively though through clubs and fun learning apps like Duolingo (game-like foreign language learning) etc.
I’m considering possibly homeschooling my son, who will be in 8th Grade next year. He’s a very intelligent boy, but has been struggling with grades the past years, since about 5th Grade. We go around in circles about homework and it seems that I’m nagging him all of the time about his grades. He’s been anxious and angry and depressed lately. I’m wondering if homeschooling will actually help him since he’ll be able to go at his own pace and we can structure the schooling to better suit him. He keeps telling me that he HATES school and he thinks its stupid. I don’t know if he feels overwhelmed and is afraid to say it or what. I know he loves band and seeing his friends, but that’s all he really likes about school. I’ve been praying about his situation with school and just life in general as a 13 year old 7th Grader and I just recently got the idea of homeschooling. I’m wondering if God is impressing upon my heart to give that a try next year. My concerns are, that I’m not very organized. I know I can get organized if I have to. And, that I have a weird work schedule. But the weird work schedule could possibly work to a homeschooling advantage maybe? There is also the issue right now of, he’ll start off the trimester OK but then if he gets sick and misses a week because he can’t go back to school unless he’s feever free for 24 hours then he gets behind and has to catch up. I think that discourages him and he loses his motivation to even try. I’m wondering if homeschooling would be a better fit. I know we can always give it a try and if he doesn’t like it, he can go to a public school for high school. He has gone to public school since Kindergarten and my fear is that if I keep him in public school that he may give up altogether and drop out in High School. Has anyone else had a similar situation? What are some thoughts? He’s an only child and I’m not worried about socialization because he can get that from the church youth group. He’s always had issues working in group settings. So when group projects come along, he always ultimately ends up doing them alone because he gets flustered when the other kids reject his ideas, or the other kids don’t participate and he ends up doing all of the work anyway, or he gets kicked out of the group for one reason or another. I think he’s just not happy in a school setting and may be happier learning at home. Any thoughts from anyone else? Anyone else have a similar situation with their kid and pulled them out to homeschool instead?
Hi Tammy! Is your son interested in giving homeschooling a try? If so, I would definitely encourage you to go for it! It sounds like it could be a perfect fit in your situation, helping him avoid the unnecessary and unhelpful aspects of the school day that you’re mentioned above.
Here are a couple of other posts/sites I’d recommend you check out:
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Ashley Wright’s latest post: Why America Needs Online Education!