Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Homeschooling An Only Child

I have six children, so what do I know about homeschooling an "only"? Maybe less than you do, which is why I am soliciting your opinions!

Because my first child was almost nine before the next five arrived, I might have a little more insight than the typical mom-of-many. My neighbor once told her only child that she was loved more than my children, because her parents didn't have to divide their affection among so many. I was able to gently correct her, with humor and grace, because I understood why she might have that impression. I remember fearing, while expecting child number two, that I could never love another child as much as I did my firstborn. Several children later, I smile at the absurdity of that fear, but I'm better able to relate to my neighbor's situation in some respects.

Our homeschool co-op is made up of many families with five or more children. I was surprised to notice that almost as many members have a single child and that some families with several kids are homeschooling just one of them. I remember the thought processes that go into the decision to homeschool. My own family size was one factor that influenced our decision to educate at home. At least I knew they would never be lonely!

When people find out we homeschool, they often feel they need to share all the reasons why they don't teach their own kids at home. The first one mentioned by parents of onlies is that their child will be lonely. Parents of onlies are sometimes even more concerned than other parents about "socialization". One friend shared that her son represented her only opportunity to succeed at parenting and she wasn't about to risk doing something as unconventional as home schooling.

These days, my own family is shrinking. Two of mine have graduated from our homeschool high school, and another will graduate this year. It recently occurred to me that I will eventually be teaching only one at home. He still won't qualify as an "only child", but it has piqued my interest in the dynamics of teaching one alone. From my casual observation, the "onlies" seem to fare as well as the members of a big brood, but I'd like to hear from those who have been there.

Do you have an only child, or are you homeschooling only one of your kids? Do you know someone who does? Does this influence your teaching methods or choice of curriculum? Is having only one at home a positive or a negative . . . or do the benefits and disadvantages balance each other? Please share your experiences.

1 comment:

  1. I have 6 kids at home but I homeschool only the youngest... just because he didn't want to go to school like his siblings and I had already taught him how to read and write and had been doing science and social studies as well (didn't realize that I was "homeschooling"! In fact, I didn't even know that existed!). Now our son is in 2nd grade and still doesn't want to go to school. His closest sibling is his sister who is in 5th grade, then I have an 8th grader, a 10th grader, an 11th grader and a 12th grader.

    Is he "lonely"? Sometimes... I'm NOT a naturally outgoing person and I'd rather stay home than go meet new people. But I know what about myself so we go to the playground every afternoon once school is out (when it's cool enough, which it hasn't been in almost 6 months!), he attends a weekly PE class for homeschoolers, plays soccer one night a week, attends a monthly science class for homeschoolers, attend a monthly park day with other homeschooling friends. I schedule a lot of field trips so he is around other people if not "with" them.

    I do wish he had closer friends his own age since all his friends live an hour away. Our neighborhood (old downtown area) does not lend itself to playing outside (no sidewalks, no young kids) even though we have a big yard.

    I like homeschooling only 1 child. Sure, all my planning and research won't be used again so I post it online for others to benefit from it. I have my own blog and also I lead my own very small homeschooling support group. I don't have much patience so homeschooling 1 child is perfect. I marvel at how people like yourself can teach various kids at various levels and not pull their hair out! I'd love to think I could handle several kids, but I tried 2 before and it was a disaster. Of course, that was my 1st year and I didn't really know what I was doing.

    The main thing I don't like about only homeschooling only 1 of my children, is that we are not as free as I would like us to be due to my other kids' schedules and activities. So no trip out of state to see the leaves change colors for us... everything has to be planned well in advance and there's always something throwing a wrench in the best-laid plans anyway :)


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