If you are a family with an only child and you’ve thought about homeschooling I want to tell you that it’s possible!
Homeschooling an only child is a privilege that brings a harvest of blessings.
I love homeschooling my only child (most of the time!) but it does come with its challenges.
This series will show you the advantages and the challenges to homeschooling an only child.
We’ll also talk about the differences in homeschooling introverts and extraverts, tips for social opportunities, and a great list of resources just for homeschooling an only child.
People often assume many things about families that choose to have one child – some positive but more often negative.
Can You Really Homeschool an Only Child?
People generally assume homeschooling an only child is the easiest thing in the world.
After all, you only have one kid to manage and teach! And I’ll be honest, in some respects, it is easier – there’s less laundry, the house is (marginally!) cleaner, there’s more free time.
One of the biggest disadvantages (especially for introverted moms) is the need to always be ‘on’ – you are the sole educator and playmate for your child.
On the flip side, you have an opportunity to create a strong bond and relationship with your only child and homeschooling together only deepens that bond.
I know there are some who would think that of all homeschooling families, this is the one type of situation where you would want to put your child in a public or private school situation.
After all, they need to learn social skills somewhere, right?
Well, I believe social skills are actually better learned FROM the family, not some random group of age-related peers.
Should You Homeschool An Only Child?
Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean that you should.
However, in my opinion, whether a child is an only child or has siblings shouldn’t make a difference when it comes to deciding whether homeschooling is right for your family.
Homeschooling any number of children is hard, and it’s no secret that different-sized families are going to present their own unique difficulties.
However, let’s remember that homeschooling is also an incredible privilege.
Homeschooling A Shy Only Child
Many children are shy, however, it can distinctly affect only children more than children with siblings.
The most important thing with a shy only child is that you don’t push them too hard. Instead, set a social framework and allow them to experience different social situations.
I’ve found that starting a basic social framework from an early age allows children to get used to being in different or uncomfortable social situations.
In most cases, as your child gets older they will be less shy as they begin to experience different social situations. Remember, shy people aren’t antisocial, they are just shy.
Ensuring Socialization For An Only Child
The primary definition for the word ‘socialization’ is the act of passing on our culture and beliefs to our children, something that is much more important than time spent socializing.
Learning to be social and spending time with friends is also important and something that those with only children need to be more intentional about.
Only children need to acquire the skills that other children with siblings acquire naturally. They need to learn respect for others and their property, sharing, and cooperation.
This is certainly something that is easier to do with siblings!
Homeschool families need to create opportunities for their kids to learn these skills. Here are a few ways to foster those social experiences:
Playdates are a great way to allow an only child the ability to experience social scenarios with other children.
You can structure playdates with neighbours children, with families you’ve met at homeschooling co-op, with families you meet at church or with group members from groups of which your child is a part of.
Regular play dates are a great way to allow you to have a break while your child goes to their friend’s house only to exchange the favor to another family a week or two later.
Find Other Homeschooling Families With An Only Child
Sharing ideas as a homeschooling mom is exactly why I began this blog. I learnt an incredible amount from a number of free online resources when I first began homeschooling.
In the same way, you can meet and discuss with other homeschooling families with just one child and share what works for you.
There’s a number of different ways you can meet homeschooling families with an only child;
- There’s a number of forums for homeschooling families often with threads specifically for homeschooling families with an only child.
- In addition to this, you’ll often find local homeschool groups on Facebook. Again, you can often find a number of other families here who are homeschooling an only child.
- Homeschool co-ops are another way to find homeschooling families who have just one child.
Volunteer As A Family
Toddlers and kindergarteners may seem too young to volunteer, however, there are plenty of local opportunities that little ones and parents can do together.
An while young children may not fully grasp the concept of volunteering, there are still incredible benefits to exposing children to volunteer experiences from an early age.
Some ideas include;
- Placing bird feeders in the yard for local wild birds
- Adopt a family during the holidays
- Visit a nursing home
- Help at a local animal shelter
- Pet sit for a neighbor when they go out of town
- Host or participate in a community clean-up day
- Serve meals at a homeless shelter
- Donate books or art supplies to local causes
- Pick up trash around the neighborhood
- Start a community garden
- Volunteer at local hospitals
- Decorate a senior center for a holiday
- Make care packages for the homeless
Join A Club Or Homeschool Co-Op
The true definition of a homeschooling co-op will vary depending on the co-op’s goals.
However, the core principle is for homeschooling families to come together to share the education of their children.
My favorite kind of homeschooling co-ops is less commital such as a homeschool buyers co-op that offers discounts on homeschool materials.
However, most specifically to educating only children, social homeschool co-ops where families meet up for field trips, outside classes, and more.
The Importance Of Family In A Homeschool
Children will reach an age where they will want to have lots of friends.
That’s completely natural (even for kids with many siblings) but that doesn’t mean you need to ship them off to public or private school the moment they express that feeling.
If anything, it’s more important to make sure those family ties are even stronger. The family should be the centre of your child’s world, not their friends or social connections.
It’s easy for homeschooling moms to feel guilty when their kids reach this age and believe that they are missing out on all those social experiences.
Don’t fall for that guilt. Friendships are important and need to be cultivated, but certainly not at the expense of your child’s education or family attachments.
I highly recommend the book Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld. It explains the importance of family relationships and why you want to keep that first in your child’s life.
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