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Homeschooling an Only Child

Is it right to homeschool your only child? People will tell you that you must send your "only" to school so that he/she will have the chance to socialize. "Your child will be lonely at home without other children." Is this true? Or can you successfully homeschool an only child? The participants on's message boards offer their thoughts on this topic.

Waneece: We've home schooled our son since kindergarten. He is fifteen now and will be in the 10th grade. The only thing I've noticed that home schooling has done is made him very sociable. He loves going out with friends and has joined many home school and church teen organizations. I know quite a few home school families with only one child. It can be done. There are some advantages as well. I guess you can say he has his own private tutor. My son gets my undivided attention during school hours. I only have to keep track of one set of grades and I can concentrate on giving him whatever he needs to learn and grow. When we first started home schooling, we heard about all the cautions about him not being "socialized." We were concerned at first, but we prayed for good companions for him, we were careful to join an umbrella school with other students, and we looked for good organizations that he might like to join. I did not allow myself to worry about friends, I knew that the Lord would provide as he needed them. Now that he is fifteen, he has a good group of a few close friends that he sees regularly. Some of them are home schoolers, some go to public school, but they are all good kids. I really praise God that this has not been as big a concern as we first imagined.

My son hasn't always been outgoing. When my son was four he used to cling to my skirt when he was in a social situation he was unfamiliar with. But I never thought that behavior was abnormal. A little caution in a young child is a good thing nowadays. I doubt that I would characterize him as "outgoing" now. Like most people, he has some nervousness when a he's in a group he is unfamiliar with, but he won't run from the situation. He works at getting to know others, tells jokes (my son is a joker) and goofs around just like the rest of the boys his age. We've never believed in treating him like he was different from the other kids because he was home schooled, so he's never felt like he was different. We've always tried to encourage him to be himself and to ignore anyone who did not think that he was good enough. Even though we were concerned that he develop friendships, I don't think we went overboard with worry. We mostly left it up to the Lord, and I'd say He's done a pretty good job.

Lorraine in BC: We will soon start our 8th year with our only daughter, and while I will not tell you that it has not been a challenge at times - especially when she was younger, I will tell you that it has been the best thing we ever did for our daughter, for me, and for our family.

When our dd was younger, I was also struggling with myself, and with the Lord, about having only one child. I was very sad, and it took me several years to deal with this sadness, and the sadness of our dd. In the early years, I realised that I was going to have to be playmate more than other moms. It's just the way it is. Our 'School' only took a little time (the actual academics - and I would do this differntly now), and the whole day was ours to go on outings, play games, or whatever. I went out of my way to get her together with someone each week, and we would always make sure we went out somewhere once or twice on purpose while others were 'in school', and we always felt sorry for them stuck in the school while we were going to the beach or for a walk in the forest. Our daughter became used to it being just her and I, although there certainly were times when she wanted to play with someone and there was not always someone around. Often though, there were younger children around who were not yet at school, so for the first few years, these made up most of her daytime playmates (other than me!) The beauty of homeschooling, is that you will be able to develop a depth of relationship with your child that few other families can because their children are away from them for the most valuable hours of the day. My friends who homeschool, are the ones who have children who still listen to them, and care (most of the time) what their parents say, even when they hit the pre-teen and teen years. These are the children with whom I as an adult, can converse, and who address me and say more than one, one-syllable word in response to my greeting. You will have challenges, and you will have doubts, but you will be giving your child, you and your husband, a wonderful gift, a blessing beyond words.

Rita Anne: I have an only daughter. I do not worry at all about socialization. We have a few friends that she plays with. We attend church regularly. We have friends there that we visit as a family and she plays with their kids. To be honest I think she will be better off with a few well chosen playmates. Yes, she wants me to play with her a lot. It is not easy sometimes, but I know it is worth it. There will be no more kids in our family either, so I know that we will have unique challenges and blessings! In my opinion socialization is overrated. In school a good bit of it (most of it?) is negative. Kids learn bad attitudes and behaviors from other kids whose families do not share your values. I have read posts about how kids in kindergarten come home saying and doing things that their parents can't believe. Socialization is not necessarily a good thing. Providing opportunities for your children to play and be around other kids as you see fit is good enough.

Only Mom: I have to be completely honest and say that I have come to believe the "kids need other kids" thing is overrated. My daughter sees kids at Sunday school and church. She sees her older cousin. Occasionally we get together with my homeschool support group. Close friendships are hard to come by for adults and kids. Maybe your son says he is sad and lonely because he hears people saying he needs to be in school and be around other kids. He thinks he is missing something.

Tommy's Mommy: I also agree that the whole socialization thing is WAY over-rated. In our own adult lives, how much time do we spend with friends?

Julie in MN: Here are some thoughts to share with relatives who think your "only" should be in school.

First, remember that children in large school settings can still be lonely, and added to that can be the sting of rejection. In fact, I would say that it is more common than not.

Second, children in a school setting are not supposed to be socializing! In fact, I would say that the more socializing they are doing, the less learning they are doing. There was a funny article online I read once, about a woman who was told all her life by the nuns that "school is not a place to socialize," and then started homeschooling and was told just the opposite!

One successful homeschool mom of an only boy I know takes a walk every single afternoon -- I see them go by my house. Her son spends most afternoons in the back yard doing science projects. And every Friday they spend at the library. As her son has neared the teen years, she and her husband have organized activities for the older kids about every 2 weeks. They started with "game night" at their house. Then they started varying it with other activities as they got older, like bowling, flag football, movie and popcorn at home, etc. They have had more and more kids involved every year.

Lorelei: It will take some time to adjust, but she will learn to keep busy if you let her. There are several things you can do. One I love most is crafts. Get a vinyl tablecloth and spread it out on the floor. This saves on messes. Have playdough on hand, popsicle (spell) sticks, glue twine, ribbon or whatever, even dried beans. Tons of ideas. Paints and markers are good too.

Another thing is to do experiments outside that involve water, it serves the double service. Make cornstarch dough and create things you can harden and paint, make dolls out of flowers and toothpicks. Do a nature get the idea.

Computer games we liked were Jumpstart Spanish, Freddie Fish, (fun and uses critical thinking) and my son also really liked Amazon Trail and cyberchase. There are so many to choose from.

If you get her started you may be surprised as time goes by how she will find things to keep busy or make suggestions.

Angie P.: Dress up clothes. Get her lots of stuff she can use for pretend and dress up. It doesn't have to be fancy clothes. My 8 year old son is an only and we have no close neighbors. He can spend hours outside dressed in his camo clothes playing "army" or "hunting" or "secret agent" with his toy gun and his dog. Cheap halloween costumes come in handy. I don't know hour many hours he has spent as a Power Ranger or Batman, etc. He has recently renewed his interest in Legos also. He will spend a lot of time alone making things with legos. Resources Related to This Article

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