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#1 of 12 Old 01-16-2012, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Homeschooling / Unschooling an only child?  Is this advisable (I imagine it's at least possible, but is it humane?)?

 

My daughter is only a year and a half old, but I just read a fun and cool book, "Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days" by Nancy Landes and it is kind of discouraging in the only children department (out of the 30 families represented, zero have only one child).  I kind of like my family the way it is and don't really want another kid, but I also want to keep my options open regarding Tessa's eventual schooling process.

 

Any advice?

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#2 of 12 Old 01-16-2012, 09:38 PM
 
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I have a friend who is unschooling her only child, and while it is challenging, she wouldn't have it any other way. She makes sure her dd gets plenty of play dates and such, and has her in a few things like an outdoor school one day a month and the local Y's homeschool PE program, along with an Aikido class. While she would really like to have one or two neighbors her dd could hang out with regularly, she uses her car a lot, lol. I really think it's easier than what we are doing, which is with two kids nearly 7 years apart -- their needs often conflict and they rarely play together.

Anyway, best of luck!


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#3 of 12 Old 01-17-2012, 04:46 AM
 
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I am homeschooling an only, at times I've unschooled her but lately we are leaning more towards classical homeschooling.  Anyway, what are your concerns exactly?  I've not had any problems with it at all, in fact I often wonder how people homeschool more than one!  (I know it can be done well, it just seems so much more complicated!)


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#5 of 12 Old 01-17-2012, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Attila the Honey View Post

I am homeschooling an only, at times I've unschooled her but lately we are leaning more towards classical homeschooling.  Anyway, what are your concerns exactly?  I've not had any problems with it at all, in fact I often wonder how people homeschool more than one!  (I know it can be done well, it just seems so much more complicated!)



I feel like when people homeschool at least 2 kids, they end up playing a lot and learning from each other, and spurring each other to be creative, etc.  Also I guess they will also bicker and fight etc, but that's part of being socialized.  I'm just worried that she won't grow emotionally the way she could if she's "stranded" with me and my partner all the time, even with playdates etc.  I don't want her world to be too crazily insular; I think she needs to be exposed to things I or her dad wouldn't have thought of.  Also, conflict resolution with similar-age peers is probably an important skill that you can't exactly "teach".  Do these concerns make sense?  I don't feel great about how school works, but I want her world to be big...at the same time, I don't think I want another baby.  I am close with my own siblings so I am worried about raising an only child in general, but the schooling part seems especially tricky.

 

It sounds like you're doing a really good job though so I'd like to hear more!  Any other only-homeschoolers?

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#6 of 12 Old 01-17-2012, 06:36 AM
 
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We homeschool an only, and we are unschooly for the time being at least. I don't find it challenging at all.

 

I am also not worried about her "social development" at all. DD is already social; we'd have to work hard to mess that up, actually. Honestly I'm having a hard time picturing exactly what damage homeschooling is supposedly going to do to her. Is she going to stop being verbal and start drooling and scratching her chest? Not being snarky, just challenging people to really visualize exactly what they are afraid of and try to see how that could happen.

 

Kids are wired differently, and some are shy - and homeschooling doesn't create that, and public school doesn't cure that. Some are awkward - ditto homeschooling not creating and public school not curing. Some are naturally friendly, social kids - and homeschooling sure doesn't mess that up!

 

I think some people consider homeschooling "locking kids in the closet" but that's not homeschooling; that's extreme abuse - and not related any more than "feeding your kid oranges" and "feeding your kid nothing but oranges" aren't related.

 

DH and I are introverts, so you might even say it takes us extra effort to get her out into the world. But honestly, even in our introverted ways, it's not that hard and it happens naturally. DD has all kinds of friends around town.

 

If your kid is already able to relate well to people, then your job is simple. Don't mess it up. And it's hard to mess it up, really.

 

If your kid is shy or awkward, then you have a little more work to do. But you'd have more work to do even sending them to public or private school. I was not shy as a kid (at first), but awkward (and ended up shy as a result of a lot of rejection), and believe me, my mom had to put in a lot of effort to help counter the effects of a bunch of kids wired to reject the little short girl in the glasses and hearing aids. And of course she could never fully counter that, ever. My point isn't that public or private school is going to mess your kid up (I am NOT anti-school) but that it's a pure fallacy to assume that school is the most beneficial place to socialize your children, especially if they need extra help in this arena.


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#7 of 12 Old 01-17-2012, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by laohaire View Post

We homeschool an only, and we are unschooly for the time being at least. I don't find it challenging at all.

 

I am also not worried about her "social development" at all. DD is already social; we'd have to work hard to mess that up, actually. Honestly I'm having a hard time picturing exactly what damage homeschooling is supposedly going to do to her. Is she going to stop being verbal and start drooling and scratching her chest? Not being snarky, just challenging people to really visualize exactly what they are afraid of and try to see how that could happen.

Hey, laohaire,

 

Not to be negative, but this was kind of a bummer to read...I mean, are my concerns not legitimate?  I thought they were.  I know every child is different (obviously!), and I know everybody's schooling approach is different.  These things go without saying.  I don't have time to try to state my concerns again, but I'm not stupid.  I think mine is a fine question and possibly of interest to others who haven't started homeschooling yet. 

 

I am interested in people's experiences, I love hearing how people manage and deal with things.  Please have some respect for someone who hasn't started homeschooling yet...and no, I don't think homeschooling is equivalent to locking the child away, and I don't think school is going to make them socially graceful.  I am not here to perpetuate stereotypes or have them relayed to me.  I just want to hear about diverse experiences.  Okay?

 

EDIT

 

Hi again, here I am to edit this (maybe half an hour later).  Now that I've had a chance to think about it, I can see why you were inclined to be so sarcastic and unfriendly.  My question is implicitly a criticism of what you are doing, ie, homeschooling an only child.  I can see that it looks like that, and I want to make it clear that I really don't think homeschooling an only child is wrong in blanket terms.  Generalizing is not what I want to do here.  I have every bit of faith that it can be absolutely perfect for some families.  What I was hoping for was some advice or perspective from different people so I can figure out if it's right for mine.

 

Of course kids can get social experience in many ways, chiefly the community they live in.  We live in a city right now where we have lots of friends with little kids and can anticipate plenty of support.  However, I want to move away and live in a rural place with my family.  What I'm trying to sort out here is how to make my lifestyle choices fair for my daughter.  We won't be able to afford private or alternative school, and I have the familiar concerns about public school (teaching to the test, heavy use of computers [a bit hypocritical in this context, I know] etc etc).

 

Anyway, sorry for sounding so sharp and defensive at first, and sorry if my original question was worded poorly.  But please do respect my intelligence and trust that I'm not trying to be critical of the choices of others.

 

 

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#8 of 12 Old 01-17-2012, 09:44 AM
 
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DaisyO - I think you will be amazed to see how much other children invade, I mean ENTER, your life as your child grows up.  LOL  Right now I have a house full of noisy, wild kids.  (There's no school here today, so all the school children in the neighborhood have congregated at my house.  Also, dd had 2 homeschooling friends spend the night last night.)   There is never any shortage of opportunities to learn conflict resolution!   Between neighborhood kids, homeschooling groups, getting together with family and cousins, Sunday school, her zoo class etc. there are plenty of opportunities to be around other kids.  And, I think we are more introverted than most - I don't really seek out ways for her to be around other kids.

 

There are stretches when it feels like we've been insular, and I think that is OK, too.  

 

 


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#9 of 12 Old 01-17-2012, 09:48 AM
 
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I hesitate to weigh in as my daughter is only five years old but will say I share your concerns about the social aspect of homeschooling. To ease my fears and address the issue I am sure to provide many different social opportunities for my daughter from near daily trips to the park for free play with whatever children happen to be there to structured art classes and early team sports that are more about friend finding than the activity at hand, to playing with neighborhood children, scheduling playdates and attending events for homeschool children in the community. I have also provided in-home child care in the past to provide her with social opportunities and may do afterschool care next year for the same reason. My daughter spends time with children younger than her, right at her age, and older children and also has many adults in her life with whom she spends time and who talk with her and play with her as well. 
 
Due to my daughter's autumn birthday she was no eligible for a number of homeschool activities that take place during the day but she will be next year allowing her the opportunity to interact with children on most days of the week. If anything I may have to cut out some activities during the afterschool hours and weekends as not to have our schedule overwhelmed and focus on cultivating connections and talents that are most desired by both of us. 
 
Finding information on home educating only children has proven to be extremely difficult. Most of the arguments about homeschooling providing adequate social opportunities fails to address my concerns or ease my fears and it often feels as if I'm wandering a path alone as most of the advice centers around families with multiple children. Rationally I know it can be done. I know there are a myriad of opportunities available to connect a child with peers and the larger community. I know this can be done if I'm willing to make the effort but as a worrier it's difficult to not listen to that nagging voice. Worrying might be my greatest talent.  
 
With all that said, I do believe having an only child brings some perk, even advantages, to homeschooling, including the 1:1 parent/teacher-child ratio and the opportunity to allocate all financial resources to one child. I never planned to have an only child but my misbehaving uterus had other plans for me. The field trips we've been able to take and the ones we have yet to take, the hands-on activities we can do together, the financial means to SAH, homeschool, and save for the future have all proven to be "consolation prizes" of fertility issues and are factors that make homeschooling easier for me than it is for many of my friends with more children. The resource of time also allows me to find social activities for my daughter, host playdates and homeschool events, and be involved in my community to make more connections for her easing the burden of the *practical* aspects of my 'home educating the only child' concerns easier. 
 
There is a blog I really enjoy authored by a woman who has been home educating her only child for a number of years. (Link: http://beautythatmoves.typepad.com/beauty_that_moves/) Reading through her archives has been inspiring and comforting to me not only when it comes to homeschooling but parenting an only child in general. Her photography is beautiful too. ;)

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#10 of 12 Old 01-17-2012, 12:30 PM
 
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Hey, I didn't mean to dismiss your concerns. I guess there's a fine line between saying "really, nothing to worry about" and "you're worried over nothing."

 

The challenge about what you'd think would happen wasn't meant to dismiss you, but to.. well, challenge you. Fears are often about murky, vague things, and if we take the time to really figure out what we're afraid of, that can sometimes eliminate the fear all by itself.

 

Please also understand that "but how will they be SOCIALIZED" is the most common objection to homeschooling, which can be tiresome to homeschoolers. Not that I'm saying you don't have a right to ask this question, and of course if I'm tired of answering a question I'm welcome to not answer it. I wanted to add my answer, though, and tried to keep the answer fresh rather than tiresome. Maybe I failed. Also I might have projected some of the common complaints onto you - because, really, it does sound like everybody (you know, my SIL, my neighbor, whatever) thinks I'm locking DD in a closet. I didn't think you thought so, but thought that challenging you to really think about your fears might help you say "hmm, you know what, of course it's not going to be like that."

 

OK, reading your edit now... yikes, see, I didn't mean to be unfriendly at all.

 

I think a later poster said it better... you will be surprised at how effortless it is. I mentioned that DH and I are introverts. But we end up with kids in the house and playdates elsewhere anyway. I mean, sure, there is a little effort involved, but I don't even really consider it effort because it's all folded into my desire to be a good parent. Making DD a snack is effort, you know? But you do it because you love them, and it's not even that big of a deal.

 

So you wanted experiences. Well, DD is 6 years old. She has friends, and quite a variety - some closer than others, some boys and some girls. They are as young as 3 and as old as 11. Just talking about peers, of course - she is also friendly with adults. All (and I do mean all) the librarians know her by name. Ditto the postal workers. You get the idea.

 

We have fewer social activities in the winter, since spontaneous social activities happen a lot more often in the warm weather. That's ok with us. In the summer she might have 2 standing playdates in a particular week, plus plenty of time at the park or the lake (she often ends up playing with some kid or another there). Even in the winter, she goes to the library once a week, and often will play with a kid there. She has several physical activities - swim, gymnastics, creative dance. She knows kids in all the classes and interacts with them during the class. She plays with neighbors (I call the group of them The Neighborhood Horde, as when they get together they just go galloping around the neighborhood together in a herd). So she gets both group and one on one time.

 

She can judge if a kid or group is receptive and is willing to try to join (so she's not shy). She is as polite as can be expected from a 6 year old (pretty polite, actually!). Her friends come from a variety of backgrounds, though unfortunately are not very racially diverse (we live in a very undiverse area).

 

How much effort do we put into it? Well, we take her to the YMCA. we take her to the park and library and stuff. Like I said, it's not like we have to put a lot of attention into social activities per se. It just happens along with other things. People invite themselves over, lol. They invite her over.

 

I even think in a rural area it would be the same even if the details were different. DH and I were looking to move to a rural place last year (it didn't happen) but we noted there was a library, a 4-H club, a lake, etc. In our case, we would have had neighbors close enough to play with if they had kids. I would have joined something myself - I don't know, a ladies cooking group, a Bible study, it doesn't even matter what. And many of the people there would have had kids. It just happens like that.

 

Very small, true story from this week. DH took DD to the grocery store to do the weekly shop. While shopping, they ran into a kid (and her mother) that DD sometimes plays with at the library. DH and the mom got to chatting, and the kids played for a good half hour right there in the grocery store - really, they had a great time, racing up and down the aisle, hopping, all sorts of things. DH and the mom exchanged last names and now are connected on Facebook, with a promise to get together for a playdate. It just happens.

 

DD's swim teacher loves DD. And she has a granddaughter. One time her swim teacher wanted to come over our house to drop some hand-me-downs off. She brought her granddaughter, who is 9 years old (DD is 6). They totally hit it off! So now they are friends and get together. BTW the kid from the grocery store was 3. DD can relate to all sorts of kids, and I think that's just great. And it just happens!

 

So, not to dismiss you, but... it really does just happen. I grant you that our story is easier than some other stories would be, because DD doesn't have any problems in the social department. However, I don't think homeschooling is a problem - at all - even for kids who need the extra help.

 

Here's another experience. I used to know a kid (they moved away) who was homeschooled. His mother was very, very shy, and he was also very slow to take to new people, and very reserved. But things still worked the same way for them. His mother took him to playgroups. To the park. The museum. Whatever. And even though she was painfully shy herself, and her son too, she had amassed quite a few friends for him by the time they moved. I'm sure it was slightly more of an effort for her, but she still managed just fine. I know they had a good amount of friends for him because they'd have birthday parties every year, and there were always quite a few kids, and I could tell he was friends with them all.

 

I know some other people who knew this family - and not all of them crunchy. The non-crunchy ones were kind of appalled at their choice to homeschool. I remember one guy in particular was going on and on about how SHY they were making their son "because" they were homeschooling him. This was when the kid was 4 years old, and I even pointed out to this guy "um, he wouldn't even be in kindergarten, how does their choice to homeschool IN THE FUTURE make him shy today?" Anyway, there's no reasoning with people. Everybody pointed the finger at them for "making" their son shy. They got the last laugh when they had their second son - who turned out to be as gregarious as his father! So they had one son who took after his mother and the other after his father. That's just how it is. Our job as parents is just to work with what we've got and not screw it up, that's how I see it.


Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#11 of 12 Old 01-17-2012, 01:31 PM
 
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I am homeschooling two...but I do have friends who are homeschooling an only.  Quite honestly I'm a bit envious of all the cool things they can do with their homeschooler that are out of reach for me.  For one thing, the only kids seem to make really good academic progress because of the lack of distractions in their home.  When they do schoolwork, they can really get into it, and their parent can really focus on it with them.  My homeschooling-an-only friends seem to cover more material, and go deeper into it, and make it more fun than I am able to.  I would love to do that with our 8 yo but the 6 yo is very demanding and distracting, so DS1's schoolwork is harder for him to do and takes him longer.  I am not able to focus with him as I would like.  It also makes it more difficult to make it fun.

 

The only-kids seem to finish for the day earlier and are looking to meet up with friends at parks or gyms.  They are also are taking more fun classes like drama and art, and attending more nature programs and special events.  I have to pass that stuff up.  Just getting school stuff done for both and keeping the house from looking like a tornado went through takes up all the time I have.  The only-kids also seem to get in more trips to museums or field trips that are either a long drive or a long day.   Most of those I just don't even consider doing yet because having the younger sibling to manage makes it too difficult.  Maybe in a couple more years I will be able to handle those kinds of outings, but for now DS1 misses out on that stuff while the friends with one kid or just older kids go do those things.   I see that homeschooling an only child can have some real advantages.

 

The homeschooling only-kids we know don't seem to be missing out on social time with other kids.  There are lots of things to get involved in with other kids, and they seem to be involved in a lot of stuff, that all appears to be more fun than school would be.   I suppose that could be difficult if you live in a community that doesn't have those activities available.   But I haven't met any bored, lonely only-kid homeschoolers here.  The ones I have met are very interested in their academics,  their hobbies, their classes, the awesome special projects they get involved in, and the field trips they take.  They also seem to have plenty of friends. 


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#12 of 12 Old 01-17-2012, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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hey thanks these are ALL great to read.  Thank you for the blog link too.  Does anybody know of a blog though where the lady doesn't have a huge perfect house (or even a small and okay one)?  Like, any nice blogs from somebody who lives in a trailer or crappy apartment and has a cool kid and is happy?  I'd be into that

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