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Homeschooling an Only Child

2757 Views 16 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  SereneBabe
I feel called to homeschool -- I used to teach at university level and I still love learning. I think DD and I could learn a lot together and have fun together. I also think because she is so sweet and sensitive that homeschooling would be good for her. I also want to continue raising her media-free, since she is such a smart, imaginative, creative kid. (She doesn't watch TV or videos, no video games, no character toys or books, etc.) After just a few months in a part-time preschool she knows all the Disney princesses, etc., from her friends. Ugh.

HOWEVER. She is an only child. We live in a state we just moved to 6 months ago. We have no family within a day's drive. We live in the country with no neighbors. All of which means she has no friends without school.

Do I enroll her in public kindergarten next fall so she can make friends and socialize or do I homeschool her and try to make friends in a homeschool group? She doesn't need help getting along with kids -- she has friends from preschool and from the Y and she seems well-liked by other kids. But I think getting along with a group of other kids on a day-to-day basis teaches more about getting along in the world than getting along with other kids on a limited basis, especially since they would be playmates I would choose for her to spend time with.

DH does NOT want me to homeschool. I am home full-time with her now, so it wouldn't mean me giving up a paycheck. He just feels she would be lonely.

I am torn. I want to do what is best for my child. I just don't know what is best.

I would love to hear from other parents who homeschool their only child. How are your children doing with socialization? How do you make sure they develop friendships? Any advice on how to make this decision?

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I don't have time to write much right now, but I just wanted to quickly say that we have always homeschooled our only dd, age 10, and it has been fine for her socially... We have also lived in isolated places and traveled a lot , and there were times when she went for a few months at a time without playing with another kid. I think those experiences helped her to be the kind of kid who can make a friend anywhere, and is flexible and able to get along with almost anyone.
Remember, you are not making a lifetime decision here... you can see how your child is doing and adjust as you go along.
We've just begun HS DS, 5 this year and he's an only. And he's an amazingly social kid--I've heard several times: "Oh, but he'd get along so well with everyone in school!"
What I've found is that the quality of his relationships in the homeschool community are so much higher than what he would have in school. When we get together with friends, he has hours to develop play scenarios. And he gets the opportunity to really work together with his friend--even getting frustrated together and learning to really resolve things together.
I've found that the social opportunities in the homeschool world, although possibly fewer and further between, are much richer than I saw when DS was in preschool.
my dd is 5 and it suits her best to homeschool - she is also sweet and sensitive and did a bit of pre-school this year and wanted to homeschool, didn't like the chaos, etc. but made some good friends, likes playing with one child at a time, etc but also doesn't ask for play dates for weeks on end. i think homeschooling an only is fine, just as valid as homeschooling siblings... it's not like siblings always like each other or always play together :))
My DD is starting K in the fall and we're homeschooling. She's an only (at this point at least). She's also very sociable and will strike up conversation and make momentary friends with people of any age. We try to get together with homeschooling friends regularly who have kids both older and younger than her. In the fall I'm going to enroll her in an enrichment program through one of the public school districts out here. It'll be one day a week of kindergarten-y things for her to do. She will likely also be in scouts and some extra curricular class like dance or swim or gymnastics through the city, and I'll likely be babysitting a friend's daughter after school who will also be in K. Plenty of time to hang out with other kids, kwim?

The 'socialization' I recieved in public school did not endear me to it as a venue for finding friends for my child or giving her an outlet to associate with peers. It's entirely possible to have a lonely childhood while in public school.
I have an only who has never been to school and it's been going very well. I think he is learning more about getting along in the real world by being out in it (and at home).

We also have so much flexibility in our lives because we are not tied to a school calendar and school hours. That means he gets to have a lot of interesting experiences, such as travel and outdoor activities.

We live far from all family too, but we're always free to spend lots of time with them when they come to visit and DS and I can visit when we want. He was so excited to be in the U.S. for Halloween and Thanksgiving last year, something that would have been impossible were he in school.

If you are really feeling it (that desire to homeschool) then you should, imo, keep researching it. Like a PP said, it's not a permanent decision. The fact that your DD is an only child is not a reason to send her to school, lots of onlies homeschool happily.

Oh and I don't hand-pick the children my child is allowed to socialize with. I take him places he likes to go and he plays with children he likes. He plays with a much wider variety of children than he would being in a class with kids of all the same age who all live in the same place.

I think school is where he'd get along with kids on a "limited basis" even if he would be physically surrounded by kids for many hours per day there. I also don't have to worry that he will be picked on or that he'll pick on other kids. IMO it's a healthier type of "getting along with kids".

**eta** I put those phrases in quotes only to show that they were the same wording as used in the OP (to make it clear we were talking about the same things) and not because I wanted to say those things in a snotty tone! They should just be read normally! Thanks!
**end of edit

My DH thought our DS would be lonely too. I think it's a common worry. Sometimes it takes doing it for awhile to put those worries to rest.
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When my oldest was little and we home schooled him I worried about the socialization as well. He is naturally a very shy child and has a hard time getting to know new people so H/S'ing only made that tougher. I took it year by year. He eventually went to school for a couple of years (and he made friends finally) and we also had two more children along the way and now they are in school while he is again home schooling.

You could start checking around in your area now for a home school group to become a part of. You could do that for now and see how it goes. If you decide it will be too hard for your child to have time with other children her age then you could always send her to a school outside the home. Although, IMO socialization can occur anywhere a child is around other people, not just those in their own age range.
So your child can still get social time in.

We definitely take it year by year in our house. What works for a while might change and we do something different, whatever works for the child and parent both is most important.
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I think it depends on your only child's personality whether they will be lonely. The situation you describe might require a lot more effort if your dc is very extroverted.

As a homeschooling family you can-
join a homeschool group
take field trips
do errands together
arrange playdates
babysit regularly
participate in activities like art classes, swim lessons, church, dance, gymnastics, music, sports, scouts, 4H, summer camp
volunteer in your community

My dd (almost 8) has never been to school.
She has an introverted personality and doesn't desire/need contact with same age peers on a daily basis. She has always liked older kids a bit better.
We have moved several times. We've been here for a year now and have made a few friends. Dd gets along well with the children we know. She gets along great with adults. She isn't lonely most of the time.
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We are relatively new ....well actually I guess I have been doing this 2 years now. Dd picks her activities and is happy to be on the go, or at home.
We don't have many kids in the neighborhood so we do have to plan/schedule for friends over. I too, too for some reason was really worried and concerned about homeschooling our only. Especially some of the looks to the answer I gave at some activities "Where are yours?".
. well, she is right over there! and the "oh...insert silence here".

I let her play with schooled kids as well as homeschooled kids, sometimes I have found in the h.s group some people make a purposeful avoidance of being around "those public school kids" well I could tell you a thing or two about some homeschool kids too. Can't see the fores through the trees ya know.

Someone mentioned that doing it for a while puts the worrying to rest....that was very well put and I think EXACTLY what happened for our family. Give it a try. I have asked her if she wants to try public school....and she says no (she did try it for a week). Recently she told the nurse and the doctor's office when asked how she liked h.s. "I LOVE IT!"
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We've homeschooled our only dd 9.5 for the last 4 years. We found it much easier for her to make and keep friends with our hs group than when she was at the Montessori school. She has one neighborhood friend that goes to school, but tons of friends from hs'ing.

It's great!
Well I understand your fears as DS is an only and I am currently homeschooling him. If we were in Canada I would not be as concerned about socialization because we would have lots of opportunities. I live in another country and I am finding it a bit harder especially since most kids start going to school at 3 here so there are no kids at the park usually. There is not alot of organized sports and when I suggest summer camp DH didn't want to spend the money. So I take Ds with me everywhere and we go to the park and sometimes there are kids there to play and sometimes not. DS is getting better about playing by himself and making up an imaginary world. Right now our table is a whole dinosaur world with trees and volcano.
We're most likely going to HS our only DD who will be 5 this summer. We're in a co-op preschool now (because DD missed her toddler group friends), but this is our second/last year - and at this point, I think DD could take it or leave it. If it's not my work day, sometimes we just ditch preschool and go to the science museum or something.

My DD is very extroverted but also likes her quiet time. I'm glad we live in a large metro area so we have several options near us for interactions. DH and I are both mostly introverted so DD gets us out and about much of the time.

FWIW, I went to public school (back when K was still fun and games) and I didn't make any real friends until part way through 2nd grade. I think it really depends upon the kids' personalities. And DD and I haven't even really made any preschool friends I'd expect to see after this year even though we do a co-op. Her closest friends at preschool, she already knew - one is an MDC family we met a couple years ago; the other is a neighbor from across the street.

And like several others have pointed out here (and I keep reminding myself as well when I get flustered about the decision) it's not like once you make your decision it can never be changed.

Good luck with your decision.
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I just to have to say how PLEASANTLY SURPRISED I am that there are quite a few of us hsing an only!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks everybody for sharing!
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I'm relieved by all the comments, too! I'm an introverted mom of an extroverted only, and am considering HS, so it's great to hear personal experiences that show that it's doable!
I forgot all the advantages to hs'ing an only. You don't have to sort out many different learning styles, follow several different interests simultaneously, figure out who gets to go to activities since they are not all open to all ages, get them to their friend's or outside classes at the same time on different sides of town, etc. etc.

Most of the time, I am really very relieved to only have an only to hs, or at least that is how I chose to look at it.
I homeschool an only and she is far from lonely.

We are not a member of the homeschool group yet, but she takes various lessons, has friends, goes on outings. She can snuggle in my lap anytime she needs to.

Originally Posted by jennlindsey View Post
I'm relieved by all the comments, too! I'm an introverted mom of an extroverted only, and am considering HS, so it's great to hear personal experiences that show that it's doable!
It's also great for me to hear all these responses. Just wanted to add that my concern sometimes comes from the fact that I'm an introvert and my daughter is, too. So, it's really easy for us to just stay home. Not that it's bad, and we do have balance, but, it takes a little extra umph for us to get going out to stuff... when we're there it's obviously a good thing! :)
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