an only child
Hoosier Homeschooler #3.000 | February,
I am going back and fourth trying to make the
right decision for my family for next school year. My son is an
only child and we are thinking of homeschooling him next year.
But I have concerns with him being the only child. He goes to
church, 4-H, has friends that live down the road (and they homeschool.)
I guess I just want to make sure that going from public school
to homeschooling isn't going to be too much on himgoing
from being around children 24/7 in public school, then going to
no interaction with other children on a daily basis. Do you have
any advice for parents who homeschool only children?
I remember your position well.
We began homeschooling our only child in 4th
gradeafter an excellent experience in a public school no
less. We wanted to take advantage of the educational value of
the tutor-environment of homeschooling and eventually avoid our
less than adequate middle school.
I was absolutely scared to death that we would
end up as the silent mom and daughter sitting at the kitchen table
in stark solitude. So I jumped in like we were killing snakes
right out of the gate. I considered "Socialization" as one of
our core subjects and we made some financial commitments to make
We got a family membership to the YMCA. (Fishers
branch has lots of homeschool classes, by the way.) She joined
a travel soccer team. (The cheap kind is approx. $200/season.)
She joined the Indianapolis Children's choir. I found just about
every homeschool group in the Indianapolis area and kept my ear
to the tracks for "things to do". We joined groups for
field trips, park days, service projects and just about every
activity I could find. I did this with a burning desire to form
a social network for her that I know all people need.... But truly
over these last 3 years, the social network that got a major boost
and has been the lifeblood of our homeschool is our "family
By this, I mean that we have grown closer as
a family. I believe our time together is more plentiful and more
meaningful because we are a homeschooling family. In public school
the shear quantity of time devoted to school prep, school, school
functions and homeworksucked the blood out of family time.
School was the tail wagging the dog....
To make an valid comparison, you do need to
take an honest look at just how much positive social interaction
your child receives from the school setting. And while you are
at it, ask yourself a couple of my favorite questions:
1) Does this (activity) represent real life?
2) Is this going to be a situation your child
will regularly experience as an adult and therefore will need
some training in it?
For instance, let's look at an average public
As an adult, will your child regularly be in
a large group of adults their same age, be told what to do by
a leader, be expected to keep up with the pace of the other adultsrequired
to speed up or slow down to keep pace? Hmmmm.
I had many work experiences and not one was
similar to this. After looking at 'schooling' in this new light,
I concluded that that type of learning environment wasn't "real
world" at all.
Take the social aspect: Will your child, as
an adult, socialize with all the same age adults? If so, do you
think that is healthy? I don't. I value the wisdom of my older
friends and the vigor of my younger friends.
I had the luxury of growing up with older adults
in my life, but no younger children. That experience, I recognize,
is a deficit in my childhood experiencebeing able to relate
to younger children and babies.
My point here is obvious, "real life"
and homeschooling includes all ages. "Schooling" by
age and geographic location segregates and discourages social
So how about this: The timetable of a typical
school day is so tight that information must be literally pushed
into the brains of the students. Children stay all day, every
day at your schooleven if they have a stellar performance
record. People don't realize that attendance is compulsory
in today's public schools, not education.
So are these examples "real life"
adult experiences? Is there a boss out there anywhere that is
going to tell your grown adult child exactly how to solve the
problems on the job? Is the force-feeding of information optimally
teaching that child how to think through problems and DISCOVER
I am a public school kid but my public school
didn't seem to revolve around standards the way they seem to now.
So I know I CANNOT compare my public school experience to anything
my child would receive today.
The word "Inquiry" is a buzz word
in the educational world right now. Why? Because they realize
it is critical for children to mentally discover, explore and
research the world around them. And yet THAT TAKES TIME schools
have available to them. They are too busy rushing through their
standards and teaching to the test. They have to do that because
funding depends on it. I understand their system. I understand
why they have to do what they do. I sympathize with their IMPOSSIBLE
task. But because I understand the system, should participation
in that system me mandatory for my child? These are questions
all parents need to ask themselves, then act accordingly.
Here's what I decided: I WAS IN A POSITION
TO TAKE OUR CHILD OUT OF THAT IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION AND DO SOMETHING
ABOUT ITSO I DID.
The first two years this burning desire to
find friends for our daughter just about consumed me. We met homeschoolers
from all over. And most importantly, we met homeschoolers who
not only live nearby but also share many of our interests.
It's a treasure hunt and it's worth it.
Now we are on our third year homeschooling.
I've instigated field trips and play outings and clubs and whatever
I think I cannot provide by myself in a one-child environment.
You will have to work at it. You will have to find things to get
you both out of the housethough maybe not every single day.
And you know what? It's fun! It will breathe the life back into
you. And those scared feelings you have in the beginning, will
simply recede with every action you take.
You are so fortunate to have a homeschooling
family in the neighborhood. I can almost guarantee there are more
nearby. You'll find them.
It's amazing that even after three years we
just found (last week) a homeschooler in her choir who she sees
twice a week. She lives almost within walking distance and we
didn't even know she homeschooled! Confounded homeschoolers! They're
beneath every rock! But ya gotta get out there and look!
So where are we now? In a comfortable place.
We have found really nice families and really nice kids with whom
we CHOOSE to socialize. Even now as we cut back drastically on
those expensive activities in light of the economic impact on
our household, we know that we've found them and it doesn't take
cash to nurture the relationships.
You need to expose yourself a bit. Join every
homeschool YahooGroup that interests you. IndianaHomeschoolers
is a statewide group that networks with many local groups. Homeschooling
information is always a few clicks away.
Once you are comfortable with a group, you
will want to introduce yourself, your general location and the
age of your child on those YahooGroups. Take a deep breath and
jump in! Look at it as an adventure. Some you will try only once,
some will hook you entirely. I can tell you are on your way. Just
like I was.
I think that if I were given a chance to do
everything all over, my only wish would be that I would've started
Keep talking to us. There are decades worth
of amazing experience in this group.
Well it's time for me to go. We're starting
late this morning because we were out late last night socializing
with a ton of homeschool friends at a talent show!