Should You Homeschool An Only Child?
By Andrea Mulder-Slater
PHOTO © UberImages/iStock
Jun 14, 2017
I had every intention of sending my daughter to school, but we somehow morphed into a homeschooling family instead.
My daughter is an only child ... most of the homeschoolers I come in contact with have more than one kid.
Like most homeschoolers, my reasons for assuming full responsibility for my daughter’s education are varied. To be truthful, a food allergy diagnosis was a big motivator. I couldn’t visualize propelling my four-year-old and her EpiPens out into the world, and trusting young friends with things like walnuts in the carrot cake.
But we quickly became hooked on homeschooling. My daughter was able to work at her own pace. She had time to focus on her developing interests. She was getting ample sleep, eating healthy meals, traveling, drawing, painting and playing. She was learning how to learn. We were spending a lot of quality time together. She was happy, and so was I.
There was just one little thing.
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My daughter is an only child while most of the homeschoolers I come in contact with have more than one kid. They can learn about sharing, teasing, compromise and competition from their siblings. We were the odd family out, and I wondered if I was doing her a disservice by keeping her away from regular contact with her peers.
I would need to spend extra effort to continue homeschooling, for my daughter’s sake and for my own peace of mind. Because, let’s face it, our job as parents should be to raise well-rounded, social beings who can co-operate and collaborate with one another.
Here are five things you can do to keep your only child connected while breaking the stereotype of the unsocialized homeschooler.
Connect With Other Homeschoolers
I highly recommend joining or forming a homeschool group. We belong to one with 50 other families with kids ranging in age from five to 15. The kids attend marine biology classes at an aquarium, participate in science days at a university, study French with a retired schoolteacher, learn how to play ukulele at a local high school, get together for STEM classes and science fairs, go on field trips and have holiday-themed parties. This gives my daughter much-needed social time with other people.
If there aren’t any activities available, organize some. Offer to host weekly lessons on a topic you’re familiar with, or set up classes at a local art gallery or library.
Encourage Your Child to Participate in Team Sports
Whether it’s soccer, basketball, speed skating, or hockey, getting together with other kids on a regular basis will help your child learn how to work with a team toward a common goal.
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Jump Into Group Activities
Sign your kiddo up for after-school, weekend, or school break activities based on special interests. Whether it’s a library program, swimming lessons, or a drama club, your child will learn new skills while seeing familiar faces and making new friends. Similarly, make summertime social time with day programs and/or overnight camps.
Make Time for Friendships
Siblings have built-in playmates while singletons often look to mom or dad. This is intensified when you are homeschooling, so make sure you schedule lots (and lots) of time for your child to get together with pals in an unstructured environment. Your child may not need a squad, but having at least one good friend goes a long way.
Listen to Your Kid
Homeschooling should be a positive experience for both child and parent, so if either one of you are struggling on a regular basis, it’s time to re-evaluate. Sometimes what’s best for your youngster might mean driving to the nearest school. But if your kiddo is thriving and everyone is happy, homeschooling can be the best experience in the world.
Should you homeschool an only child? Absolutely. Yes. Four years after landing where we are, I can honestly say that my daughter and I wouldn’t have it any other way.