Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Disadvantage of Homeschooling an Only Child

There aren't any!

First of all, nearly everyone agrees that one-on-one instruction is the best way to learn. Since an only child is guaranteed to receive one-on-one instruction at home, where’s the disadvantage?  Oh, that’s right; it’s not the child’s education that is in question here. It always comes down to the socializing opportunities.

I’ve always said that homeschooling is what you make of it. Just as you're responsible for your child’s education, you're responsible for providing time to socialize. How much time you choose to devote to socializing depends on your child’s needs. God made each child unique. Every child should learn how to get along with others in public as well as at home.

The shy child will need to be encouraged to speak up and join in conversations but won’t want a large amount of time spent socializing with others, and that’s okay. I was a shy child, and I’ve grown up able to carry on a decent conversation and take care of myself. Honest!

A social butterfly (such as my son) wants a great deal of socializing! Your butterfly may want to socialize all day, every day, and ignore school work. It’s up to you to determine how many social events to include in your schedule.

You have many activities to choose from. There are homeschool co-ops, field trips, outside classes, clubs, community sports, and of course church activities. You may live in a neighborhood full of children or near a playground where your child can meet and play with other children. You can form a play group or arrange for play dates with families you like.

There is no reason to believe that a homeschooled only child will be an isolated child. Currently, my teenage daughter is homeschooling with me while her brother attends a traditional school after ten years of homeschooling. She could feel lonely, but how is that possible when she has voice class one night, youth group another, and choir practice a third? She also joins other homeschooled children at the roller skating rink twice a month. She is in church every Sunday. She is welcome to accompany me on my errand runs during the week, but often she prefers to stay home. (The only time she likes to shop is when she has money to spend.) Last week we went on two field trips and afterwards enjoyed an afternoon of lunch and shopping (she had the last of her Christmas money burning a hole in her purse). Does this sound like an isolated, only-homeschooled-child to you?

Honestly, the only possible disadvantage I can see to homeschooling an only child is if that child is competitive. An only child who is homeschooled has no classmates to compete with! Still, there’s no need to throw up your hands and enroll the child in school; you can find a way to compensate for that competitive nature – by signing up for sports or even a chess club. Homeschool support groups often have academic competitions such as spelling bees and geography bees. There are many arts/crafts competitions available for students – my teens have competed in the county fair in a variety of categories (photography, ceramics, candy, cookies, cakes). A 4-H club would provide even more competitive events. Our voice school has singing contests that my teens have enjoyed being a part of. The possibilities are out there. You just have to look for them!

So you see, there’s really no cause for worry about homeschooling an only child. Naturally, if God has called you to homeschool your only child, or to keep one of your children at home while the rest attend a traditional school, then you can trust Him to meet your child’s socializing needs. Homeschooling is what you make of it. Make it work for your family!

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