The biggest worry for most would-be homeschool parents centers on socialization. Somewhere along the way, generations of people became convinced that the only “correct” way to socialize a human being is to send them to a bricks-and-mortar school.
Never mind that for eons one only “socialized” with one’s family and immediate neighbors. And it’s curious to me that a lot of people idealize stories about America’s westward expansion (example: Little House on the Prairie) without realizing that those children did just fine spending most of their lives with one or two kids– or alone. Even the proverbial Little Red School house had far fewer kids in it than the typical modern classroom.
But if you really want to throw a ringer in to the ol’ “homeschooling is bad for socialization” issue, then let’s consider the singletons, the “onlies.”
That’s our household. We have one child.
Now guess what?
I’m actually an “only” homeschooling an “only.”
There are no plans to change those numbers, by the way.
To others, maybe. We’re certainly a curiosity, a subset of a subset.
To us, however, it’s as natural and as right as rain.
“But doesn’t he need other children?”
I’ve encountered that sentiment in my online reading over the last few months. No one has said that to me per se, but I can hear it in the subtext of the conversation. For what it’s worth, we did work to select three appropriate “extracurricular” activities that would challenge him mentally and physically, provide him with “classroom” experiences, and expose him to group dynamics. We also happen to have a lot of kids on our street, which is wonderful.
Yet I think it would be unfortunate to assume that all onlies need or desire the same experiences. I grew up on a farm for a few years, and there weren’t many kids in my neighborhood when we moved into town. (If Reno, Texas can, you know, be considered a “town.”) I looked forward to coming home every afternoon, especially during early grade school, because I had an especially low tolerance for the emotional manipulation (mostly girl-led) that took place in the classroom and on the playground. It was distracting and draining. Being “alone” never really bothered me because I found too much exposure to large groups for extended periods emotionally and physically exhausting.
If homeschooling would have been an option, then I probably would have begged for it.
The one exception to all of the frustrations of my youth? An after-school theater class. There we were kept so busy on the process that the “mean girls” stuff was kept out of the building. Most of the kids attended another school, so I wasn’t wrapped up in their issues, either. No shunning, bickering, jealousy, or back-biting and lots of time for improvisation and creativity.
It was liberating. It was a lot like homeschooling, in fact. Or afterschooling.
With this kind of post, I like to try to wrap-up with a recommendation to a useful resource. In this case, I haven’t found any single source on the topic of homeschooling a singleton with which I feel comfortable recommending. (Hmm… maybe I should write one?) So I’ll offer up instead a children’s fiction book and movie: Nim’s Island. Not only is the title character homeschooled, she’s a gifted only child living on a remote island. So the character is a wonderful role model for him as well as my inner 10-year old. Actually, the movie was a favorite of ours before we decided to opt out of public-school Kindergarten. In fact, my son identified with–and loved–Nim so much that we wound up buying a copy of the book and reading it aloud not long after we made our decision to continue homeschooling.
A little positive, outside reinforcement never hurts anyone, right?