A reader asks:
>>I’m wondering — what is your opinion on homeschooling just one child? My youngest daughter wants to go to school next year, and that would leave only my son at home, who will be seven next year. On the one hand, I love how homeschooling allows him to grow at his own pace, make his own discoveries, and explore the world around him. I’m worried that putting him in school would stifle his love of learning. On the other hand, would it really work to keep just one child home, especially given that he’s my only boy? He’s just getting into playing with other boys — he used to just follow his sisters around — and I’m wondering if being around other boys would be of greater benefit to him than homeschooling. Or if I should continue homeschooling, and sign him up for as many classes as possible, and then do freelance work while he’s in class so we can actually pay for them…
What’s your opinion? Thanks!<<
Plenty of people homeschool only one child and it can work beautifully. It comes with its own advantages and disadvantages (as does everything!) but many children have thrived in this framework. Others haven’t. And sometimes the child thrives but the parents doesn’t, since having just one child home is parent intensive.
There are times that I doubt my homeschooling choices and periodically wonder if my kids would be better off in school. At those times I need to recalibrate and think again about what I’m doing and why. Sometimes I just need to consciously reconnect to my deepest values.
Sometimes, there’s an imbalance that I need to address. Am I actively living the values I espouse? Am I too busy with home management (or something else) and not spending enough time being fully present? Do I need to focus more time on one area, invest more in relationships, find a new way to help a child approach a skill set? Basically, what do I need to do to be in balance again?
Perhaps you would find it helpful to take some quiet time to reclarify for yourself what your educational and parenting goals are. If you have trusted mentors with experience homeschooling, now is a good time for some heart to heart conversations where you can honestly share your fears and conflicted feelings. It sounds like you’re wrestling with a set of conflicting values, that of your own conscience and that of the general society around you, and that doesn’t lend itself to peace of mind!
It sounds like your big concern about homeschooling is socialization. A general principle is that the more of himself a child has before being put in a situation that can easily lead to peer dependency, the more he can maintain his sense of self when around others. Until a child has a clear sense of himself as his own person, he’s limited in how he will benefit from the social opportunities of school.
Instead of giving you a direct response to your question, I’ll reflect your question back to you: Why and how would time with other seven year old boys be more valuable than taking an individualized approach to his educational and emotional needs along with lots of nurturing time with you?
Will these young boys model good character for him? Will they make him kinder, more helpful, more responsible? Will they help him overcome his rash inclinations, enhance his emotional maturation, encourage his individuality, sustain his self-esteem? Will they value who he is and care for him unconditionally?
Play time with other kids is fun, and fun is good! There may be benefits to you or your son for him being in school at this time. It’s important to be able to honestly assess what is right for your family.
Get clear with yourself about what gains you expect him to have if he’s in school. Recognize what are needs and what are wants so that the two aren’t confused when making decisions about what will best support his development and help you reach the goals you have for your family.