Monday, August 5, 2013

5 Days Blog Hop: Our One and Only: Homeschooling the Only Child

{You can read my Intro to the 5 Days of Homeschooling One Busy Boy here. }

You see before you an Only Child. An Only Child who's homeschooled at that!

When some people think of homeschooling, they might think of families who have 10 kids (with 2 more on the way). They spend their days churning butter, designing space shuttles and tending goats. I am not suggesting that there are not homeschooling families who do some of these things (or all of these things). It just “ain’t” us. 

We have an Only Child. We live in an apartment building in a mid-sized city in the Ozark mountains. Goats aren’t allowed inside. Though there might  be those who bend the rules on Chickens. 

Nevertheless, I still get the usual questions. 

How do you know if they are really learning?
Translation: You don’t seem like you’re too bright yourself. Don’t you think an actual paid teacher might know what he or she is doing?
Aren’t you afraid Josiah will miss out on something by keeping him out of Public School?
Translation: You sound like a real stick in the mud. You are depriving your child from basic childhood memories. 

What about socialization?
Translation: It can’t be too healthy keeping your kid locked inside all day. They might turn out to be weird or something.
I won’t use this post to answer all of those questions. There are more. We homeschoolers keep all of them on a little file on our computers along with possible answers. The next time somebody asks me that question this is what I’ll say!

When you have Only One, the socialization question becomes a bigger one. And there is this. What does one possibly do all day with one child? Even your homeschool friends (with more than 1 kiddo) don’t quite get it. For them, only having to teach one child throughout the day sounds like a dream. Surely it must be heaven! You know what I’m talking about. 

As with anything in life, Homeschooling an Only Child comes with Good News and Bad News. There are challenges with every situation. 

Here is some of the Good News.

Josiah gets individual attention. Which is a blessing because he is dyslexic. I also get to tailor his curriculum to fit his needs. I don’t have to worry about adapting anything we use to fit multiple students. 

There aren’t as many as distractions. Squirrel! Josiah is one of those kinds of kids. He is highly distractible! The more bodies in the room the more he “shines.” 

Flexibility. It doesn’t take me a month to get ready for any activity (be it inside or out). Got your shoes? Did you brush your teeth? We’re good! 

Cheaper is good. I don’t have to worry about buying curriculum for the multitudes. I get to focus on what Josiah needs. Or what we can afford. 

Our relationship is very close. He is my guy. 

With any Good News comes a little Bad News.

I’m it baby. I’m the whole show. There isn’t the buddy system. There are no older siblings to assist with tutoring. There aren’t any little sisters to tease or older brothers to emulate. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. He has come to depend on having my complete attention and has difficulty working on his own. 

He isn’t competitive. There isn’t anyone to push him to do better. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing. I want him to care. 

It does take more of an effort to make sure he has opportunity to make friends. Josiah is a very social guy. He takes his friendships very seriously.

So here are a few things that we’ve tried to do to tackle some of those Only Child quirks. 

~Volunteering. I want Josiah to be a caring and well-rounded person. I also am not as concerned with making sure he has 29 best friends his own age (via Public School). We frequently volunteer at a Nursing Home. Josiah takes paint off of little old ladies fingernails. Plays Bingo. Serves Ice Cream. Last week he took a Tia Chi class. One of his best friends is 94.  I want him to see the world beyond his own little room with its multiple Star Wars posters or group of Peers that happen to all speak in one word sentences. Cool! Wow! Neat! You know what I mean. 

~Taken advantage of family members and friends to extend the classroom. I don’t have to be the only teacher in Josiah’s life. My mom gives Josiah a Master Art Class on occasion. He has learned about botany from my Dad. I had a friend who tutored him in reading for quite some time. He treasured those times he got to spend at Miss Kim’s. Miss Kim had also been a classroom teacher for 20 some years.  Surely, you have some similar “resources” in your life. 

Some families rely on co-ops to provide those experiences in their kids’ lives. Time hasn’t allowed us to commit to a co-op, but I know they have been a blessing to many. 

Josiah’s first sport was golf. He was 2 when he received his first set of golf clubs. Now golf isn’t exactly a team sport. I worried a little. It’s a little hard to be too social with a golf club. When he was 9 he started intensive swim lessons. Now he is part of a team. It is not like being on a seasonal basketball or soccer team. His swim team practices twice a week (or more) all but a month or two out of the year. His teammates are kids from 8 years old to High School. This has been an invaluable experience for Josiah. 

My last piece of advice can be used with any situation you find yourself in…no matter if you are a homeschooler, mail person (I don’t why I came up with “mail person”…it’s a random example), or chief bottler at a ketchup factory (also completely random…I know no such person). 

We have to (ourselves) be Teachable. I have not been as effective as a parent/teacher when I have approached something with a preconceived idea or notion. I might have a plan or a goal in mind, but it's a better thing to be able to adjust my plans or goals with the actual reality of the situation. 

Make sense?  Good. I would hate to have to try and reword that. Shew!

Tomorrow I will be talking about How To Giddy-Up When My Giddy-Up's Gone (Raising a Highly Distracted Boy).

Several of us on the TOS Review Crew (90 of my closest friends) are participating  in the 5 Days Blog Hop. Check 'em out! 

Summer Blog Hop

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