For every homeschool family of any size, there will come a time when there is only one school aged child left. This means that most of us, at one point or another, will find ourselves homeschooling an only child for the first time. This will help you get started if you find yourself suddenly homeschooling an only child.
My oldest son left for college last month, leaving me and his younger brother alone to begin a new homeschool year.
This is my eleventh-year homeschooling, but my very first year homeschooling an only child. I wasn’t at all prepared for how different it feels.
I’ve been homeschooling for a decade. 10 years of planning, curriculum and co-opts. 10 years of worrying about math, if I’d made the right choice to homeschool and what to do about socialization.
After 10 years and one homeschool graduate under my belt, I thought I had this down. I thought I knew everything I needed to know when it comes to homeschooling.
But as we begin this new year, my first homeschooling an only child, there are a few things that have surprised me and required me to think differently about our homeschool days.
The Most Difficult Part Of Homeschooling An Only Child
From the very first day of school until about ten minutes ago, one thing has been very clear – I am the only one left for my son.
I thought this would be a great benefit (and it is, I’m getting to that) but it also has it’s drawbacks. I didn’t realize how much my two boys learned together. I didn’t realize how much I left one child doing his own work to go and help the other, and vice versa.
Removing a child from the equation has me feeling like I have to be on top of things all day, every day. There is no time in our learning that does not involve me.
After about four days of me trying to figure out what in the world to do next at 1 PM every day, I decided to look at a couple of outside classes for my son.
He now takes voice and art lessons one time a week, and I have two solid hours to not be the one homeschooling him.
So far, this is helping, but the mental adjustment continues. (I will let you know how it goes…)
The Incredible Benefits Of Homeschooling An Only Child
Although I am finding it difficult to adjust to homeschooling an only child this year, I am also super conscious of the benefits.
First and foremost, one on one time is now a non-issue. All we have is one on one time (please see my difficulties above) and it is wonderful for his learning and engagement.
Because I am able to be fully present and available more often, we are able to dive deeper into our learning. If I am honest, we are learning more in less time than ever before.
In addition, one of the benefits I am beginning to love is financial. Homeschooling an only child means I can afford to enroll him in those two outside classes. It means I can plan a field trip every month and not worry too much about ticket prices. I even tried out a new science curriculum this year, knowing it was more expensive than what I would’ve had room for in the budget before.
The Reality Of Homeschooling An Only Child For The First Time
When all is said and done, this is a huge adjustment and not just for me. Yes, I miss my oldest terribly. Yes, it feels strange every single time we sit down to watch a YouTube video and he is not with us. Yes, I want to cry when I think about him living apart from me.
I certainly have my own feelings about the change. I am also realizing that my youngest son is going through just as much of an adjustment as I am.
He loves having me all to himself and has proudly been proclaiming that he “gets to be an only child now.” But he also has been a little down, a little off. He wistfully brings up things we did together last year, remembering the good times.
It’s normal, I know. Helping my child adjust is also a very real part of homeschooling an only child for the very first time.
Are You Homeschooling An Only Child For The First Time?
One of the things that has been helpful for me in making this transition as a homeschool mom is reading and keeping up with how other homeschool moms do it when homeschooling an only child.
Reading Jessica’s experiences here on The Waldock Way all about homeschooling her only child has helped me immensely. I am learning to manage my own expectations. Most importantly, I am learning to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity I have to spend so much time with my last homeschooler.
A Note From Jessica…
Shawna was kind enough to share her experience suddenly homeschooling an only, you can find more resources from her on her site: Different By Design.
Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned write, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years. Shawna has written four books – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She has also been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.