Several years ago, before embarking on our homeschool journey, I asked the usual questions. And even if I hadn’t asked them, curious friends or relatives would have asked them:
Aren’t you afraid he won’t get a good education?
What qualifications do you have to be a teacher?
(One of my favorite comments came from a relative who said the only thing he knew about homeschool kids is they do well at The National Spelling Bee.)
These questions didn’t bother me too much, but there was one question that did worry me:
Aren’t you worried about socialization?
Honestly, I wasn’t worried about socialization specifically. What did concern me is that I’m the mother of an only child. My son is an active, vivacious, talkative, imaginative young boy. How on earth do I keep him enthusiastic about learning?
Won’t we be together all the time? Won’t it be terribly isolating? These were the questions keeping me awake at night. I’d discovered something that might prove more challenging than selecting curriculum or lesson planning – I call it the Just One Syndrome.
Homeschooling a Single Child
I wish I’d had all the answers before starting our first school year, but I didn’t. Instead, I began a period of trial and error –finding what works and what doesn’t work for us. I forged ahead with faith, determined to accentuate the positive.
As with anything in life, that which one focuses on is what will manifest – homeschooling can work, even with just one. I’m positive.
First and foremost, the student-to-teacher ratio is phenomenal at our school. We’ve developed a system which incorporates independent work along with “Mom and Me” work, and so far, it’s functioning.
Field trips are incredible. With just one, it’s relatively easy to pack up and go see the things we’re studying. Living in North Carolina, we’re surrounded by field trip options. How exciting to have the flexibility to be able to travel to Madison’s Montpelier on Constitution Day or experience Fort Sumter first-hand?
My tactile learner loves that we have the ability to go, see, and do.
Having a network of friends who homeschool and support our efforts is extremely important. Joining a co-operative was a necessity for us. Initially, we tried attending a once a week group, but found that the travel and time away from our regular studies was difficult for us to juggle.
We’ve since found a program for homeschoolers at our YMCA that gives me and my son some time away from each other one afternoon each week. With just one, tapping into homeschool resources is critical.
Discovering the Pros & Cons
Outside activities are essential. Because my son and I are together a great deal of time, it’s vital for each of us to have outside activities. Guitar lessons, Tae Kwon Do, and lacrosse provide breaks for Mom and important father/son time for the boys. I have my Irish dancing which gives me a fun and creative outlet away from homeschool as well.
It isn’t always smooth sailing. There are still days where it gets tough. From time to time, I feel doubt creep back in, but somehow, something always happens to encourage me to keep going.
I remember one such time; it had been a particularly tough week, so we took homeschool to a local coffee shop for a change of scenery.
My son and I spread our books out at a table and were about to get to work when from behind the counter the owner asked, “Are you homeschooling?”
I was a little reticent to answer, but when I said yes, her response floored me. She replied, “I homeschooled my daughter. Hang in there, it’s worth it.”
Maybe my frustration was written on my face that day, but I prefer to believe God was sending me a message I needed to hear. The woman’s encouraging words were just what I needed to let me know, though I feel alone at times, I’m never alone, especially when I’m doing what God is calling me to do – educate my child.
Three years into our homeschooling adventure, we’re still discovering the pros and cons unique to homeschooling one child. We’re learning what works for us and that’s part of the beauty of homeschool.
Yes, there are days I question if I’m on the right path or I envy other homeschool moms with ready-made classes, but I know we’re each on our own journey.
If my son and I focus on the positive, start the school day in prayer, and put our trust in God, we’re somehow able to adapt and overcome the obstacles of the Just One Syndrome.