Would You Homeschool an Only Child?

Question:

Would you homeschool an only child? I am homeschooling my 6 year old son and most of the time it is wonderful. We stay very busy running here and there so he can be with other children. Even still, at times, there is some isolation and I wonder if it is the ideal choice for him?

Answer:

I’ve tried both worlds (public school and home school) and here is what I deeply believe: young children need to be in the security and moral environment that home provides, with a loving mother teacher. No school can replace that. No education can surpass that. It is not available in any other way, and nothing can make up for a lack in those beginning foundational years. They form the child’s character, his view of the world, his testimony of God, his feelings about his own self worth, his habits. As a wise leader said, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”.

Children need mommies—that is the way God set it up to be. No one loves your child as much as you do. No one cares as much as you do if he grasps a math concept or holds his pencil correctly. Those are small things, but the big things–faith in God, respect for authority, self-discipline, manners, compassion–these things are best taught by someone who loves the child more than life itself. Generally, only one person qualifies for that job description and it is YOU, mother.

Now, on the practical side, it is mother’s job to make sure her multi-dimensional child is getting his needs met: spiritual, mental (academic), physical, social and emotional. And that requires much more than just following an academic program. Homeschooling really should be called “home nurturing” in my opinion, because to grow a child, you have to concern yourself with all elements. If you choose to use the public school to fulfill the mental (academic) and social needs of your child, you are still in charge of the rest, and there is precious little time left after school to nurture them, particularly if you have to do some “undoing” of habits or attitudes that have been picked up in a peer dependent environment. I think it is possible to raise a wonderful child using the public schools. It just requires so much more work, and there are far more casualties! I am not a big risk taker when it comes to my children.

Isolation is a very real issue, and it is not good for children. However, I do believe children need more unstructured time, even time alone, than we realize. Those are the times when you get to know yourself, to think, to dream . . . plus to develop ways to keep yourself happy and involved (hobbies, reading). But too much isolation from other people makes kids sad and lonely. Mom is great, but Mom is not enough. For some children, siblings are not enough either. For these children, it is up to a homeschooling mother to create play groups, attend a support group, get involved in a co-op school, set up a “club” for their child where other children come weekly to learn a skill (art club, horse riding club, etc.).

So what does school away from home provide? Is it worth it in your child’s case? That is the question that you have to ponder and work through. If you see that public school can do something for your child that he needs, then your options are to put him in to get that need met (perhaps part time) or to meet that need yourself.

For myself, here are the answers I came up with, both negative and positive traits of public schooling, all mixed together:

Public School:

Academic/Mental

  • easy on Mom because the responsibility for their learning is left with the school
  • child gets another teacher figure in their life besides mom, which may be helpful
  • kids may work better for another teacher
  • moves at a slower rate . . . wow, much slower!
  • takes the fun out of learning because of the “hurry and wait” mentality
  • hard to specialize learning to each child’s level; child gets lost in the crowd
  • better than nothing, if that is what you are teaching in your home school due to sickness, overload, lack of education of the mother, lack of time, etc.
  • homework can take up the evenings, and you end up teaching them anyway, only under duress and not the stuff you wanted to teach them, generally.
  • bells or schedules can interrupt true learning and teach children not ever to get deeply involved.

Spiritual

  • offers zilch as far as learning to know God, to trust God, to keep his commandments
  • school may have some rules on manners or respect for authority that would teach an unruly child if their own mother was not able
  • if teacher reads classic literature to the class, there may be some worthy truths taught in those stories
  • figure that early American history will be dished up without one mention of God’s amazing intervention in our behalf!
  • no teacher can tell the real stories of how George Washington was “bulletproof” and God-protected, according to his enemies, and how his the answer to his prayer at Valley Forge made us Americans rather than Englishmen today.
  • remember that Humanism is the religion of the school.

Physical

  • school is not the environment to nurture healthy eating habits
  • candy abounds, is used to reward kids
  • lunch is the time to compare who has the best junk food
  • kids are rushed to eat in a noisy environment and don’t really eat a full meal, a lot of food is just thrown away
  • a packed lunch is a test of “cool”. Socially acceptable=pudding cups, fruit snacks (that are really thinly disguised gummy type candy), chips, candy bars, cheetos, soda pop to drink (I am not kidding!)
  • group games, sports at P.E. is fun for them and gives them exercise (usually not daily, however)
  • learn to play as a team
  • “Say ‘No’ to Drugs” program (might teach them more than I want them to know, however!)
  • physical body reigns supreme (rather than moral character and goodness)—lots of emphasis on beauty, body, prowess in sports, coordination, decorating the body with name brands, styles
  • sitting for long periods
  • go out in fresh air daily to run around for recess, which is more than some homeschool kids get

Social/Emotional

  • school is where the kids are, most definitely
  • there are good kids in every class, so there is possibility for finding friends
  • peer dependency is sick and affects every word and action
  • a good teacher can teach a child to be orderly, quiet, diligent in completing their work
  • lots of negative stuff comes from the kids, as many American children have been raised on PG13 movies, and other worldly influences
  • to be cool, you have to be in the know (movies, TV, music, pop stars, fads)
  • lots of practice on getting along, which is a good thing
  • lots of practice on tolerance of other people and their beliefs and mannerisms
  • bullies
  • even though much of the socialization is negative, kids are around other kids at school
  • bad behavior is not condemned (cattiness, sticking out tongue, burping aloud, making rude comments,
  • criticizing others, laughing when someone is hurt, etc.)
  • group mentality nearing hysteria takes over at times. For example, if the teacher asks the group a question, children look around to see what their peers are saying, rather than thinking for themselves.
  • negative energy builds up. That is why many young kids cry or argue when they are picked up from school.

This is just my brainstorm of ideas. Some schools are much better than others. Your own child has unique needs. Only by studying out his needs will you be able to know who can meet them best (public school or homeschool, or some other option). We only get one shot at raising our children, and those foundation years have a tremendous effect on the outcome! I pray we will all choose wisely!

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