Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homeschooling an only child

I have been thinking of doing such a post for a while because really, homeschoolers of only children are as rare as hen's teeth:)

There ain't much around that I can see - most books I've read on homeschooling don't even touch the subject:(

So, I'm just journalling my experiences so that it may encourage anyone who is in a similar situation that comes across this post.

Ive met quite a few mothers on various yahoo groups that gave up on the idea of homeschooling their only child when it was time to go to kindergarten as it seems like that was the toughest time for them for various reasons. So, I write this for any future mums in my situation:) Take what you will from it as it's just my experience that I'm journalling:)

I was introduced to homeschooling through friends of ours many years before we had Rebekah and was very impressed by it, so thought that perhaps one day I would like to do the same when I had my own kiddos. So.... when it came time to decide on the all important question asked of a mother of a 2 year old "so which pre-school are you going to send Rebekah to?" I decided I needed to look into this whole homeschooling thing again!

Actually remembering back to some of those conversations, I remember feeling like I would miss Rebekah so much when it came time to send her to school and some mums told me that would change in time. Well, she is now five and half and I still feel the same! In fact we love each other's company and things are much easier now than ever and I just love all the wonderful conversations we have, and the time we spend together reading, playing with her etc. That's not to say that I don't have days when I just want to be left alone though, but for the great majority of the time we both truly enjoy the homeschooling process!

Anyway, back to what I was saying....

So, I bought some books and read them. One day I casually mentioned it to another mum in my playgroup and discovered she was thinking along the same lines and was already way ahead of me in the research stage. She turned out to be a great encouragement and source of information at the time.

I then proceeded to spend hours researching it on the internet and joined some discussion forums and groups. During that time, we (Ron and I) became convinced that it was definitely something we wanted to do and felt called to do.

Little did I know then (when Rebekah was two and half by this stage) that by the time it came time for her to be at school, that she would still be our only child!

Things were progressing along fine with my research and buying books for Rebekah that I would use to teach her etc.

Last year, I reluctantly joined a yahoo discussion group for mothers of only children - I say reluctantly because we are still praying for a sibling for Rebekah:) This group is quite small and discussions are not that frequent but they are a great bunch of very supportive mums! So, if you're in a similar situation, check out this group or any others that are around.

So, what are some of the the issues/challenges I've faced? I actually anticipated it to be worse than it was:)
I thought that this year- 2009 - when Rebekah saw her friends going to school that she would find it quite difficult, but it wasn't as bad as I anticipated, thankfully!
In fact I anticipated the same thing last year when all her friends were going to preschool and it didn't happen:) hmm...that says something about me doesn't it:)
Late last year we moved to a new place which is right near a primary school. We can see it from the front of our house and we hear the kids playing during recess and hear the school bell ring etc.
Early this year when we were talking about her friends going off to school etc and her seeing what a "real school" was right from our front door, we went through a short stage which probably only lasted a week or two at the most when she started asking me about why she was not going to school and that she wanted to go to school etc. So, I explained our decision to her (after seeking some advice from the afore mentioned yahoo group) which I think she quickly understood because she hasn't mentioned going to school since!

The other challenge which we've easily overcome is companionship from other kids. Once again I think I was more concerned about her lack of this than she has been!
I think kids get used to the way things are for them and I guess to her she doesn't know any different - I think I had been needlessly worrying because both Ron and I come from families with many siblings.
I signed her up for dance classes which we do weekly and we attend homeschooler park days about once a month. Between this and family visits, church, cousins, playdates with friends etc she actually gets quite a bit of socialisation! (Homeschoolers always say that they get asked this question a lot! well, as a parent of an only I can say that I get asked this more than anyone else and from total strangers I might add, including twenty something checkout chicks!)

Adding to this, we also got her some guinea pigs - now this is one thing that has not only been a huge blessing to Rebekah but has enriched all of our lives :) We love them as much as she does:)

Another thing was that she always a very clingy and shy child and I often wondered whether she would be better off at school, but then it didn't take long for me to realise that I was like that and school didn't help much in that area for me. I would say that while I am still shy, it wasn't until my twenties when I started changing in this area!
The reason I say that is because I was often told that she needs to go to school to help her come out of her shell. Well, as it turns out, I think she has naturally come out of her shell in the last 8 to 12 months, and while she is still shy she is definitely not as clingy as she used to be!
She has become very resourceful in "entertaining" herself. She can play by herself for long periods of time now! She has oodles of imaginary friends that she plays with:)

The last issue/challenge that I can think of is finding time for myself. I am certainly an introvert and recharge by solitude. Ron has been extremely supportive in this area by regularly taking Rebekah out for a few hours on the weekend. Thanks honey!

So.....our homeschooling life is sailing along smoothly:) And while I would like Rebekah to be homeschooled all the way (by the grace of God), we feel it's best to take it one year at a time and see how it all pans out from year to year!


Mai said...

I think it's great that you followed your heart about homeschooling and it's working so well for you. I think you're right about kids becoming accustomed to different things, and you guys have obviously worked hard to give her the things she needs...and she's thriving! So it's clearly making for one happy family, which is the main thing. Great post, Rosemary!

joyfulmum said...

Thanks Mai for reading all the way down to the end of the post and for your encouraging comments:)

Ganeida said...

Ditz is the youngest of 5 ~ & much good it has done her. Except for the 3 years her older sister homeschooled with us she has schooled as an only child. I know this is a huge blessing in our case. If Ditz had siblings schooling at home we could not do many of the activities that are in her area of excellence & which she loves. I think the whole *socialization* issue becomes less important the longer one homeschools & the more one sees how much high quality socialization takes place just through daily living.

I too am an introvert & admit it was vert hard when my far more socially inclined child demanded I entertain her non~stop when we weren't actually schooling but now she is older she will give me time to myself to recharge my batteries & even enjoys the odd hour by herself as well! ☺ Don't let other's expectation upset your apple cart. If you are happy with what you are doing & it works for you, go for it!

Amy said...

I agree--great post! I love how thoughtful you and Ron have been about your choices for Rebekah, and she is clearly doing so well! You will be an inspiration to lots of moms that follow after you. I also agree--I think alot of times we project our own fears or wishes onto our kids and expect them to worry about or want something that they haven't even thought about! Rebekah is a great little girl--well done, Mom!

joyfulmum said...

Ganeida, thanks for popping by and leaving me some comments, I'm in the process of checking out your blogs:)

Amy, thanks for your lovely comments:)