Homeschooling An Only Child: What About Socializing?

Bandage Mom met the mother of a beautiful 2-year-old girl today. Her daughter is an only child and may not be able to have any siblings. She mentioned that she was interested in one day homeschooling her little girl, but she was concerned that it may not be possible if she’s an only child. She was concerned that her child would not know what it’s like to play, learn, or socialize with other kids.

She focused especially on the “s” word: socializing.

With two boys, we can’t tell you about homeschooling an only child from a first-hand perspective. However, from the outside looking in, we can most-certainly say that it’s not only possible but probable to successfully homeschool an only child. Our sons have met other homeschooled only children, and they’re just as capable of playing, learning, and socializing with other kids as those who have one or multiple siblings.

With that said, it’s important to properly define “socializing” and understand why homeschooled kids generally have better social skills than kids who attend traditional, charter, or private schools. We’re not putting down those who attend schools or their social skills. After all, Bandage Mom and Dad both attended public school. Just stick with us here to see what we’re getting at.

Depending on where you get your definition and how the term is used, socialize means “to mix socially with others” and “to make one behave in a way that is acceptable to others or their surroundings.” Generally, schools focus on the second definition; they socialize children with others their own age and train them to act as they deem appropriate. Thanks, but we’d rather not.

Homeschooling enables kids to be socialized according to the first definition. Homeschooled kids mix and mingle with children and adults of various ages, intellect, gender, background, ethnicity, profession, and so on. This can take place at the playground, the library, a zoo, a science center or museum, at the post office, in the grocery store, on the bus… Socializing takes place anywhere and everywhere!

So why does that “s” word always pop up as a concern for homeschooled kids?

For some reason, a homeschooled child generally equates to a loner and somebody kept away from the rest of the world. Seriously?!

Homeschooled kids–whether an only child or one of five children in a family–tend to go to, experience, and see more than traditionally-schooled kids. Need any examples?

Our boys have been to Target at 10am on a Wednesday and had the chance to mingle and socialize with a bus-load of elderly and handicapped ALF residents that were there on their weekly trip to the store. We were only there to pick up a couple of things, but our boys spent about an hour talking to and joking with almost every one of those individuals. Our boys put smiles on each of their faces as well as their own!

One of our boys’ favorite things is construction. We like to pack a picnic lunch and head out to watch roads getting repaired, buildings being erected, and carnival rides getting put together. We can do this any time of the day, and more often than not they get to meet the foreman or supervisor and ask tons of questions. And by the way, we’ve never met anybody that didn’t want to answer their questions or be watched while they work.

We’re fortunate that Bandage Dad’s job enables him to have every other Friday off. Weekdays are the best time to visit places like museums, zoos, sanctuaries, and such. The crowds are slim because most kids are in school and parents are working. We take advantage of having every other Friday available to go to these places…and that’s when we usually run into other homeschoolers!

As far as playing and learning well with others, that happens naturally so long as they’re given the opportunity to visit the library, playground, park, and such. Kids with siblings get along with other kids no better than only children. The only difference may be the frequency with which an only child is with others. The solution really is simple: take your child to the library story time or arts-and-crafts; visit the mall or store for more than just shopping (better yet, go without the intention to buying anything); find out about local homeschool groups in your area, but don’t feel obligated to stay with just any one; attend community events and gatherings; check out community centers for programs and sports; randomly start up conversations with other parents–you never know who else also homeschools and is looking for a connection!

There are endless ways to get your child “socialized” and give him or her the chance to play and learn with others. Don’t focus so much on the age or gender, as is the case in school. It’s true that a 3-year-old and another preschooler may play together more easily than a 3-year-old and a 12-year-old, but give it a chance. After all, when your child turns 18 and eventually gets a job, he or she won’t be working strictly with other 18-year-olds! Did you?

Yes, an only child can be homeschooled! There’s no limit to what he or she may be able to do, learn, or accomplish…unless you limit them. But that’s part of the reason to homeschool, right? Don’t let that “s” word scare or intimidate you. Be proud of how you socialize your homeschooler, and be grateful he or she isn’t socialized the way schools do!

With an open mind,

Family Bandage

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