Homeschooling an Only Child – Homeschooling

Looking around at the homeschool families you know in your co-op, support group, or church, you might observe that most consist of more than one child. In fact, a 2006 National Center for Education report found that families with three or more children make up 62% of the homeschool population. If you’re one of the few with an only child at home, you may be asking yourself the question, “Can I homeschool my only child?”The emphatic answer is yes, you can. Only-child families reap the same benefits homeschooling provides to larger families. A friend who homeschooled her only son until the age of 10, when their family miraculously grew in size, reminded me that homeschooling, like anything else, is what you make it. If you sow good seed in your homeschool, you will reap an abundant harvest, regardless of the number of children in your home.My husband and I set our hearts to homeschool our kids before we even had any. We’d been introduced to homeschooling just before our now 12-year-old was born. Our reasons for homeschooling mirrored those of most families: to educate the whole child, to keep her heart at home, to raise her with a strong Christian worldview. We paid little attention to her being an only child until I joined a homeschool support group and realized we were in the minority. Only two of the more than thirty families in my support group-including ourselves-were only-child families.I didn’t panic. Our convictions hadn’t changed. We had a God-given vision for our family. I rejoiced in the benefits of only-child homeschooling I could see immediately: an abundance of one-on-one time, more freedom in choosing curriculum and activities, and more flexibility in our schedule than that already afforded by homeschooling.
But first, let’s consider some of the trials you might face as you endeavor to homeschool your only child. Homeschooling an only child does provide some unique challenges, but none of them are insurmountable. Interaction with Others
I don’t believe there’s a homeschooling mom out there who has not fielded questions about socialization. As an only-child family, you might feel doubly targeted. Well-intentioned friends and family argued that our daughter needed to be in a traditional school setting because she didn’t have siblings to help her learn to share and work out differences. Privately, I didn’t want her subjected to a classroom of same-age peers who would help shape her sense of self.So I purposed to fill in the gaps left by the absence of brothers and sisters. One of the first lessons we taught her was respect: for herself, for others, and for things. Simple, I know; also useful as overall life values. Applied to homeschooling, these rules taught our daughter the elements of true socialization, not what society calls socialization. She was taught to respect herself in her thought life and in her image of herself as a bright, compassionate, and strong child of God. Respecting others became important when we visited the library and when listening to the instructions for her math assignment. Respect for things developed naturally out of discussions of God’s creation. Caring for her own toys, the fragile things in our home, and items borrowed from friends grew out of that.We also strove to provide opportunities for our daughter to build relationships. We involved ourselves in church and community events. We attended field trips organized by our support group. We took steps to promote friendships, scheduling time together. We joined our support group in visiting residents at a retirement home once a month, providing our daughter both the benefit of practicing her social skills and the value of being a blessing to others. These activities had as their main purpose to teach her to interact with people in all ages and stages of life.Avoiding a Child-Centered Home
Falling into the trap of a child-centered home is a genuine concern for any parent, especially the parent of a homeschooled only child. With our child being such a large focus in our lives, how do we maintain the proper authority in our home? We make sure her responsibilities at home increase as she grows in maturity and capability. We set the example of serving others by reaching out to widowed neighbors and sick friends. We model a healthy marriage where we make time for each other as husband and wife, and we remember to put God first above all else.One-on-One Time with Parents
Homeschooling already affords valuable quality time between parents and children. When you are homeschooling an only child, that time becomes perhaps even more beneficial. With Mom and Dad as our daughter’s main playmates, we are able to focus on specific skills such as sharing and playing fairly.Once, my husband came in from work and found our daughter and me competing fiercely in a game of Candy Land. Although it’s sometimes tempting to let her win, we know that if we let her win every time, she won’t know how to lose graciously. We are able to devote much of our time to nurturing her gifts and interests and embedding our values into her heart. Regardless of family size, that’s one of the greatest blessings of home education.Freedom and Flexibility
Every child is a one-of-a-kind creation of God, and homeschooling gives us the opportunity to focus on the uniqueness of each child. That’s another one of the blessings we enjoy regardless of family size-which means families like ours can benefit from homeschooling just as much as anyone.We cherish our freedom of choice. We choose the curriculum that compliments our child’s learning style, the amount of time devoted to a subject, whether our child will learn cursive or Latin, workbooks or manipulatives, and on it goes.Different Sizes, Same Blessings
As I’ve emphasized again and again, the blessings of homeschooling are basically the same regardless of family size. Some of the blessings may show themselves in different ways, and to some extent they may vary in quantity. For example, a family with more children enjoys more built-in opportunities to teach qualities such as cooperation and sharing, while a family with only one child enjoys greater flexibility in choosing curriculum and activities. In both cases, the versatility of homeschooling allows families to customize their approach, take advantage of built-in strengths, and fill in potential areas of weakness. That’s the great advantage of homeschooling-it’s customizable, flexible, and adaptable to the unique circumstances of your family.The Journey Is Worth It
What I want to impress upon you, the parent of an only child wondering about pressing on, is this: the journey is still worth it. It may take some creative thinking on your part, but if God has given you the vision to homeschool your child, nothing is impossible with Him. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Socialization for Homeschoolers – Homeschooling

When thinking about socialization for homeschoolers, many people don’t realize that public school children are really the students who are at a disadvantage. They are stuck in school all day while homeschoolers are free to explore the real world. Homeschoolers will learn to be responsible for their own education and not be like their public school counterparts who have everything done for them. Homeschoolers also have the advantage of learning house management skills and work experience and real life skills needed later in life. Here are some ideas for opportunities for socialization for homeschoolers:Volunteer Opportunities – Homeschoolers have more opportunities to volunteer at local businesses or ministries. Whether they volunteer on their own or with a group, they can look around their community and find places that need their help. Some visit nursing homes, help build Habitat for Humanity homes, help with local soup kitchens or food pantries, help Salvation Army volunteers pick up items or organize items in their stores, along with a whole host of other ministries that need extra help.
Homeschool Group Field Trips – Since homeschooling is becoming so popular, just about every county in the United States has a homeschool group available. These groups can often get discounts to local museums or attractions because they have a greater number of students. There are also more ideas available for field trips because there are other moms and dads who want their children to see and experience the activities in the area.
Local Sports Teams – Almost every community I have ever come in contact with has some type of summer baseball/softball leagues. There are often many opportunities for traveling basketball, soccer, volleyball, and baseball teams. Many sports open their elementary and junior high sports programs to anyone in the community. Homeschool groups often band together and form soccer or basketball leagues where homeschool students can compete against other homeschool students.
Church Activities – Besides volunteering to help people, many churches also have youth groups, children’s groups, and choir and singing groups. These are all open to homeschoolers and can have a positive influence in their lives.Many different studies have shown that homeschoolers tend to have a better self esteem and adapt better socially than public school students. Sometimes there is negative socialization in the schools which is actually a disadvantage for socialization that the homeschool students can avoid. Every state in the United States has some form of state and local homeschool organization that make it even easier for students to find socialization opportunities. Many of these organizations have websites where parents can get lists of activities and attractions in their area or state where they can find even more socialization for homeschoolers.If parents are choosing not to homeschool their children because of their view that their children will be unsocialized, then they are not really looking at the big picture.

Homeschooling and Sensory Processing – Homeschooling

Our world is a kaleidoscope of sensations! We see, feel, smell, taste and hear what’s happening all around us. Our senses tap into our emotions making us feel happy, excited or frightened or even aggressive. Homeschooling makes it easier for parents to design lessons to use sensory processing to improve children’s attention, memory and learning. Homeschoolers can use all the sensory experiences around us to stimulate children’s interest. If the sensory input is over-bearing for your child, you can reduce it and work in a quieter, calmer place. Teachers understand this but cannot have the same level of flexibility in designing lessons as Homeschoolers do. Homeschoolers are in the best position to use the senses that work best for their own children. Muti-sensory or multi-modal teaching is teaching which uses many different sensory inputs.Words and senses link together; words can evoke memories of sights, smells and sounds, even of feelings. Senses can evoke memories; but not all are happy or positive memories. Think of how you feel when you smell something which reminds you of childhood visits to the dentist! Not to mention the irritation we feel and difficulty we have concentrating on anything when we have an itch or a stinging insect bite! For some of us, lying on a blanket under a tree, surrounded by grass, flowers and birds is our idea of heaven. How comforted we feel when we cuddle up into a warm, soft blanket! Some of us prefer spending time in a warm bath, with candlelight; while others just want to be in the middle of a big, noisy party!Yes, we all have different sensory processing and therefore different reactions to the sensory world around us. Some of us are sensory-seeking and want lots of movement, action and sound around us. This energises sensory-seekers, who actually function and concentrate better when they have intense sensory input. Sensory-avoiding people are more inclined to want to curl up in a corner when there is too much noise or action. Sensory-avoiding children can go into “shut down” when there is too much sensory input for them. You will notice then that they seem unable to think or to follow your instructions.A child in the wrong sensory environment for their own specific sensory processing, will be negatively affected. Their ability to concentrate, focus attention and process the information will be diminished and they will struggle to learn. Often children are labelled as having Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit – inattention type (ADD) because their sensory processing is responding to a sensory environment in a way that makes it very difficult for them to learn. Whether or not your child actually has ADHD or ADD, they will be more in control of their own behaviour and more able to learn if they are in an environment best suited to their sensory processing needs.Homeschooling allows the flexibility to present your lessons using the sensory diet that is best suited to your child’s needs. If your child is a sensory-seeker, you can fill the lessons with lots of pictures, movement, touch and even smell; but if your child is a sensory-avoider, you can find out which sensations help him to feel comfortable and happy for learning. This must be one of the main benefits of homeschooling – you can arrange the environment according to your child’s specific sensory processing and help him to concentrate and learn.Homeschoolers can choose whether your child’s worksheets and books use a lot of colour and pictures or are “quieter” books with less visual stimulation. Homeschoolers can easily arrange for their child to leave his desk and have a short movement break, such as shooting a basket-ball through hoops for five minutes before returning refreshed and re-energised to learn the next part of the lesson. Learning math tables while bouncing a ball can easily be part of a successful homeschool lesson. On the other hand, if your child needs a quiet, still environment in order to concentrate and be in the ‘just right’ energy state for optimal learning, you can place his desk in a quiet part of the house, talk quietly when teaching and not have too many pictures and posters around him.What is important for homeschooling Mums and Dads is that you make a conscious note of your child’s sensory needs. Watch him carefully and find out what seems to energise him and what seems to drain his energy or reduce his concentration. Homeschooling parents can adapt your lessons to your child’s sensory processing needs. This is not pandering to your child, this is optimising his learning! Which is what every parent and teacher wants.Teachers in formal schools still can make many adaptations. It is not only homeschoolers who can design lessons with sensory processing in mind; although it is easier when you don’t have a large number of children in a big class. In formal classes, the teacher needs to use a multi-modal teaching approach and be aware of the children whose sensory processing is being negatively affected by over or under stimulation. When you decide which desk a child should sit in, be aware of the position of the distracting window and which children are sitting near them. Allow movement-seekers a short movement break by letting the class do 5-8 star-jumps next to their desk after each lesson and always be aware of how the volume and tone of your voice affects the children’s ability to hear and register what you are teaching. Teaching in a formal school setting is more challenging than it is for homeschoolers; but adaptations can be introduced to even these formal school lessons to ensure that all the children in the class are able to function at their true level and show themselves and the world just how clever they really are. Be aware of the different sensory processing of the children in your class and you have the key to effective lessons. Happy children, comfortable in their sensory environment are better learners.Great lessons make great learners. Great learners become tomorrow’s great minds!SHARON STANSFIELDRead more articles for advice from an Occupational Therapist with decades of experience in learning and child development. Find out more about: ADHD; Dyslexia; Dyspraxia; pencil grip: http://sharonstansfield.weebly.com/index-of-blog-posts.html

Gathering Your Homeschool Materials – Homeschooling

One of the often overlooked area of planning and discussion when preparing to begin your homeschooling venture is how are you going to supply and fund your homeschool materials, and where are you going to locate your homeschool supplies, and how will you keep it organized?Since many homeschooling parents live on one primary source of income due to the immutable fact that the other parent is a full time teacher, being penny wise and cost efficient is a must. However, with a little creativity and some practice you can put together a very effective homeschool resource and materials depot in your home.The first decision is where to locate your homeschool materials area. If you have an extra bedroom or den in your house that you can do this, you are one of the fortunate ones. However you decide to get this done the idea is to have all of your homeschool materials and resources organized into one central spot. Not only does this make your homeschooling day more efficient and less stressful, but you will also find that this central organizational approach will be much more cost efficient as you will be to easily determine what homeschool materials you have on hand and what you need to purchase as they get low.Without good organization of your homeschool resources you will find yourself purchasing duplicates and unneeded materials that will only drive up your costs. And remember the goal here is to keep your purchasing costs to a minimum!Public libraries are a great source for books but they aren’t always accessible. Buying new books can rapidly drain the budget. There are many resources available for homeschooling materials. Many homeschool groups have book fairs and other organizational event that are a great place to pick up slightly used books and materials.Don’t forget to mention to your family and friends that high on your list of needs are homeschool materials and resources. You’ll be surprised how many of your friends will donate materials that they had purchased for their kids when they were younger, and there is always your birthday and other holidays that you can put homeschool supplies on your wish list!Don’t rule any source for you out! Be creative, and be frugal and you can put together a homeschool material and resource center that will benefit everyone.