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  1. #1

    Default Homeschooling an only child

    My husband and I had a child late in life and decided to not have any more children. Our son, M, is 4 yrs and would be starting 4K this fall in our school district. From the beginning, I have been determined to homeschool so that we have the freedom of learning outside of the classroom. As it gets closer to enrollment time, we are wondering about whether homeschooling an only child will give M the social development that he needs and wants. Just lately M keeps asking for a sibling so he has someone to play with, and he quickly attempts to make friends with any new kids he meets.

    We are going to enroll through our school district’s home learning plan which gives us some funds to spend on curriculum and allows M to participate with any school activities or classes that he wants.

    I would appreciate any thoughts on homeschooling an only child. Thanks!

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  3. #2



    Having an only kid that wants a playmate at this age is pretty typical. You may need to beat the bushes to find opportunities - most people say to find activities *not specifically for homeschoolers* and meet friends that way. My introverted, slightly misfit experience is that I didnt like any of the other parents, so I never made playdates... which stymied the deep friendship making attempts by my older. (My second boy was.... unexpected.)
    Feeling “older” when you have your kid, meaning you dont have friends and peers all with similarly aged families, makes it a little more difficult to get consistent playmates. Maybe you can expand your social group with a hobby or club that would have adults-you-like with kids. To me, having something in common with the adults would make playdates much more bearable.

    Your kid will have BETTER social skills by a mile than kids in public school - in a couple of years this will be woefully obvious to you. Your kid will treat other adults and kids as humans, will respond civilly, will have confidence to interact with store clerks and librarians.

    Since your local district provides services to you, they may have an unofficial co-op and playdate arrangement too. Ask, and ye shall receive.

    The only child / loneliness thing isnt unusual, and being in a pack of same-aged peers, following the dominant personality, isnt really a guarantee of friendships, either.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3



    We are homeschooling an only and the social issues is not problem. We don't work with a homeschooling group but there are so many opportunities for after-school programs with sports or extra curricula activities that they will have lots of ways to meet with other kids.

  5. #4


    We homeschool an only (stepson is 22 and doesn’t live w/ us) and DD begs for me to play with her all the time. When we’re home all day, she begs me to play with her. As soon as we get home from an activity w/ other kids or a play date, she begs me to play with her. When we finish homeschooling, she begs me to play with her. WHILE we’re homeschooling, she begs me to play with her. When I’m done playing with her, she begs me to play with her more. Her desire for a sibling has only increased over time. We also dream of a close neighbor child, but there aren’t any around. Social skills can build through interactions w/ others, but with other children is very important. Try to get to a lot of meet ups and hopefully you’ll find some others that you both mesh with. Also try library story times, after school programs, swim lessons, school sports, etc.

    As an aside, my husband and I spent most of our lives with only 1 or 2 close friends and we attended public school. Your child doesn’t need to be at every play date and have a million friends, but multiple days a week with others and at least one close friend is important. Good luck in your homeschool journey and remember that one day too soon, they won’t want to play with us at all, so soak it in (or drown in it!) while you can.
    Getting ready to start 5th grade with DD. Grateful for having the guts to go with this crazy notion of homeschooling my kiddo.

  6. #5


    Two of my kids' homeschooled friends are from one-child families. Both kids have great social skills, have friends, go to a lot of out-of-house activities (and not through a school district).
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD9, DD6

  7. #6


    I would try to also think of all the good things about homeschooling one child. Things like you don't have to juggle teaching multiple age groups, or deal with siblings fighting, and when your child is working or playing happily on their own, you can have time to yourself.

    I was just homeschooling the one child for 2 years, while her younger sibling was at preschool. But the younger one just turned 5 and is home now, and so far, I am not sure if the pros (of someone to play with) outweigh the cons (like detailed above).

    My oldest has a more enriched and healthier social life now that she is not in school. She was in public school for three years, and seemed to get along just fine. But in retrospect, she is much more confident and happier socially now that she spends a lot more time on her own at home, and has higher quality social interactions with a broader range of people through after school activities and errands in the community.

    If you don't like being a play stand-in, you don't have to. My youngest asks me to play with her, and frankly I just don't do it. I am not a person that likes doing imaginative play. So I offer her the things I do like to do with her, and she is always happy to do one of those. We bake/cook, garden, color in, listen to music/dance, do yoga, go for a walk, clean/tidy (she loves to help with chores), do board/card games, and read books.

    I have made it clear to my youngest that if she gets bored of being at home and she wants to try school, even just for play time, that she just has to let me know. So you can always just try it out and see how it goes. Nothing is forever, and you are not going to do any irreparable harm by trying. I think we all get worried about "failing" or "doing it wrong" in some way, and it helps to remember that even if we do "fail" or "get it wrong" in the grand scheme of things, its probably only going to be a little blip. Then as long as we are aware and open to options to rectifying it, there is no harm done.
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

  8. #7


    Our homeschooled son isn't an only, he's the youngest of 6 kids but he's the only one still at home. I also homeschooled my older kids, our son's half siblings, for at least some of their education before their father and I split. So I have had both juggling a full house homeschooling and now homeschooling what is essentially an only.

    Our son has fantastic social skills. He can just as easily talk to elderly people in the store as he can with other kids on the playground. He does want us to play with him a lot but he's not lonely at all. His short stint in Headstart for his speech issues made his social skills worse, not better. We had reteach him proper social skills to undo what he had learned from 30 other 3 and 4 year olds.

    One advantage I've found to homeschooling an only verses homeschool a larger family is that I have more time to devote to tailoring all his lessons to him. He is a whiz at math but only average at reading. So we are able to dive deep into math and go as far as he is able and still do reading at his level. When I had a house full of kids to homeschool, I couldn't always do that because I had other kids to teach too.

    I am also able to follow more rabbit trails with him. We can take our time and learn all there is to know about a topic that interests him without having to balance siblings that are ready to move on to the next topic.

    So far I've found homeschooling an only to be a wonderful experience and definitely not at all like I thought it would be.

  9. #8


    I also know homeschooled onlies who are fine socially.

    With homeschooling, you do have to make an extra effort to give your kids a social network. Some homeschooled kids do get isolated. But sometimes kids at school feel isolated or are socially awkward or unhappy too. In general though, homeschooling is good for kids socially, even only children.
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