Homeschooling With Skeptical Family Members At Thanksgiving

How to Approach Homeschooling With Skeptical Family Members Around the Thanksgiving Table


 

Choosing at home education is not a decision to be taken lightly. We put in hours of research to find the best homeschool curriculum. Every day we give of our time to ensure our children are learning. It’s a journey of discovery, learning, and growth- for us and our children!

It’s also a journey many outside the home education community don’t understand. It’s a journey individual sometimes criticize or make assumptions about. For home educators, Thanksgiving can turn into an emotional day of inquisition from skeptical family members. We are here to provide you with a few tools today to help guide your conversations.
 

How to Approach Homeschooling With Skeptical Family Members Around the Thanksgiving Table

 

  • Common Scenario #1- Skeptical family member quizzes homeschool students on facts. A family member may make comments about what the student “should” know.

 

Advice: It may be a good idea to have a conversation with your children before your family gathering. Equip them with responses or prepare them that it may happen. Make sure they know they may share any information they like but are not obligated to do so. This will, of course, depend on the age of the student and how comfortable they feel talking with adults.

 

One option might be: “I’m not sure about the answer to that but let me tell you about…” They can then share something interesting they’ve been learning. Or they may politely respond with “After we enjoy our meal, I can show you some of what I’ve been working on.” It may also be a conversation a parent needs to intervene in. Respond with a spirit of love remembering home education is a foreign concept for a lot of people. Also, remember children in public schools are used to being quizzed.

 

Quick Exit: You might respond with, “We don’t typically quiz (name) as part of our schooling so they're a bit unfamiliar with how to respond. (Name) would you like to share something you’ve been learning?” or “Thank you for showing an interest in what we’re studying in school. We’ve recently been learning about… ”

 

Avoid it all together: Have your students prepare a brief presentation or bring materials or a completed project. Let relatives know ahead of time the students would like to share what they've been learning with interested family members. If you feel you need to, let them know your preference is for the children to not be “quizzed” about school. This way they can show curious relatives what homeschooling is like. It also gives students the chance to take pride in showing off their work. Grandparents especially love to see what kids have been working on.

 

  • Common Scenario #2: Relative says something like “I don’t know HOW you do it. I could never homeschool my children.


Advice: First of all, remember your children are listening to hear how you respond. Yes, there are days we consider dropping them off at the nearest public school. Yes, there are days we feel ill-equipped and are floundering. Yes, there are days we feel like we can’t do it after all. Our children are listening to how we respond. Respond with words of life, joy, truth, and love. Build up your kids and their hearts. And respond with words that build up the other parents to know they could do it and thrive too!

 

Quick Exit: “I felt that way too. It’s been a delight.”

 

Avoid it all together: Share a tidbit from a homeschool group or forum about how you’re comforted with the reminder most homeschool parents jump in without any teaching background. You could also share how much you’ve been learning too as a home educator.

 

  • Common Scenario #3: Relative asks if you’re afraid home education will destroy their love for learning.


Advice: This tends to be a big one for people. A lot of families choose to homeschool because they worry public school will destroy a love of learning. This is a subject that can lead to an argument about school structure. Tread lightly and share the joy your children find in learning. Describe how their eyes light up when they learn. Share how they work on school work during free time. Tell how much YOU’RE loving it compared to the educational experiences you’ve had before!

 

Quick Exit: “No.” Plain and simple :)

 

Avoid it all together: Share how glad you are about the decision to homeschool. Tell details about a moment of particular joy in learning. Share how your child starts school alone. Or how they get excited waiting for you to finish breakfast dishes.

  • Common Scenario #4: The dreaded “socialization” word comes up.


Advice: This is another topic that can turn into an argument. You know your audience best. One approach might be to share fun outings, coops, nature groups, etc you’re involved in. Another approach might be to say you don’t feel like children in school get much time to visit with friends in a relaxed setting. Or there’s always the snarky response of “We socialize dogs, we build children’s relationships.” Buuuuuut that one doesn’t go over in a lot of crowds. Or turn it around and ask “What does socialization mean to you?”


Quick Exit: ”That’s a common stereotype of home education and we’re not concerned about it.”


Avoid it all together: Share about your children’s friends and activities.

 

  • Common Scenario #5: Teacher becomes defensive that you’ve chosen to reject formal schooling.

 

Advice: Again, this is another tread lightly and you know your audience scenario. Teachers, and parents who adore their public school, often get defensive. To be honest, when I used to teach I did too. I thought homeschooling was irresponsible. 15 years ago I would have said there was no way I’d ever homeschool. Share your “whys” in a loving way. Give examples of experiences you’ve been able to have that school wouldn’t have allowed.


Quick Exit: If it’s something you truly feel, try a comment like: “You know, I’d be more inclined to send my children to school if more teachers were like you.”

If you think it will escalate into an argument, “I think this may be a topic that’s best we agree to disagree about and enjoy our meal.”


Avoid it all together: If the topic seems to be creeping that way, change the subject. Or comment on how nice it is to have another educator around and ask questions about the classroom, favorite subjects to teach, etc.

 

  • Common Scenario #6: Other children at the meal think homeschooled kids are “weird.”

 

Advice: Depending on the age and self-esteem of your children- this may be one to prepare them for. Not only on Thanksgiving but as a homeschooler. This seems to be a common misconception. Most likely, this would come up while you are out of earshot and shared to you by a tearful child later on. You could talk to your student about stereotypes and how they’re not true. And tell your child all the things you love about them. I think this stereotype may come because homeschoolers are viewed as not culturally aware. (I could write an entire blog about this!)


Quick Exit: If you overhear children calling names, intervene as necessary.


Avoid it all together: Chat with other parents before the meal. Ask them to tell their children what homeschooling is. It could be helpful for you and the parents to find common interests between children for them to know about ahead of time. If they can bond over a shared interest, your homeschoolers is “relevant." Plus kids always get along better with a shared interest.

 

Common Scenario #7: Concern is raised that kids aren’t getting “enough” learning.


Advice: Students in public school are gone 7-9 hours per day. Teacher spend 25%-50% of their day doing behavior management, managing transitions, and other tasks that aren’t necessarily teaching. You could throw out stats or respond a bit about your educational philosophy.


Quick Exit: “We’re all happy with our schedule and the kids are thriving!”


Avoid it all together: Stay away from information about your daily schedule.

 

Common Scenario #8: Guests assume you have to follow traditional stereotypes such as you grow your own food, grind your own flower, raise chickens, have a big family, etc. to homeschool.


Advice: If I had a dollar for every confused person when they found out I homeschool an only child. The stereotypes about a homeschool family abound. Share how home education is growing across all family sizes, religions, lifestyles, cultures, etc. Keep it polite and thoughtful. Or turn to humor and make a joke. I also know many of us do fit some portions of the stereotype. If they ask about some way it applies to you, share it or make a joke depending on your personality. :)


Quick Exit: “You know? I have yet to meet a homeschool family who fits the traditional stereotype.”


Avoid it all together: Stereotypes stick and they stick strong. This is one people are likely to at least joke about. Remember it’s not a personal attack or insult. It’s the human mind and societies attempt to classify something they don’t understand. Only by open and honest truth can we break any stereotype.

 

  • Common Scenario #9: The age-old homeschool question of “How will they succeed in college if they’ve never been in a classroom?”


Advice: This is one every homeschool family has to tackle on their own at some point. If your children are still young, you can say it’s something you’ll consider more when they are older. Or share ways other homeschoolers have approached this such as- sending kids to high school for courses such as chemistry and AP courses, taking classes at the local community college, starting a small business as a teen that does not need a degree or jumping right into college. (Hint- on the last option, most students thrive because they’re used to self-study already!) This would also be a good one to turn back around and ask, “I’m curious what it is about home education that makes you think it would be hard for them.”


Quick Exit: “We’re not worried about it. (Name) has excellent learning skills!)


Avoid it all together: Give your older teen a chance to share how they’ve been preparing for college.

 

I hope these scenarios have been helpful for you. The Thanksgiving table can, unfortunately, become a place of stress and fights. Remember to keep things in a spirit of love. Also, remember you don’t have to defend yourself to anyone. The choice for home education is what you have decided is best. If the conversation gets heated or you feel uncomfortable, shut it down with that reminder. I hope you won't need any of this advice and you’ll have a fun Thanksgiving meal- but I’m glad to provide it in case you do!


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Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces..


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Practical Ways You Can Help Your Child Manage Emotions



Children will always have emotions. However, some kids find it very hard to manage their feelings. This post will outline nine practical and effective ways that you can help your child manage their emotions without overwhelming them or yourself.

 

Importance of Emotional Management to Children

1. Emotional problems can be very damaging to a child's self-esteem; it can also negatively affect their relationships with peers and their ability to focus on schoolwork. Studies have shown that the more emotional control children have daily, the more successful they are in life.

 

2. Emotional problems can disrupt your child's learning process. Being overly emotional is a problem for students since they often do not know how to cope with their emotions and usually get distracted by them instead of getting work done.

 

3. Emotional problems can trigger other behavioral issues. An emotionally overwhelmed child is most likely to act out and become disobedient or disrespectful to authority figures like parents and teachers.

 

4. Kids with Emotional Management Issues are more likely to have relationship problems in the future. These future problems can be related to both intimate relationships and friendships. It is not just kids that struggle with emotional management; many adults do as well. Read about adults who need help managing their emotions here.

 

5. Children with poor emotional management are more likely to have social problems as teenagers and adults. These social issues can include but are not limited to bullying, drug abuse, and risky sexual behavior.

 

Nine Effective Solutions for Managing Kids Emotions

Here are nine ways that you can help manage your child's emotions. Every child is different. Sometimes the solutions I outline might not work for your child; however, you should find a solution that does work for your kid. These solutions are based on proven research and have worked for many parents.

 

1. Talk to your kid about the emotions they have.
Kids feel better when they talk to someone about their feelings. Whether it is a parent, a teacher, a friend, or even an adult who is not familiar with the child, your child feels better when talking out their feelings with another person. Most people feel better when talking through their issues with someone else.

 

2. Have your child think about what they have done to cause their emotions.
Sometimes, kids feel intense emotions simply because of a particular situation they are facing or how it was dealt with. When you ask your child to think about what has happened, most kids will tell you what event triggered their emotions.

 

3. Help your child find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings like taking a walk, reading a book, doing an activity that makes them happy, etc.
Sometimes kids need to take in their feelings to be able to let them go. Helping your child find a healthy way to deal with their emotions can be very helpful. Try to think of ways that would make your child feel comfortable when they feel overwhelmed.

 

4. Help your child express their feelings in a healthy form.
Kids who are bullied, picked on, or made fun of are more likely to be angry and get hurt emotionally by other kids. If you help your child find healthy ways of expressing their emotions, they will be able to take their anger healthily.

 

5. Make sure your kid has proper health and physical care.
Emotions will affect your child's ability to focus on schoolwork and their physical well-being. If you have concerns that your child's feelings affect their work or health, talk to a doctor about it.

 

6. Enforce logical consequences to your child's hostile actions.
Sometimes kids act out of anger or frustration when they are not given what they want. This behavior is usually caused by why your child did not get their way or feel that they were treated destructively. Enforcing logical consequences to their behavior can help them learn how to deal with these emotions more productively and healthily.

 

7. Help your child learn to accept and accept negative consequences.

Sometimes kids act out of anger or frustration because they feel as if they are not being listened to or valued by someone but instead punished for their actions. Please help your child learn to accept the negative consequences that come with their efforts.

 

8. Help your child learn to take healthy risks.
Kids who learn to take risks and experience positive feelings will be happier and more secure with themselves. Please help your child find healthy ways of taking risks that are beneficial for them.

 

9. Listen to and appreciate your kid's feelings when they express themselves.
Sometimes, kids feel intense emotions simply because of certain situations they are facing or how it was dealt with. When you listen to your child and appreciate their feelings, they will tell you what is bothering them.


Kids who have poor emotional management can be hard to deal with. The children who are in this group may feel as though they are misunderstood because their peers and teachers don't understand how they are feeling. They may lash out at other kids, their parents, or even teachers without understanding why they are doing it. However, with the right help and guidance, these kids can learn to manage their emotions appropriately and will be able to live happier and more fulfilling lives.

Guest Blog Author: Andrea Gibbs, Montessori Academy

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Anchors That Hold Your Homeschool Day Together

Anchors That Hold Your Homeschool Day Together!



Do you sometimes feel that your homeschool day literally runs away from you and before you know it, it’s time to start dinner? The kids are grumpy; you are wondering what exactly you accomplished today and walk into the kitchen hearing those lying voices whispering in your head, “You can’t do this. It’s too hard. You’re not cut out to be a homeschooling parent!”

 

You are not alone. As a second generation homeschooler who has been teaching my kids at home for over 26 years (my youngest is 9) I still have days like this. Let me share with you one of my favorite tactics that keeps us going and silences those awful voices in my head.

 

Anchor points. Rather than feel like I have lost all control of my plans for the day, anchor points hold us to a rhythm and provide natural breaks in our day where we can come back to refocus and maintain the momentum.

 

Here are anchors I have found helpful:

 

▪ Meals eaten together (sometimes with a specific discussion)

 

▪ Family Reading Time: Read an exciting book everyday (we read at 12:30 while the kids eat lunch)


▪ Morning Time: A time where everyone comes together and follows a short routine - I often combine this with breakfast (I like to read a fun history story at this time)


▪ 10-Minute “Everyone Moves”: This activity can be linked to a time or a specific subject


▪ Digital Hour: At my house no screens are allowed prior to 3:30 - this way they don’t ask and there is motivation to finish their checklists by then


▪ Quiet Time: This can be a time for reading or napping depending on the family needs


▪ Snack Times: Having snacks available or prepared helps this to be a stress reliever instead of a stress inducing time - and always a favorite for the family

When used with grace and flexibility, these anchor points can serve as place holders in your day - times or activities that both you and your children look forward to and help keep you on a steady track. If everyone loses it during reading, then stopping for a 10 minute movement break and a snack can serve as a reset and bring everyone back with smiles, ready to tackle math.

 

Keep your anchors steady but flexible and they will serve you. They are meant to help not provide another rigid framework to make you feel like you are failing. Fit the anchors into your day that make the most sense and change them up as the needs of your family change.

 

Catherine Donnelly

Catherine began her formal education journey in Montessori preschool. Following a short stint in regular school she was homeschooled from 5th grade on. After being her college's first homeschooled graduate, she and her husband decided upon home education for their five children. 27 years, and many adventures later, she is till homeschooling their youngest 3 children. The foundation of Maria Montessori's principles have been a consistent thread throughout their learning journey and Catherine was delighted to discover Shiller Learning and join forces with them in 2020. In her sparse free moments she can be found reading with her children (or hiding in a corner reading by herself); writing articles for her blog, books or various clients; playing with her children; or dressing up in various time period costumes and traveling to historical sites.

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Give Yourself Grace



Homeschooling looks a little different in every single home.

 

It’s so easy to see a picture-perfect social media post about another family’s schooling experience and feel like a failure when you compare it to your real-life everyday. Let me assure you, that NO ONE is better equipped than you to love and find the best way to teach your children. Whether you are full-time homeschooling, hybrid or virtual learning, some days are just messy. Whether home educating is your way of life or you were thrown into it suddenly by a worldwide pandemic, YOU have what it takes to help your kids learn.

 

Stop for one minute. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Now let go of the idea that your homeschool should look like anyone else's. Let go of the idea that your homeschool should look like a public or private school. Trust yourself. Trust your children. You can figure this out.

 

As your family works together to choose what is important, remember that nobody can do it all. Give yourself grace for the days nothing goes as planned and realize; these days were still about learning, it was just a different lesson than you anticipated.

 

Give your kids grace too. Hug them, read to them, let them read to you. Get out math manipulatives and discover together. Cook something fun and talk about measurement. Go for a walk. Drop sticks in a puddle or a creek.

 

Life is short and you are so fortunate to have these days to grow and learn together. Teach your kids to be gentle with themselves by letting them see you be gentle with yourself.

 

Catherine Donnelly

Catherine began her formal education journey in Montessori preschool. Following a short stint in regular school she was homeschooled from 5th grade on. After being her college's first homeschooled graduate, she and her husband decided upon home education for their five children. 27 years, and many adventures later, she is till homeschooling their youngest 3 children. The foundation of Maria Montessori's principles have been a consistent thread throughout their learning journey and Catherine was delighted to discover Shiller Learning and join forces with them in 2020. In her sparse free moments she can be found reading with her children (or hiding in a corner reading by herself); writing articles for her blog, books or various clients; playing with her children; or dressing up in various time period costumes and traveling to historical sites.


Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome Undesired Behaviors

Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome Undesired Behaviors


At ShillerLearning, I recently answered this parent question:

"My 12-year-old son used to be best friends with another boy in the neighborhood but now that's off and they a scream at each other all the time, what do I do? "


two kids playing in the park

 

What’s your goal?

 

Is it to keep them from screaming at each other? Or something else?

 

Whatever goal you have, ask yourself why you have that goal. When you answer that question, ask yourself why that’s the reason. Keep asking why until you have the real reason: The REAL uncomfortable truth you are dealing with.

 

For example (I’m brainstorming here, I don’t know your situation), maybe you feel responsible in some way and that if you had parented differently there would have been a better outcome.

 

Whatever you come up with, now fill in the blank in the following sentence: The right thing to do in this situation is _______.


 

For example, you can’t go back and re-parent but you can have a transparent and open-minded (non-judgmental) discussion with your son about why he’s engaging in this behavior and helping him to understand his goals and the best way to reach them, just like you did for yourself above.

 

Tips to make this process work:

1. Don’t jump to conclusions: take logical baby steps and don’t assume ANYTHING

2. Don’t judge: deal with facts only

3. When you have a negative emotion, realize you have it but don’t show it: make your behavior support your goal, not your ego

 

What situation have you been in like this? What did you do?

 

Let's help each other: Tell us your story so we can share it anonymously with our readers. You may email blog@shillerlearning.com or comment below.



Larry Shiller

Larry Shiller is President of ShillerLearning, whose mission is to help kids learn and fulfill their potential. Shiller has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School and is the author of Software Excellence (Prentice-Hall).

A father of three, Shiller is active in non-profits and his hobbies include working with local startups, music (Shiller is an accomplished violinist who - when not helping children learn math and language arts - performs in the NYC tri-state area), tennis (Shiller's team made it to the USTA national finals in his skill bracket), Quoridor (Shiller is a former USA Champion), backgammon (Shiller is the Voice of Backgammon, doing commentary on backgammon tournaments worldwide), table tennis, and flying (Shiller holds a private pilot's license).

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Mother Culture Moms Teach Better with Education

Mother Culture

Why Homeschooling Moms Are Leading by Example with Their Own Education


Mother Culture- Why Homeschooling Moms Are Leading by Example with Their Own Education

I absolutely love being a homeschool mom, it is such a blessing. Being able to affirm and educate my child has been a life altering change for both of us. What I didn’t consider when we decided to homeschool, was how much my parental guidance and example to learn myself would shape what our homeschooling looks like. But something unexpected has happened while I’ve been homeschooling. A feeling that I just can’t ignore any longer... Seeing my son have a love for learning and experiencing seeing him learn new things has made me want to learn too!

What Is Mother Culture/ Mom School??

 

Shortly after beginning to homeschool, I started hearing the phrases “Mother culture” and “Mom school.” I wasn’t quite sure what these meant as a homeschooling mom. Where these special programs for moms to learn how to homeschool? Were they someone trying to bring back basic culture and manners? No, not quite. Basically, these phrases relate to the growing community of homeschooling parents who are learning alongside their children. Parents who are being an encouragement and setting an awesome example by learning new skills and developing their own education.

 

Developing your own education helps to affirm your at home schooling and set a great example for your kids. It also helps to keep your mind fresh and ideas sharp. You’ll find great encouragement for moms at home among the community of homeschool mom’s who are also learning, and it’s something great to do FOR YOU! I had a Mom friend with 5 children tell me that she needs something to do other than “Think about wiping noses and bottoms all day.” So true! Your parental guidance and example makes such a difference!

 

What Are Homeschool Parents Learning About?

 

This answer is as diverse as the number of homeschooling families that exist. Do a quick web search for “Mother culture” or “Mom school” and check out some of the encouragement from those who are walking the walk and learning with their children.

Ideas for what to study include:

 

  • Work ahead in your student’s curriculum, many parents choose to start between 5th and 7th grade.

 

  • Study a period of history you’re weak in knowledge on, or a culture you don’t know much about.

 

  • Choose the subject you’re most intimidated by and make it your “masters,” education is power and will help you feel less worried about what’s to come in your role as teacher.

 

  • Catch up on the classics, grab some classic literature and dig in!

 

  • Study that thing you wish you’d have taken a class on in college.

 

  • Take up a foreign language.

 

  • Do some ancestry studies.

 

  • Read Maria Montessori’s books, and other writings on the Montessori Method.

 

  • Take a few personality tests, work through books on temperament and learn more about YOU.

 

  • Learn to cook, sew, make herbal remedies, ferment your own food, raise chickens, or anything else you’ve said “someday…” to- someday is here!

 

But, I Don’t Have Any Extra Time to Learn!

 

Finding the time to add in something extra can feel intimidating. I totally get it, I work full-time, homeschool, hand wash all my laundry and dishes and cook 3 meals a day from scratch. I don’t telll you this to brag, I tell you because something I’ve really learned in the last two years is there’s always time and we can always find time to do something that matters.

 

Try having the kids listen to an audiobook or watch an educational film to 15-30 minutes while you learn. Ask a friend to do some childcare swapping. Sit down and work next to your children. Get up a little earlier or stay up a little later at night. You can find the time if you’re creative! Look on Meetup, Facebook, or Yahoo groups to find a mom’s group near you. Moms teaching other mom’s through classes, book clubs and co-ops are getting much easier to find. Perhaps you can find a homeschool mom’s group to study together? This will help provide opportunities for you to hang out with other grown-ups and learn together. If nothing exists, start your own or join an online community. No matter what you decide to do, know you’re setting a great example of education and learning for your homeschoolers.

 

If you still don’t have a clear idea on how to find time as a homeschool parent, I can help. We held a webinar with dozens of homeschool moms to share:

 

- How to enjoy the structure of a schedule without the guilt if you don't follow it to the minute
- Ways to escape comparison and the "Pinterest Perfect" life
- Building in "relax time" to your homeschool for your family to recharge and renew
- Three words that will save you from feeling you MUST have "all the answers" when your kids have questions
- Ways to love your homeschool when you're a working mom

 

Watch a whole hour long video on How to Enjoy Homeschooling Through Bad Days, Overwhelm, and Change

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Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

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Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Amanda and her family reside in an Airstream parked in Washington State. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, she also blogs, works as a virtual assistant, and loves creating hand-lettering pieces.


Homeschooling an Only Child

Homeschooling an Only Child

Joys, Challenges, Tips, and Stats


He sits next to me wrapped up in his favorite blanket. We laugh as we read our current literature selection, Robin Hood. There is no baby needing a diaper change. No big sister wanting help with her creative writing project. It's just the two of us. The day is ours. My family looks different than most homeschooling families. We have chosen an at-home education for our only child.

It is a unique journey filled with joys and struggles alike. I have the advantage of being an only child myself. I understand what it's like to be the only kid around. Although I went through public school so we're navigating this homeschool journey together. Here is a peek into our journey, stats on only children in the US, and encouragement for other families homeschooling an only.

Homeschooling an Only Child in the United States


Homeschooling is on the rise. The NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) estimates 3.4% of children in the United States are educated at home. This is approximately 770,000 kids. I am actually surprised. I thought it would be higher than this.  

 

The statistic I was floored by is that 20% of United States families are single-child families. In large cities, only-child families are found in 30%-40% of homes. Seattle happens to have the most number of single-child families at 47%! Parents in a large city are generally LESS likely to homeschool, however.  

The NCES found over 60% of homeschool families have three or more children. Data has not been collected on the number of families homeschooling an only. It's definitely not reflective of the 20% of US families that have one child.  

 

Over 60% of homeschool families have 3 or more children.  

 

I know a lot of homeschoolers. Most of my closest friends are homeschool parents. I hardly know any other parents of only children. I have never met another homeschooling parent of an only child in person. I've been able to connect with a few online. I interact with thousands of homeschool families. We are definitely in the minority homeschooling an only.

Unique Joys and Challenges in Homeschooling an Only Child

 


Yes, homeschooling an only is hard. Homeschooling any family size is going to present its own unique difficulties. It's also full of joy! These are a few of the unique things an only child homeschool family faces:

 

  • Loneliness- Not only loneliness for the child, for homeschool parent as well. Yes, the phrase "lonely only" can ring true. However, in a culture that's largely big families- it's easy to feel lonely as a mother too. Kids connect a lot easier to one another regardless of family size. I would love to have another mother in my life who is homeschooling an only to be friends with. I have yet to find anyone in my area homeschooling an only. The other only child homeschool moms I've connected with online say the same thing. Plus, our kids get lonely for other kids to play with. I remember that vividly as a child. We also value our friends and the time we get with them because we know how fleeting it can be to have a playmate.

 

  • Learning becomes a family affair- Homeschooling an only opens up new connection for the entire family. I have the chance to dive in deep to everything I am teaching my son. I get to study everything with him. No getting him started on something while I help a sibling. My entire attention and focus is on whatever he's learning. I am amazed at how much I've already learned and grown. I often tell people that WE are in second grade. My husband loves to come home and hear about what we've been learning together and he loves to help out as he can.  

 

  • Curriculum is much more expensive- One of the benefits of most curriculum is that you can use them with multiple kids. The price of curriculum goes up a whole lot in your mind when you know you'll only be using it once. Yes, you can sell it after you are done. I find it's a bit more of a mind game when I look at the price tags for something knowing it's only going to be used by one kid. One thing I love about ShillerLearning's materials- the kits last a LONG time instead of one school year.  

 

  • Energy wanes- Being the sole playmate and the educator is exhausting sometimes. I get worn out pretty fast. My son does too. Kids feed off each other's energy. Without another kid around sometimes we both get tired and cranky.

 

 

  • Higher demands- There are much higher demands on both of us than on a larger family. We don't have several kids to split the chores between. We don't have older siblings to help teach concepts I am struggling with. There are no other kids to bounce ideas off of or to provide entertainment. Plus, only children have an extremely high likelihood of putting a ton of pressure on themselves. Knowing this first hand, I try to minimize it as much as I can. It still rears its head pretty often.

 

  • Deeper bond- Our bond has gotten so much deeper as a homeschool family. I remember as a kid never wanting to leave to go to school. Homeschooling wasn't something I knew about as a kid but I didn't want to go to school. Only child families usually report being more connected to one another and having a stronger relationship. Having the chance to homeschool and learn together has been a beautiful relationship for us. I truly can't wait to see how it changes and grows throughout the years.

 

  • Not enough time- I joke with people all the time that the only thing I don't like about homeschooling is there's not enough time. The homeschool world is vast. There are great resources out there. Mothers that homeschool large families have the advantage to get to try more materials out. They're able to find what works well for them, and grow in their profession as a home educator. I once read it takes a professional 10-15 years to find their footing in a career. I won't get that long as a homeschool mom. I won't get to read all the books or try all the programs I want. I don't get to go back for a re-do of things from when my son was younger that I loved. I value and cherish each day because of this. It also makes me sad.

 

Tips for homeschooling an only


Want to make the jump to try homeschooling your only child? Already have an at-home education set up for your child and want tips and encouragement? Here are a few tips:


  • Find a nature group, coop, or regular group for play-dates- You both need it. A once-a-week nature school or art class might be one of the best choices you make for your homeschooled only. It gives you a chance to have some space from one another, gives you a break, and gives your child a consistent group of friends.  

 

  • Music and art are your friends- Turning on a little classical music and creating an art piece can help diffuse the most tension-filled day.

 

  • Pick curriculum wisely- Look for materials, such as ShillerLearnings's, that will last several years. For other materials, find a friend with children whose ages are bookends to yours you can borrow from or split the cost with.

 

  • Love your library- It's the best place to save money and meet other homeschoolers!

 

  • Have open communication- This is a must among your spouse/partner and your child. Keep the dialogue open about the struggles and joys of your experience.

 

  • Take a break- Being an only child parent is demanding. Make sure you get a break on a regular basis. Even if it's for an hour alone in your home while your kid goes to a friend's. You've got to take that time or you're going to struggle.

 

  • Learn together- Find subjects you both are interested in and dive in together. My son and I are studying homeopathy together and it has been incredible.


Model lifelong learning- Give your student the chance for some independent study time. While they're at it, pick up a topic you're interested in as well.  

  • Get help- If you need to get help with cooking, chores, or cleaning to focus on education, that's ok! The demands of educating an only are high and it's ok to get help. It is also ok to get help for subjects that are difficult for you to teach.

  • Connect- Find a way to connect with other only child homeschoolers. The Internet is an amazing tool!

  • Let things go- If you try something in your homeschool that isn't working, let it go. You'll both be miserable trying to force something you both hate.  

  • Have fun!- This is the journey of a lifetime for both of you. It's the only chance you're going to get. Have fun, let the memory of bad days roll away, and enjoy the adventure.

 


Do we have any other only child homeschool families in our community? Reach out and let us know your tips, challenges, and how we can support you! You can reach me at amanda.osenga@shillermath.com

Make sure to check out our Free Monthly Activity Packs. We design them to be usable by only children through large multi-age families, my son even helps create some of the materials! You'll find a new one every month and they're an excellent way to get free materials for your child to use.


See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.