I’ve never claimed to be an expert at homeschooling. I make mistakes and I learn from them, and our schooling improves along the way. But homeschooling an only child? I’ve never done anything else. Complications from my pregnancy and an eventual hysterectomy means that our homeschool class will only have one student. I don’t know if that makes me an expert, but it certainly makes me well experienced. So with a doff of the hat to Clint Eastwood, let me share with you The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (cue theme music….)
- With only one student, my attention never has to be divided. No one has to be stuck with busy work while they wait for their turn with me. We can plow through all our subjects in about 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
- It is easier to include some “delight directed” subjects since I only have to deal with him and no one else is around to get mad that “we’re STILL studying maps or the physics of roller coasters and when do I get my turn?”
- Field trips can be less expensive only paying for one child and one adult. I also don't have to worry about keeping track of a large brood where everyone wants to go a different direction.
- I can cater every subject to his learning style. Being somewhat kinetic, he can stand on a rocking chair in front of the chalk board working math problems. To learn Spanish vocabulary I would tell him an English word and he would race around the basement looking for the Spanish translations written on index cards. If I had two or three kids doing this, it would be chaos.
- Once I discovered his learning style it was easy to choose curriculum that would best suit him. I don’t have to compromise because I have several kids that each learn a different way.
- He can participate in more sports and outside activities--Upwards Basketball, Karate, Royal Rangers. Our funds and driving time don't have to be divided up among several children with conflicting schedules.
- I have time to create "extras" like the Mystery of History Dates to Memorize posters because I only have to plan and teach one lesson per subject, not three or four at different levels.
- Occasionally Field Trips can seem more expensive when considered on a per person basis. Our local co-op also divides the cost of renting the public pool on fee per family basis—the coordinators with their family of 10 kids save big time over a regular trip to the pool, but it costs my family more than 5X the regular pass price.
- The cost of curriculum can seem higher for the same reason -- I don't reap the benefit of saving it to use with another student in the future.
- Finishing school early gives my son more free time and his neighborhood friends are still in school so he must learn to entertain himself or I have to be willing to play a game with him.
- Sometimes lesson plans call for brainstorming or acting out a drama--both activities work better with more than one person. Last spring during a review of Golden Prairie Press we made puppets for one of the skits. Even then, who is around to watch the performance? For brainstorming, I usually let him bounce ideas off me but I struggle with what is me participating in the process and what is me as a teacher providing him with answers.
- The work for science projects, etc. falls entirely on his shoulders—there is no one with whom he can divide the workload or share the fun.
- Do you get tired of answering the socialization question? Try being the teacher of a single student. I’m even asked by other homeschoolers! That’s probably one reason I allow him to participate in so many outside activities: karate, 4-H, Royal Rangers, Upwards Basketball, Centerpoint Archery. But this comes at the price of getting to spend time as a family (because everything takes place in the evening, the only time my husband it home). During Upwards Basketball season we’re often busy 4 out of 5 week nights and Saturday morning.
Sometimes I feel an added pressure on myself to get everything right. I only have one child and one chance to make sure he’s learned everything.