Homeschooling an Only Child

Rachel Burt Photography

By Jessica Rios

Being a one-child family is rich with depth and adoration for your one precious child. Life this way is often quieter than sibling life, with greater flexibility and of course a little less cash out of the bank.

Homeschooling or unschooling an only child can be marvellous, too. Yet there’s one big challenge I’ve found as a mother who is passionate about self-directed learning and unschooling. Can you guess what it is?


It’s wild that this is tough, really, given that relationships are my top priority in life and always have been.

I’m very good at this part of life, so how on Earth could it be difficult for me to create it with my child?

Already, the social piece of homeschooling is a part-time job. You don’t have school to do this for you, so it’s your job. Add a pandemic with a virus nobody wants to catch. Add wildfires all over our North American coast, with awful air quality that leaves us staying inside. We’re solo a lot of the time. For us, the difference is we live on 90 acres and barely see other kids. I work to create the social beat, and with a pandemic and wildfires it’s far from easy. I feel bad for our daughter, though ultimately, I think she’s OK and I know things will improve in time.

School creates a social container for the child, and that’s big. And it’s usually free of charge!

Still, my passion is big for self-directed learning that is more naturally oriented. So we move on.

For those of you with an only child who are considering homeschooling, I offer this.

Envision where you can live that offers community. It could be that you have next door neighbors who are your friends or family and have their own children. Having children nearby is imperative for a fully healthy only child. It is natural for them to play with other kids regularly.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Beth

    Hi, I homeschool an only child, too. We lived in a community where I was somewhat isolated and it was so, so hard. We ended up moving and now my son attends a private school/homeschool hybrid. He’s in school two days a week and is given homework for the other three days. He is in a night time class.

    Both my son and my husband are glad to be only children. So that’s great. Still, it’s not so easy for the mother of an only who worries about her child’s isolation. I had a very social child, so he really needed playmates. I was a nanny for 3 kids and I found one child much more time consuming because I had to be the main playmate. It wasn’t in my plans, but I am grateful for all the time we had together.

    I think there are pros and cons to siblings (being one of five myself). I’m guessing most of the time people like us, who find ourselves with only one child, perhaps not by choice, can become isolated due to a variety of circumstances we didn’t anticipate (infertility, pandemic, moves etc..). I agree with your assessment that it’s important to seek out community. As someone who has moved a lot, I thing parents should really consider moving if they can’t find community in their area. This can happen in smaller towns where it’s hard to break into long term relationships if you are a transplant.

    God graciously opened a door to help us to move out an isolated area and, now, my son is thriving. My once outgoing child was much more shy after two yrs of isolation, so it took at least 15 tries at having him join different things before we finally found a couple that clicked. We would not have had 15 things to try in our previous community.

    If you move for community, try to move to a town where there are many other transplants. There is much more of a chance for finding a community there than a place where friendships are established for years.

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