One of the most frequently asked questions from homeschool skeptics is "What about your child's socialization?" For families blessed with just a single child, this question seemingly becomes even more pointed. In this month's "What's on Your Mind," Alpha Omega Publications offers parents helpful ideas to successfully keep an only child from becoming lonely.
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Q: How do you keep an only child from being lonely when there are no homeschooling co-ops nearby or children in the neighborhood the same age?
- Bobbi R., Florida
A: If a homeschooled child has no siblings, it's natural for him to feel isolated. However, as a parent, there are many things you can do to deal with feelings of loneliness in an only child.
• Ask a few questions to yourself and your child. Is your child truly lonely? Has someone else convinced him that he needs to be around other children to be happy? Does he think he's missing out on something?
• Teach your child to entertain himself by playing on his own after a full day of homeschooling
• Practice the seven don'ts of parenting an only child:
- 1. Don't overindulge
2. Don't overprotect
3. Don't fail to discipline
4. Don't overcompensate
5. Don't seek perfection
6. Don't treat your child like an adult
7. Don't overpraise
• Join organizations like 4-H clubs, scouts, and church groups
• Schedule regular outings to the city park
• Attend church regularly and invite families with children for Sunday lunch
• Get together once a month with several mothers with children your child's age
• Start a game night at your home with other children
• Encourage a teen to find a part-time job
• Visit the public library for story time
• Join a recreational sports league in your community
• Plan a special event for homeschool families in your area
• Take advantage of programs in the community (community theatre, chess competitions, etc.)
• Serve others by volunteering to help with yard work or baking for elderly neighbors
Remember, your child's friends don't necessarily have to be in his own age group. He can play with younger children in the neighborhood or connect with elderly seniors living nearby. Like the balance you provide with one-on-one tutoring and independent studying opportunities while teaching, balance your child's interests between childhood and adult activities. In the end, your attitude toward the situation and how much you get your child out to do things will eliminate any loneliness he might experience while homeschooling.