Monday, November 7, 2011

The Last Years of Homeschooling

When my five children were younger, we would gather around the kitchen table for our studies. There was a healthy competition among them. They wanted to see who could shout out the answers first - in subjects like math, spelling and geography.

I would give them a writing assignment - something fun. They would head off into different rooms, smiling, wanting to come up with the BEST story. When they were all finished, they would come back into the room, eager to read their creation to the other children.

Those were the days when homeschooling was easier. Now that I am only teaching one student - my youngest at 14, there is no competition to help motivate and inspire him.

Our schooldays are more quiet. We sit together and do his assignments. He often studies on his own, completing much of his homework without me. He also does some of his work on the computer.  It is a strange new experience.

I miss seeing all the children at the table, excited about their writing projects, or happy to finish their math. We have entered a new phase in our home - the last years of homeschooling - and it is difficult to adjust.

I would love to hear some creative ideas from you mothers who are homeschooling only one student. Will you share your stories and ideas?

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Creating A Restaurant Style Breakfast at Home.

I am Just a Regular Mom.

Hard Times - How The Old Time Mothers Survived Poverty.

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Debbie said...

I am schooling only one now too and yes, it does get lonely and too quiet.

We still do some subjects together and the rest he does on his own, at the diningroom table.

Our diningroom is in the middle of our old farmhouse so whether I'm in the kitchen or the livingroom, working at my own desk, I can be near.

I miss the days of having 2 students calling "mom" and filling up the morning with questions.

Seasons are changing.

Blessings to you today:)

Always Learning said...

I let them get involved in the nearby Christian high school...playing sports, participating in the school play, etc. They loved it!

RebeccaL. said...

I have a little preschooler, an 8th grader and a senior in high school (we homeschool). My 2 older ones generally do everything independently, I am here for testing or running over a report or spelling words but for the most part, I am alone with the little one. She and I do about an hour daily of phonics, Bible, etc. We used to gather around the kitchen table as well, working all morning, teaching and learning. I miss it desperately and I know my days are literally numbered in having my oldest around during the day. I have no answers, it really is hard and I am not enjoying that part of my life right now. My children bring me great joy, I guess this is just part of the life cycle.

LeAnn said...

My daugher home schools; but right now she has 5 children home. She leads a busy life.
I have had friends who have been homeschooling just one child and they feel much the same way as you do.
If I have a telephone conversation with them; I will see if they have any new ideas.
Blessings to you!

Rebecca Knox said...

It is much the same here, Mrs. White, and, like you, I miss the excitement of the old days. Homeschooling the five older children was so much easier than it is to do the one on the end. Our youngest one came along TEN years after the youngest of the five older ones and it has been hard. I, too, would enjoy hearing from others that schooling just one because, to be honest, I've never quite figured out how to do it! Thanks for sharing!

Laura in AZ said...

Hi Mrs. White,

Have you given any consideration to a home school co-op? Since you enjoy baking, you might be able to offer a free cooking course for teenaged homeschoolers , while another mom might be able to offer a course in a different subject or skill. This would expand your homeschool a little bit, at least on some days. Of course cooking is just an example--the possibilities are endless.

Volunteer opportunities are another idea. Is there a shelter, food bank or library where your 14 year old might be able to volunteer alongside you for an hour or two a week? I'm very much a home-body, but I found that getting out of the house and breaking up the routine really helped when my older kids moved on and I just had my two youngest being taught at home.

It is a tough adjustment. Another thing that really helped me was to simply reach out and bring others into our 'school'---We put out an open invitation for cousins and friends to come on over and spend the day with us if they were off from school. We were still able to engage in educational activities while socializing and adding a little unpredictability to some of our days. (In fact, there were times when we had such a string of visitors,that I came to appreciate the quiet days when they eventually returned!)

Let us know how you're doing...and SAVOR these last days of homeschooling!

Laura in AZ

Illinois Lori said...

Dear Mrs. White,

I am not just in my last years of homeschooling, I'm in my last YEAR of homeschooling! Nathan is 18, and a senior, ready to graduate in May. He's my "baby." I am now 51 years old.

Yes, things are quiet here. Nathan and I "gather" for just a few days each month, when his history curriculum is in "discuss and critical puzzling" mode, or if I'm giving feedback on an English paper he's written, or to discuss a passage in a book. Otherwise, his day is spent in his room where he does very complicated math problems (he's in calculus at the local community college) that I cannot help with or teach, and where he also does his online computer programming course (again through the community college) and his online advanced physics class. He's a busy guy!

He is also my social child, and it's been an adjustment for him to get used to his older brother being gone all day (he attends another local college).

I don't fee any need to seek out "co-ops" at this stage of my life, nor do I particularly desire to school someone else's day is full enough, even though it is quiet.

As a family, we do practice a hospitality ministry, so we open our home every Friday evening to homeschooling friends/families from our church community and we play games and just fellowship together from 7pm until about 10pm. It's been a really wonderful routine, and my guys enjoy knowing that if they get all the school work done, Friday evening is friends night! Once a month on a Sunday afternoon we host an open house for our church, too.

I have enjoyed having this time alone with my son...we have had many wonderful conversations about everything under the sun! He is self-disciplined, a self-directed learner, motivated, and fun! Now and then we'll pack up the books and, if it's a nice day, we drive to our local arboretum and do school outside, amongst the trees! (You could do this at a local park, too.) If the weather isn't so nice, the arboretum has a library in it, and we'll bring the laptops in there, and all the books, and we'll work in there. We've also gone to places like Panera, which have free WiFi, and he can connect to the internet for his 1-1/2 hour long online physics class while I enjoy a cup of coffee and do my own "office-type" work on my laptop. McD's and other places have this available, too. It's just a nice change of pace now and then from the desk in the bedroom.

This last year that I have with Nathan is the most precious of all to me, I think. Frankly, you couldn't pay me to try and find somewhere to "send" him! I think by working hard to bring enough socializing into his life outside of school hours, there hasn't been a need for putting it into the school hours.

A while ago, I wrote an article for my weekly column in the Old Schoolhouse Magazine's online blog, The Company Front Porch. It was about helping our kids see the greater purpose in their homeschool studies, which I have found helps tremendously with a student who feels "bored" with their homeschool. It is geared toward high schoolers (my column was "Homeschooling Through High School"), and you can read it here:

Enjoy these quiet years with your son, and I will be praying for you to find some unique places where you might "go" to do school together for a change of pace, or for an opportunity with friends and fellow believers to come your way!

Many blessings,

Marcia Wilwerding said...

I hear ya. Our two oldest are married and starting their own families, the youngest is in the Marines, and our only daughter living at home is working now for a local Christian company. If it weren't for the love bird, I would be very lonely indeed.

This empty nest thing really snuck up on me (and hit me with a two-by-four between the eyes). I thought four kids was a lot, but not when they're all gone. Thankfully, the first grandchildren to come along live in the same town and attend our church. That helps a little. But, I went through a very dark and lonely grieving period before I finally got used to the quiet.

Now, I am busy trying to re-evaluate and re-order my days. Pretty much all of the housework lies on my shoulders again. It's been at least 17 years since I did this solo. But, it's exciting to try new things and put into practice some things I have learned over the years.

I am finding there is grace for this season of life, also.

Jade Clark said...

I am only schooling one right, but he's my first - so we're just getting started. I have a little one not too far off, who will be ready soon enough. And we do plan to have more. I look forward to those times when I can have them all around the tale engaged together! Sounds so precious!
Stopping by from the Hip Homeschool Hop, catch me at

Taryn said...

My son and I enjoyed reading books(researching authors) and watching movies together during his high school years. In 10th grade-World Literature- we watched The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Miserables. We watched the older DVD of Around the World in 80 Days. In 11th grade-American Literature- we watched Moby-Dick(BW) and To Kill a Mockingbird. We read Abeka's On His Own by Horatio Alger. We read Booker T. Washington's autobiography(Abeka). We watched Ben Hur, Last of the Mohicans and Uncle Tom's Cabin. We discussed Mark Twain and watched a DVD.(With my daughter we watched a DVD of a 1949 movie called Pinky and we watched Cheaper By the Dozen-the old version). In 12th grade-British Literature- we watched the Black and White movie, Robinson Crusoe and read Veritas Press's edition of the book. We also saw the BW movie,Great Expectations(Charles Dickens).(With my daughter, we read/watched Sense and Sensibility. We also read/watched Jane Eyre.) We didn't like a Pilgrim's Progress DVD. We used Abeka's Literature book in 9th grade. We saw The Hiding Place(I liked the movie more than the book). We also watched the BW movie, Sergeant York(WWI) and discussed nonresistance and pacifism. We did belong to a co-op one year.