I am the parent of six introverts. I am strongly introverted so it’s no surprise that my kids are too. Homeschooling an introvert is, in general, easier than homeschooling extroverts. This is because two of the hallmarks of introverts are quietness and a desire to be at home. Your extroverted children may clamor to go to school for the social life, but your introverted children will probably be much more content with the homeschool lifestyle. Still there are a few pitfalls of this personality type that the homeschooling parent should watch for.
What is an Introvert?
An introvert needs quiet, alone time to recharge and feel comfortable and content. Too much stimulus from their environment and they are going stir-crazy. It’s like the opposite of cabin fever.
Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shyness is a fear of what other people think and say about you (or what you think they are thinking).
Neither are introverts anti-social. They like people, but usually prefer small groups of friends or one-on-one social interactions over rooms crowded with people. Introverts may go to the party and be ready to leave in ten minutes while an extrovert is feeding off the energy of the group and doesn’t want it to ever end.
When a baby is born, their brain is already wired toward introversion or extroversion. An introverted person can get used to and learn to cope with an environment that is loud, colorful, busy, and highly stimulating, but they will never really be comfortable or happy in that kind of environment.
Introversion or extroversion is a huge component of a person’s personality. You might say it is the foundation upon which the rest of a personality is built. But still, it is just one aspect of personality and should be understood in that context.
An Introverted Study Space
Homeshooling an introvert means your child will probably need a quiet space to study in. An extroverted child may want loud music blasting through the room while he’s chugging through his math, but the introvert wants quiet. If you have multiple children you will need to take this into account with separated study spaces and/or training in working quietly and raising hands. Headphones for the extrovert, please.
The study space of an introvert should be clean and simple. There’s an elementary school in my town that nearly makes by heart stop when I walk past the windows and peek in. The walls are plastered with every sort of poster imaginable. There are stacks of papers and books on every surface. The shelves are higgledy piggledy covered with clutter. The desks are in the dreaded group formation (the bane of every introverted school child everywhere). Overall the scene is one of abject chaos. If your home is like this, your introverted child is probably struggling.
My house is obviously the house of an introvert. There are very few things hanging on the walls, no photographs, only a few of my favorite art pieces. The colors are all muted and soft, in the neutral range. My favorite decorating color is white because to me it is peaceful and simple. There are book shelves covered with books in most rooms, a definite introvert pastime. I don’t own a single nick-knack. The only holiday I decorate for is Christmas and that causes me some struggles. The surfaces in my kitchen are completely clear. The only things that sit permanently on the kitchen counters are the toaster and a tin of kitchen utensils. I wish I could get rid of both.
Your introverted child needs a similar study space. They need a clear desk or table (it can be the kitchen table, but it should be sans junk during school time), uncluttered walls, organized supplies, and quiet to focus effectively on their schoolwork.
You don’t necessarily need to turn your whole home into an introvert’s haven, just make sure your introverted child has a space that suits her so she can focus and be comfortable.
Stretching the Introvert
While introvert is not synonymous with shyness or social awkwardness, you do need to make an effort to have your introvert interact with other people, both in their peer group and with other ages on a regular basis. One of my boys is especially introverted (he’s also my loudest and least-shy child) and complains every single time we leave the house to do anything. He wants to be at home. He would literally never leave if we didn’t make him.
Sign your little introverts up for a team sport or a club like 4H, scouts, or a co-op class. Take them to parties at the church, with extended family, with other kids, or at your homeschool co-op. Being pushed out of our comfort zones and learning how to deal with things outside the familiar and comfortable is a part of human growth. Just make sure that afterward there is time and peace to recharge.
Make your introverts work on group projects sometimes. Now, as an avowed introvert myself, I absolutely loath group projects with every fiber of my being. They are horrendous. There are always lazy people in the group who do nothing. There is usually a bossy person who wants everything her own way. No one can agree. True leaders who can direct and manage and assign in a constructive way are vanishingly rare. So much time is wasted when a person working alone could bust out the same project in one tenth of the time and with better results. And everyone gets the SAME GRADE no matter what their part entailed.
But, if you approach the group project with the idea that the purpose is to learn to work and collaborate with others, rather than the purpose being to actually learn or produce a good product then group projects can be a valuable learning tool for your introvert. Besides, in real life you often have to work with dysfunctional groups so it’s good practice, especially if you take the time to talk about the group dynamics afterward and how to constructively deal with different personality types.
Homeschooling an Introvert
Be grateful if your kids, like mine, have never once longed for the public school. That’s one battle you don’t have to fight.
Do make sure your introverted children have quiet and clean spaces to study in and recharge.
Stretch them by getting them involved in groups and taking them to parties and crowded places.
Help them to find quiet spaces and times to get their emotional life back on track.
Check out one or more of these books if you or a family member are introverted. The information is eye-opening.
Have an Extrovert?
Karen wrote an article all about what its like to homeschool her extroverts (and ambiverts).
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