Written by Purva Brown of The Classical Unschooler
The holidays are coming! Ready, introverts?
Yes, that was said tongue in cheek. Because if you’re anything like me, you’re already dreading them: the people, the conversations, the parties.
Don’t get me wrong: I do enjoy people. I love giving gifts to the ones I love. I look forward to the look on their faces when they receive them. But being around people all the time also wears me out emotionally.
If you’re an introvert, you already know this. If you’re an introvert homeschooling an extrovert, you know this better than anyone else.
I know because I am one. I have three children – one introverted, one extremely extroverted and one… well, we just don’t know yet. It’s too soon to tell. However, I can tell you that even with just the one extrovert, our days can be a little hard to navigate.
So what to do? I have found seven ways that help us deal with our extroverted blessing in our quiet, introverted family.
1. Field trips and play dates
For introverts homeschooling extroverts, field trips and playdates can be life savers and can preserve peace in the home. If you’re part of a homeschooling co-op or group, try to attend as many field trips as you can with them.
Even if you’re not particularly thrilled by the location, giving the extroverted child a chance to get out, be in crowds and with other people – whether she knows them or not – will be invigorating. And you can relax for a bit because you don’t have to create the environment, just be there.
When I was going through a particularly hard time with a little baby and two young kids, I hired a babysitter once a week, every week, for a few hours. Every Wednesday I knew I could get out of the house and be by myself for a few hours.
I still look back at that period with fondness. It helped to clear my mind, journal, or just watch a movie by myself. It gave me space – something I craved, while giving my extroverted daughter time to play with the babysitter.
Do not discount the power of extracurricular activities. Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of too many of these and, I absolutely do not think we should fill up our days driving our children around from one class to another.
However, a class in music or art, can help a child get the kind of stimulation she craves while still learning something of value. All education does not need to proceed from you! It’s still homeschooling even if it involves some classes outside the home.
4. Family Contribution
Extroverts usually have a strong desire to lead others. Give them the responsibility of teaching younger children, reading to them and having other responsibilities around the home.
My daughter, for example, loves teaching my four-year-old and reads to him often. One of my favorite memories was when he was two and obsessed with the number “two.” She asked him addition sums that added up to – you guessed it – two. It was adorable to watch him answer and listen to her cheer loudly.
5. Quiet time
Afternoons tend to be our quiet times and I guard them. This is the time I must have in the middle of the day to recharge, take a nap, read or just stare at a wall (true introverts will get this). If I get just an hour of sleep, I can invest the rest of my time in all that is required of me.
If I don’t get my quiet time, it shows. A few days in a row without it and I’m running on fumes. My children know this and do their best to respect it. Some days, they need that space, too. Even extroverts take naps! And it’s nice to know that there is room in our days for them.
6. Quiet space
Closely related to quiet time for me is also a space where there is no clutter, no toys and no visual noise. It has taken some time, but I have finally taught this to my children. In the evenings, before they go to bed, they remove all their toys from the living room, especially the brightly colored ones. Those bright colors add to visual “noise.”
I don’t require them to be neatly put away – bins work fine. Even a closet I can close works. We also put away all our school work. And our bedroom is always a big no-no for toys. As an introvert, there has to be a quiet space – a cave, if you will – that I can run to for a few minutes in the midst of the craziness.
7. No comparisons
God has entrusted you with your child. Introvert or extrovert, no one else knows that child better than you.
So trust that as long as you are working for the well being of your child, your family probably won’t look exactly like any other family. The good news is… it doesn’t mean either of you are wrong. There is more than one way to homeschool an extrovert and that’s just fine!
Are you an introvert homeschooling an extrovert? What strategies do you use to make it all work?