Introverts homeschooling extroverts: Practical ways to make it work

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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.

2. Community

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.

3. Classes

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.

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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.

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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?

About Purva Brown

Purva Brown is a writer and homeschooling mom to three. She writes on a variety of topics across many genres and lives with her husband in Sacramento, California. Her most recent book is The Classical Unschooler. She blogs at PurvaBrown.com.

Comments

  1. Love this, Purva! I am an introvert homeschooling two introverts and one wildly fantastic extrovert. <3
    Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley’s latest post: Fundanoodle Scissors Keep Lefties and Righties Happy

  2. I am an introvert with 11 children – and many of them are extroverts. The noise, the activity, the constant clutter, etc. – – – it wears me down. These are very good reminders – and an affirmation that I really do crave these things because they are necessary for my mental and spiritual well-being!

  3. Oh, yes, quiet spaces are wonderful. I’ve found that even sitting in the car relaxes me (as long as there aren’t any kids yelling!). I try to allow my kids as much time to play outside as possible. They love to be outside, and I love to have a quiet house…even if it’s only for a few minutes! This is why I am NOT looking forward to the cold weather. I don’t mind the holidays at all. What I do hate is everyone being cooped up inside all the time!
    Shelly’s latest post: An Inside Look at Our Relaxed Homeschool- Spotlight on the Middles

    • Yeah, that happens to us in cold and very hot weather, too. That’s why we homeschool through the summer. The 100 degree heat coupled with long days means they’re inside almost all day!
      Purva Brown’s latest post: The Three Lessons of Monopoly

      • I’m an introvert homeschooling one extrovert, one introvert, and one that remains to be seen too! Loved your ideas! Was also curious about how HS thru the summer works in your family? (We get extreme heat here too in summer and often find ourselves cooped up, looking for things to do!) Do you just do year round HS or when do you take breaks?

  4. This is a great reminder Purva! I am an introvert but often function as an ambivert. My first is an extreme extravert so my first years of parenting were rough. My husband is an extreme introvert and as our kid number has increased (we have 4, ages 7 and under) his introvert needs have become more pronounced especially as his job taps his people time a lot. So sometimes I can go the whole day and not be alone ever (we have a small apartment in Boston). I need to make quiet time a priority!

  5. Love! I do many of the things you’ve suggested already, but it’s sooooo nice to hear that I’m not the only one who really needs those things. Thanks!

  6. Oh man, I know this story well! I am *exactly* like you and quiet time is just non-negotiable. If I didn’t have it, there’s no way I could homeschool. We do everything here you mentioned for my little strong-willed extrovert, and I make sure he can play outside for (nearly) as long as he likes after the neighbor kids get out of school too, while my daughter and I are quietly engaged in something or I’m reading if my husband is home. 🙂
    Sarah M’s latest post: Curriculum Picks for 2016-2017 (2nd & 4th grades)

  7. Giving your extroverted child responsibility had been a HUGE help in my home. These are really great and practical suggestions. 🙂 another thing for me is letting the extrovert have one on one time with me where she can talk out all her ideas and observations of the day. As an introvert, I can just listen. That has helped us so much. ❤️

  8. cathy/gramom says:

    Thank you! Confirmation! Someone understands. …to all the above- amen!!

  9. I am majorly an introvert (I totally get the sitting and staring at a wall thing!;) ), homeschooling an extroverted and wildly energetic kindergartener, and I also have a wildly energetic and clingy toddler. It’s tough to get my quiet time in the midst of that. Often my only quiet time is my shower. Some days I take very long showers. 😉 Sometimes I try to get up beforehand kids do I can drink tea in peace and quiet, but, not being a morning person, that doesn’t happen too often. Clutter and toys lying around exhaust and drain me, so when we moved recently we dedicated a room in our new basement as the toy room. In fact toys are not allowed on the main floor. And on the rare occasion that I can coax the kids to go play downstairs without me, it gives me a quiet break too. I struggle with field trips and play dates, because these exhaust me, because it means being around extra people. But I know they’re important for my little extrovert, so I’m trying.

    • Hayley,
      Oh, boy! I remember those days! This will pass, trust me. I still have a fairly energetic 4 year old, but I remember how drained I was when my older two were little and into everything. Don’t wear yourself out. Do you have a mother’s helper? You should! This WILL change as they get older and you won’t feel quite as drained. Hugs!
      Purva Brown’s latest post: The Three Lessons of Monopoly

  10. I am also an introvert but I can’t pin my kids yet – I thought they were introverts too but they can’t seem to stop talking and wanting to be around me all the time. Once we are done with school work – they know that they must play outside and let me be by myself.

  11. So true! As an only child with a very absent parent, I really struggle having my large family around all the time. I know i’ll miss them someday, but………………:P
    Kelly’s latest post: Learning through Unschooling: A Day in the Life

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