It’s a good thing none of my kids have friends or like people. Otherwise homeschooling sure would be a drag.
Yes. We just stay home all day long reading books. In Latin.
The kids like it that way. It’s a good thing, too, since there aren’t any sports, music, or drama opportunities for them.
The Truth About Homeschooling Extroverted (and Introverted) Kids
Let’s see. How long have I been doing this homeschool thing with my kids? I believe this would be year number 14. That doesn’t make me an expert, but it does mean that I’ve heard just about every fear parents have about homeschooling, every weird thing people say about socialization, and every question people have about the possibility of actually getting their kids through school in one piece. I’ve had all of the good days and all of the bad days and all of the days that not only make me question why we chose to homeschool but why we chose to have children at all.
Today let’s talk about whether your kids are introverts or extroverts and how that works with homeschooling.
We have four sons ages 11-18. While they haven’t taken the actual survey to properly pin-point their personality types, and while our third son is so laid back it’s hard to tell if he even has a vert at all, I can tell you that it is very clear to me that our oldest and our youngest are very much extroverts. (When discussing this earlier in the week, our second son informed us that he is both an omnivert and a herbivert – because he likes both meat and vegetables. He is the kid who taught me how to make up words.)
Let’s begin by talking about my extroverted kids – one of whom graduated last year after 13 years of homeschool and just successfully completed his first semester away at college.
Just last week, while talking about college life, our oldest said something about how many people there were on campus to be friends with and how there just wasn’t enough time in the day to spend time with all of the people he would love to spend time with. Of the 475ish students on campus, Asa knows almost all of them and is a part of their friend circle in some way. He loves being with people. He can be in rooms full of people for days, then end the week by saying, “We should have some people over.”
And our youngest. He’s 11. While explaining personality differences a few weeks ago, I could barely get the definitions out about introverts (get energy by being alone) and extroverts (get energy by being with people) before he interrupted and said, “Oh, I’m definitely that extra-one. Whatever you call it.” Yeah buddy. I know. Malachi loves his people time. He can hardly stand it when I close my door to work alone because he has so many sentences and necessary pieces of information to share and he can’t stand that I might miss something.
Justus (almost 16) and Elias (almost 14) sit more on the introverted side of the fence. They can spend hours alone working on music and writing lyrics with headphones on and be perfectly content for days. Funny though. Those two have just as many friends as my extroverted sons.
So point number one:
1. Every kid – introvert, extrovert, can’t-decide-which-vert – every kid needs people.
I am every bit of an introvert (I recharge by being alone), yet I have oodles of friends whom I love and need in my life. All of us are either introverted or extroverted and have many, many people whom we love and need in our lives. The same goes for our kids.
We all need people. We all need relationships. We all need to deny self (whatever that might look like for each of us) in order to serve and love others.
The word “socialization” makes me want to pull out my eyeballs with salad tongs. If the world would stop focusing on getting our kids socialized and simply focus on teaching our kids to love people the way Jesus loves people, that would probably solve…well, most of this world’s junk that needs to be solved. If everyone did the people thing the way God created each of us to do the people thing (introvertedly or extrovertedly) – wouldn’t that just be nifty?
So, no matter our personality type, we all need people. Therefore, I have absolutely concluded that being an extrovert or an introvert doesn’t make one more or less suited to be homeschooled. Which leads me to…
2. Going to a school building with lots of children and teachers does not necessarily meet the extrovert’s needs better than homeschooling.
While I think there are parts of “going to school” my extroverted kids would enjoy, there are other parts that would be very difficult for them. This is in no way a comparison or a “my way is better than your way” post. On the contrary, I am saying that there are different ways to meet an extrovert’s needs and being in a classroom full of kids is only one of those ways.
It’s a (big, fat, salad tong, eyeball) myth that homeschoolers are “home all day” or “never with people.” Goodness, there have been many weeks that I wondered how we could ever actually be home long enough to finish our school work (the kind that involves books and software).
Our family life is naturally full of people. Ironically, the fullness of this is actually because of the fact that we homeschool. I believe our time and social circle might be more limited if we didn’t homeschool. Interesting to think about.
Our church life and ministry focus’ includes several outings each week – all full of people. The older boys go to church camp up to 7 weeks during the summer between weeks of serving as counselor or enjoying time as a camper because they love it so much and want to live there forever. There are monthly youth rallies hosted by churches all over Nebraska where our boys meet up with dozens of their friends to worship, eat nachos, and not sleep for 56 hours straight.
And then there’s soccer in the spring and fall and basketball all winter. Plus we invite people to our house frequently. There are field trips and homeschool gym days and science days. I’d write more about what we do with people, but as an introvert, this list is starting to make me tired. Which leads me to…
3. Introverted parents need to be aware of their extroverted kids’ needs.
My extroverted kids obviously love the “going” and the “doing” more than I do. What energizes them wears me out (in more ways than one because I’m 42 and there’s only so much coffee). But it is very important that I realize that they need the going and the people just as much as I need the quiet and the alone time.
As mentioned in point number 2, providing people time for my kids hasn’t been incredibly difficult. It happens naturally in our lives because of our choices and priorities, and because of what our boys have latched onto as they’ve discovered their gifts and interests. Thankfully, the older they get, the more they can create the people time for themselves. They can make the phone calls and the arrangements and I can mostly sit back and provide the popcorn.
I want to be as aware of my kids’ needs for people as I need them to be aware of my need to be alone. I feel an actual ache if I haven’t had enough alone time to recharge. I imagine it’s the same for my extroverted kids when they haven’t had enough people time. I try to be aware of this and provide rides as needed and outings or invites as I can.
But on the flip side…
4. Extroverted kids need to be aware of their introverted parent’s needs.
This has been more of an issue with our youngest extrovert than it ever was with our oldest – likely because Malachi is the youngest and his older brothers have ready-made outings because of youth group and middle school/high school sports. As a fifth grader and our youngest son, Malachi finds himself at home alone with the parents while his brothers are all off doing teenage activities.
This means that I have to stretch myself a little more to accomplish point number 3 (working to meet Malachi’s extroverted needs even when it’s a stretch for me). But it also means that I’ve had to teach Malachi to understand that there are times he needs to go hang out with his Legos and let Mom enjoy some quiet. It’s been good for him to learn some of these big people concepts and understand what energizes him vs. what energizes me. I can now say, “Mom’s gotta have some closed-door quiet time so I can get some work done now.” or “Bud, my introvert is getting ready to explode. Let’s take a break after we finish this game so I can recharge.”
He gets it. It’s actually kind of cool and maybe, just maybe it’ll help him in future relationships.
5. And the flip side of all of those…
If you are an extroverted parent with an introverted kid, be aware that if you drag them around to lots of outings where there are lots of people, they might melt down when their introverted self gets tired. The exhaustion is a real thing and what might come out as naughtiness, might actually just be weariness from all the people. Plan accordingly. If your introvert needs to sit alone and read a book for a while so they don’t choke someone, well…just pack a book.
6. This isn’t just about homeschooling.
I believe most of this applies to families whose kids go to public or private school too. Each kids’ downtime needs are going to vary based on whether they are introverted or extroverted. Some may come home from school ready to invite the neighborhood over for a party. Others may need to find a quiet hole in the wall to be alone and recharge.
7. I love that God made us all different on purpose.
I’ve shared before that I have, at times, grappled uneasily with God because He made me introverted. Sometimes I feel that life would be so much easier – so much less exhausting – if I was an extrovert by nature. But picture it. What if we were all extroverted? What if we were all introverted? What if we were all go-getters – not one laid back person among us? What if all of us were quiet and reflective? What if all of us were the life of the party?
God has an obvious good system going on here with His creation. Our job is to work with what He’s given us and love and live accordingly. I’ll play my part, you play yours.
Meeting our kids’ needs through all of these differences? Well, sometimes it’s challenging. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for family life and school choices. If you ask and listen, God will make it clear to you what is right for your family. But is it possible to homeschool your extrovert? Absolutely.
Tell me about your kids and school experience. Have you noticed which of your kids is more introverted or extroverted?