Many people confuse being an extrovert with being outgoing and an introvert with being shy. Although there’s often quite a bit of overlap, they’re not the same thing. Extroverts sometimes need periods of solitude and silence, but they’re energized by being around other people.
Introverts, on the other hand, often enjoy being in the company of other people, but they recharge by having time alone. So what happens when the personality of a homeschooling parent doesn’t jibe with their family’s homeschooling reality?
Extroverts Who Need to Stay Home
Sometimes an extroverted parent finds themselves in charge of introverted kids. Mom or Dad wants to take advantage of the freedom that homeschooling allows, filling up their days with teams, classes, groups, and excursions. Their kids, however, want to stay home, quietly going about their days. Most outings are met with poor attitudes and behavior from kids who are simply maxed out.
Both sides need to compromise somewhat. It wouldn't be fair for the entire family to stay home every single day. Those more introverted kids need to learn to go with the flow when they don’t feel like it, but parents also don't need to overextend their introverted kids.
Maybe the problem isn’t about opposite personalities, but rather a need to buckle down and take care of academics. The extroverted parent can easily flit from one activity to another and neglect key academic responsibilities. That doesn’t mean the outside activities aren’t beneficial or that the kids aren’t learning things in the midst of the fun things they’re doing. But we each know when we’ve crossed over into irresponsibility for our own family.
How can an extroverted parent get their people fix without jeopardizing their introverted kids’ sanity or academic achievements?
- Social media – It’s important to have self-discipline and not allow social media to consume your days, but it’s such a great way for extroverts to get regular human interaction in a season of life where they need to be home more often than not.
- Email loop – Invite a small group of friends to participate in an ongoing email conversation. The opportunity to invest in friendships while staying at home, and doing so in a manner that doesn’t conflict with school responsibilities, can be priceless.
- Weekly outing without kids – Find something to do for your own benefit, a regular activity you can attend while your spouse or another person you trust stays home with your kids. It doesn’t even have to be a formal meeting. Connecting with friends at a coffee shop or going on a walk together one night a week can do the trick.
- Weekly outing with kids - Pack up the introverts and set aside the day’s school assignments to do something fun. It’s important for you, as an extrovert, to have outings with your family and for them to understand the value of putting other people first.
Introverts Who Need to Get Out
In some families, there’s an introverted parent spending each day with an extroverted kid or two. They’re desperate for some peace and quiet, a chance to be alone, but their kids are going stir crazy and begging to hang out with other people. Those kids don’t need every square on their calendar filled up, but it’s important that that they have opportunities to develop relationships with people outside of their own four walls.
Sometimes it’s not the kids who need to get out as much as the introverted parent who’s raising them. It’s not uncommon for an introvert to take their need for time alone to an extreme and end up isolating themselves. While there’s nothing wrong with generally avoiding big crowds or constant interaction, we are created to need each other. Introverts have things to offer the people in their lives and can benefit from what those people offer them.
What are some ways the introverted parent can get themselves and their kids away from home on a consistent basis without being overwhelmed?
- Groups/classes led by others – Being part of something where you can sit on the sidelines or help out behind the scenes allows your household to enjoy the benefit of doing things with other people in a way that doesn’t stretch you beyond what you can handle.
- Park days – If you head to your local park, you’ll find the extroverts in your family will instantly find other people to play and visit with. You can spread a blanket on the lawn and read a book while they entertain themselves. Or you can enjoy casual conversation with other parents there.
- Weekly outing without kids – An introvert’s kids may be awesome, but it’s still going to wipe them out to never get a break. A regular chance to leave the house by yourself and do whatever you want is important for your sanity. An equally good option is to have a spouse or friend take your kids away for a few hours so you can be alone in your own home.
- Weekly outing with kids – Make a point to go out and do something with your kids each week. Not only will it be good for you to spend that time with them, but you’ll also be setting a good example of how to stretch one’s comfort zone for the greater good.
Worth the Effort to Change
Your personality can be a blessing or a burden when it comes to homeschooling. The good news is that the burden aspect is simple to fix. It may not always be easy, as you’ll be bending your own will to accommodate others, but your whole household will benefit when you take steps to balance your own needs with those of your family.