Homeschooling and the Introverted Mom

by Cindy on May 18, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, not all homeschoolers are introverts. In fact, I’d say the percentage of extroverted homeschoolers is probably very close to that of the general population. Though I do think there is (a little) something to the stereotype of the recluse who homeschools because it is easier than learning to get along with the rest of the world, that’s not necessarily because they are introverted but just because they’re nuts. It happens. Has nothing to do with homeschooling.

99% of us are just normal people trying to raise our kids in a more intuitive, less institutionalized environment. Some of us are very extroverted, some very introverted, and most lie between the extremes.

If you’ve never taken a Myers-Briggs type personality test, now’s a great time to do that. Who doesn’t love a good personality quiz? The test I’ve linked seems accurate. I took a professional one once long ago and got the same result. I’m an INTJ, which I’m told means I smell funny and nobody really likes me very much. Hmph.

Anyways, that I stands for Introverted, and I’m pretty strongly oriented in that direction (though the degree of I seems to fluctuate depending on my hormonal condition), so I have the pleasure of living up to that particular homeschooler stereotype. Don’t misunderstand introverts: we like people and need them! But introverts don’t have the same need to be seen and heard that extroverts do in order to feel that we’re really alive. In fact, we need to be alone for a good portion of the time in order to keep our heads screwed on straight.

Stereotypes notwithstanding, for a homeschooling mom–especially one with a large family– introversion can be a significant hurdle to clear. You’d think introversion would be a reason why I homeschool, but you’d be wrong! Not having to interact with large numbers of students, parents, and teachers is certainly a plus (especially given some other aspects of my personality), but the only real temptation I’ve ever had for sending my children to school is my frequent inability to muster the energy to talk to people all day long every day.

I tend to get a bit grumpy after a couple of days of intense interaction, even with my own kids. Honestly, I don’t know how these people can stand me. I’m not the ideal homeschooler, unfortunately, and I’ve had to hit my knees in prayers of repentance for my attitude and behavior more times than I like to admit because of it. I’m still learning how to balance my needs with those of my family, and I expect homeschooling will be a twenty-year trial by fire in this respect.

I have, thankfully, learned a few things that might help fellow introverts, and I’ll have at least one more post on the topic soon. Before I get into my own thoughts and observations about successful homeschooling (or just mothering) for introverts, though, I’d like to know more about you, whether you’re a homeschooler or just a curious reader. Let me know your thoughts in the comments:

Are you more extroverted or introverted? How does it affect the way you raise your children? Can we still be friends, now that you know I don’t really like you that much? (Kidding!)

{ 24 comments }

Celena May 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm

“I tend to get a bit grumpy after a couple of days of intense interaction, even with my own kids. Honestly, I don’t know how these people can stand me. I’m not the ideal homeschooler, unfortunately, and I’ve had to hit my knees in prayers of repentance for my attitude and behavior more times than I like to admit because of it.”

I think the fact that you’re willing to hit your knees makes up for any shortcomings you have regarding homeschooling. :) Blessings!

Cindy May 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm

It certainly helps. :-)

Moms Mustard SeedsRebecca May 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Yep…ISTJ – though I think INTJ fits me better….haha!

Cindy May 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I knew we were a lot alike!

Sarah May 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I was just thinking about how I recently joined a homeschool group so my daughter could get the interaction she needs, but how I was just not comfortable interacting with the parents there. And I was thinking that maybe it’s because I’m an introvert and don’t ease up to people as fast as the others in the group. So the personality test — INFJ. Maybe I should print out the description and give the other parents a copy so they know I’m not being hoity-toity? :)

Diana May 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I knew you were a kindred spirit! Fellow INTJ here. :) I have been thinking lately a lot about how being an introvert makes homeschooling hard because it is SO difficult to KEEP TALKING all day when I really just want to be QUIET and ALONE and not talk. That’s one of the reasons why I have made daily quiet time around here an iron-clad institution – because if I don’t get a bit of time alone, I turn into an irritable, cranky mess. Or more of one than usual. I would love to hear more about how to homeschool as an introvert! :)

Cindy May 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Let me know any thoughts you have and I’ll include them! I don’t know everything about it, that’s for sure.

Dawn Wright May 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm

He he he….too funny I am ENFJ- totally and EXTROVERT!!!!! He he he….which explains my love for a large family! Although I do like a bit of time to myself- just for sanity. I REALLY LOVE being around others- A LOT!!!!!!!!!!

Cindy May 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm

You’re frightening me. Calm down a little. LOL. I’ve always envied extroverts a little bit. Must be so much fun!

AmyG May 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm

ISFJ – the last time I took the test in college…INFJ after taking it tonight.
I have 9 kiddos that I adore, and I love teaching them at home; however, there are MANY days I would love to send them off just for peace and quiet for myself. That will not happen for many years at this point. I have had to learn (or am learning) to be content in a noisy, messy environment :o)

Jai Daniels-Freestone May 19, 2012 at 2:35 am

Having been in and around Home Ed for nearly thirty years now, I have to say that I’ve never heard of ‘the recluse who homeschools’ and certainly never met anyone like that! Re-inforcing sterio-types is never uselful when dealing with anything that different from the normal system, so using the term reclusive and Home Ed together is never a good thing!

Cindy May 19, 2012 at 8:16 am

Well, of course you wouldn’t hear from them! They’re recluses! LOL. I’d say the number of reclusive people who homeschool is about the same as the number who don’t.

Tammy H. May 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

I’m an ISFJ. The most important reason that I homeschool is because I believe that the shaping of our children’s character is the responsibility of parents not a private or public school. Another reason is that I actually enjoy being with my children. I had them because I want them, and want to be with them. I certainly need moments of peace, but I get that every day with nap times or quiet activities (for my non-napper) that are built into the day during nap time.

Ashley Cozzens
Twitter: oliveonandon
May 19, 2012 at 11:28 am

I was scored an INTJ, but my weakest % was T. The last time I took one of these I was INFJ. I’ve always suspected that I sort of tilt back and forth between certain traits. Maybe a sign of the “all or nothing” perfectionist in me. I don’t know how much I buy into astrological signs, (not really at all) but I am a Gemini, and supposedly that means I have competing personalities/traits. Seems accurate of me sometimes.
It’s interesting to me to think that the introverted would get tired of talking all day. I never thought of it that way, but I can see that becoming true once we begin school. My biggest frustration as an introverted parent of two toddlers is spending most of my day with people (toddlers) who don’t appreciate logic and reason. I am easily frustrated when they don’t ‘get’ something. Does that sound horrible??
Obviously, I rely heavily on prayer and the Good Lord working patience in me :)

SleeplessinSummerville May 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I’m unquestionably introverted. True story: I once answered an ad for a study on social phobia thinking to get some help for that. They told me I didn’t have social phobia (when I read what you wrote of your own experiences with it, I realized they were right) but was just kind of introverted. I’m not even so badly introverted, just really poorly socialized… I’ve been known to get stressed out over “parties” involving less than half a dozen people. On the other hand, I do like talking and think I could do it all day long, but in reality it just hasn’t come up for me to that more than a day or two in a row :)

Cindy May 20, 2012 at 10:03 am

And it’s interesting how my social phobia and my introversion don’t seem to have much to do with each other, either. I can function quite well in any social situation not involving formal wear (I am a hillbilly, after all), but every now and then something just snaps and sends me running away for no obvious reason. Most of the time, though, it’s smooth sailing for me. It’s just more like a roller coaster ride than a picnic, interacting with large numbers of people, so I get my fill of socializing from smaller doses. For an extrovert, I gather that it’s the opposite, but I know extroverts with social anxiety, too!

SleeplessinSummerville May 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Oh, and who put all the extroverts in charge of everything, anyway?

Dawn One Faithful Mom May 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm

My type is ESFP. My one word title is “Performer.” HA!! That’s me alright.
I am an only child, first grandchild on both sides, and only girl on both sides for 14 yrs. Some people call folks like me a “ham, but boy is that unflattering. Even if I am having a bad day, and want to be left alone, I can’t be. One of my close friends told me last year, “Dawn, you are just a people magnet. No matter where you are or what you are doing, people just flock to you.”
People also tell me all their problems and issues…even people I am not close to. I had a lady tell me once that I should have been a bartender or a hair stylist, since she could see that not only she, but everyone else in her office was coming into the room I was in and telling me their life stories. Weird.
Being an only child though…I do love to be alone to read and write and think. I actually LOVE to be alone. Wish I could still have my own room sometimes; hubby isn’t quite with me on that one though. : )
As a mom of 10, and an extrovert, even I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer mass of people I deal with every day, but the “performer” in me puts on a big smile and everybody thinks my life is just awesome!!

Dwija {House Unseen}
Twitter: HouseUnseen
May 21, 2012 at 10:54 am

I am ENFJ but right on the E/I cusp….so despite being technically and extrovert, I do need my quiet, alone moments too in order to function. I think that’s probably why it took me 5 years of public schooling to finally make the leap to homeschooling- I was too afraid to give up the peace and quiet!

Cheryl Pitt
Twitter: SomewhatCrunchy
May 22, 2012 at 9:59 am

I just took the test and apparently I’m an ISFJ, hmmm, I’m going to go see what that means :) You know I love you even if you don’t like me that much LOL. This is all great food for thought, I love the way your mind works.

Melody, Countrified Hicks blog May 22, 2012 at 11:18 pm

My type is:
Your Type is
ENFJ

That was fun!

janeen herlugson May 23, 2012 at 10:37 am

I am ISFJ. I agree with being extremely introverted because I can go for days and not leave my house and I hate having a cell phone because then I have to talk to people. Kinda sounds like I have other issues maybe??? Thanks for your post on this, it is nice to know that I am not the only one that is introverted and homeschooling. I feel guilty for not socializing my kids more than I do. I take them on field trips with our HS group and they take music lessons, have friends over, go places, etc.. But I have two (out of 5 kids) that are extroverts and thrive off of social interaction and they are always asking me to go places and do things. It is hard for them to understand why I prefer not to have a ton of friends rather than just a few close ones. It is really hard for me when people throw out the socialization issue of homeschooling. I hate the judgement on that.

Cindy May 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I doubt you have any “issues” that aren’t perfectly understandable! It sounds to me like you’re making sure your kids’ needs are met. Don’t let your own differences in personality make you feel like you’re doing it wrong! Some of my kids are pretty outward, too, so I have to make sure there’s opportunity for them to interact a BUNCH. It’s my job. Doesn’t mean I have to be that way myself! ;-)

Miriam September 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I just took the test. I am INFJ. 100% on the “I.” I have felt called to motherhood since I was a teenager, but I do worry how I will handle the constant demands of raising children when I so desperately need my alone/quiet time to get a grip.

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