introverts homeschooling extroverts

Posted by & filed under Homeschooling, Oliver.


In nearly seven years of being his mom, it really never occurred to me.

But in only seven days of being his teacher, it was so glaringly obvious, I wondered how I could have been so blind.

When an introvert sets out to homeschool an extrovert – particularly without realizing it would be a “thing” – it’s definitely going to be a thing.

Last week I poured my heart and soul into teaching and talking and listening and reading. I pushed hard work when it was important, brushed it aside in favor of a break when it wasn’t. We did spelling tests, library runs, nature walks, impromptu still life sketching – we even spent the better part of 30 minutes in the “Skylanders” aisle at Target, just figuring it all out.

We spent time. invested. I was tired but satisfied because I knew I’d loved my children well. I poured my cup out for them and that gave me so much joy.


Until one afternoon around 4:00. Hazel had just fallen asleep, our school day was over, daddy would be home in less than 2 hours, and I asked Oliver to find something quiet to do on his own in his room. I needed a little down time. And then he said it:

“Mom, I wish you had more time for me.”

I cannot tell you what a boulder that was to my soul. All poured out, having given everything I could give to teach and train and love – none of it was enough.

I was crushed. Crushed because I knew that I’d given it everything I had. There was no “I can do more and give more – no problem!”. I’d kept him home from school, loved on him from the moment he came downstairs for breakfast, and yet he was very clearly lacking something from me.

Near tears, I texted my dear friend Amanda and she sweetly reminded me, “Be thankful that he will express his heart to you.” And she was right. I didn’t want to discourage him from telling me how he was feeling, but I did want to get to the bottom of why he was feeling it.


I waited until Ryan came home to fully fall apart. He always seems to know how to put things back together for us.

While I made a solo run to the grocery store (isn’t it funny what a glorious luxury a solo, evening run for groceries can be?), the boys talked. Oliver explained to Ryan that what he really meant was that he loved spending time with me so much, he regrets all the time he missed last year by going away for Kindergarten. He said that his words were “I wish I’d had more time with you, Mom”

I honestly don’t know if I heard him wrong the first time, or if he’d changed his story, or what. But I imagine there is a good bit of truth in any of it. And, the bottom line was that my son wants me and loves me and values his time with me. Ryan encouraged me to focus first on that, and less on a meeting of his expectations. (I told you he was a wise one!)


The three of us sat down that evening to talk. To express all of our feelings – to hear and to be heard.

I asked Oliver, “Isn’t it sometimes nice after a busy day to go up to your room and play by yourself for a while? Don’t you feel better if you’ve had a little time to yourself in quiet just to recharge?”

He sat thoughtful for a moment – he really paused to entertained the idea. Then, shaking his head in apology, “No!”

And THAT’S when I realized. Doy! He’s an extrovert! And of course, I know that I’m an introvert. So yes – the enforced “quiet hour” at the end of the day does absolutely nothing to recharge him.


It’s a simple, simple concept. Something I should have seen years ago. But it took being his teacher, and really hearing how he felt, to understand his needs when it comes to his personality.

Now, I wish I could tell you that we have some whiz-bang solution to our little personality discrepancy. We don’t. But we had an awesome conversation about what introvert and extrovert meant, we talked about some of our friend and family and guessed about what they might be. We talked about the different needs of each personality type and we both really saw each other in a new light.

It’s not impossible for an introvert to homeschool an extrovert. It’s probably harder because when I want to stay home and work then rest, he wants to have friends filtering in and out of the house all day long.

We’ll find our happy medium. We’ll pay attention to each other’s needs. We’ll send him to the homes of trusted friends for people-time while I get a little no-people-time. We’ll schedule time for friends to come over to fill up his interaction-loving bucket. He’ll get sweetly refreshed at his tutorials and at soccer practice and when he plays with his sister and me, and I’ll need to start rising before the rooster if I want to get that alone time that my soul needs.

Seven school days was all it took for us to understand each other so much better. I’m grateful for that. And I’m genuinely looking forward to all the other opportunities living life messy and together will afford us to know how to love each other well.

This is so hard but so worth it!


(The mid-afternoon Nutella crepes make it pretty worth it, too!)

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14 Responses

  1. cami 26 August 2013 at 9:04 am

    i so get it. i dont homeschool my kids, but yes, i rely on quiet times to make it through a great day.. and my kids are mostly the opposite! it can definitely be hard. i’m learning as the days go on ;)

  2. megan 26 August 2013 at 9:36 am

    I’m still working on the opposite! My daughter is an introvert and wants to do some of her school by herself in her room and I want us to all hang out during school! So I am letting her go off and have her alone time and have seen some great things come out of it! Example: without the distractions she read the entire beginners bible in a week! Wow! Very humbling to find out you’ve been holding your kid back. It took me three years to figure that out. So glad you figured it out in 7 days! ha!

    • raechelm 26 August 2013 at 9:29 pm

      oh wow, that’s so interesting! I was wondering what the flip side would be like. And yes, I can see how that would be pretty humbling, too!

  3. tammy kay 26 August 2013 at 10:04 am

    Maybe you could make him a few videos or audio’s of you reading to him. He could listen to them during quiet time and feel connected. Just a thought. You can do this.

    • raechelm 26 August 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Tammy Kay, you are always so sweet to cheer me on! Thank you! I wonder if he’d like that – I’ll ask him! xoxo

  4. Alana @ Sparrow + Grace 26 August 2013 at 6:00 pm

    What a gift it is to get to know your son on an entirely different level than you were able to before. I am an introvert homeschooling an extrovert and had a similar incident with my little man. We had done school and chores together all morning and when lunch was over he said, “Mommy, play with me”. Ahhhh! All I wanted to do was lock myself in a room and listen to silence. I did enforce our afternoon “quiet time”, but I’m wondering what else I can do to help meet his needs, while not forgetting my own. It is definitely a balancing act but, like you, I’m thankful to know him like this.

  5. katie 26 August 2013 at 7:38 pm


    And that’s why homeschool park day was invented — It’s nice to go to a lovely park where your child can scream and run around with other loud little kids and a small group of adults that will let you sit there and not say much, or do your knitting, or read a book.

    • raechelm 26 August 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Haha – oh, that’s the worst!

      They’re actually at a new-ish place, I think it’s just called The Coffee House on bridge and 3rd. They have a “thanksgiving crepe” that makes my mouth so happy. If you ever come back to visit, you’ll definitely have to check it out! (also, there’s a play room for kids! come on!)

  6. Katy 27 August 2013 at 12:34 am

    I can relate to the need for alone time. No homeschooling here but we are coming to the end of the holidays and while I have loved every minute of getting to know how much my little girl has changed in one year of school (all the things you miss from 9am-3pm) I am desperate for some ‘me time’. I feel a bit overloaded. Luckily for me and my girl, we are very alike, both introverts and she lets me snatch a few moments while she does something else. I recall a post you did some time ago which always make me feel at peace (I sometimes go back and re-read it!). You had a morning off to do some sewing and it sounded like the sort of space I would need to calm my frazzled soul. I think you called the post ‘Peppermint Mocha’ or something similar.
    Hope you find some time to yourself soon!

  7. Laura Smith 28 August 2013 at 8:49 pm

    What a wonderful, thought-provoking post. I loved every word, and am so encouraged as a fellow homeschooling mama to share your journey. I love that you’re finding the blessings among the challenges. It is hard – and it is worth it!! Up here in the north we don’t start school until after Labor Day – yay!!! We’ve got six more days of summer left so I’m not officially in the trenches yet, but I’ve been so encouraged by your tenacity and determination. You are doing so, so well! I am praying for you, and appreciate you sharing your heart.

  8. Diabra Anderson 4 September 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Ah yes. I hear you. I’m an introvert and a few of my kids (maybe 3 of the 4) are extroverts. We manage it by remembering they are blessed to have each other to interact with and plenty of friends that come through our home. I love soccer practice. My big one goes and is social, I can sit in the car. Alone. Bliss. Also time at the park. I’m with them, but can sit for a while and watch them having a ball and make new friends. When mine were small, I would often put on head phones, listen to music or a podcast and fold laundry. It felt like alone time, but I could still see they were ok. Goodluck in finding your balance :)

  9. Amanda Hendricks 24 November 2014 at 9:11 am

    Was just looking back over older posts that I missed and was excited to see that you are homeschooling the kids! I’m an extrovert homeschooling 4 little extroverts – now in China – and we’re one loud and crazy bunch of learners… Somedays I still need that quiet time at the end of lessons to take some Ibuprofen and relieve my splitting headache. Hoping that teaching your children is going well this year and I still love seeing what you’re up to!
    Much Love –


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