How personality type affects homeschooling

Each of us brings our own personality to homeschooling, whether we like it or not. There are sixteen personality types, and each one brings special strengths and weaknesses to the table when homeschooling kids.

For those of you who don't know your personality type, my favorite test is the Type Coach Verifier. I like it because  it teaches you to understand all the personality types while you figure out your own type. After you take this personality test, you will feel pretty confident pegging your kids' personality types as well.

You can read about all sixteen personality types here.

The people who came up with the verifier are Rob and Carly Toomey. I work with them a lot, and I really love their approach to personality type. They are able to take something that is typically arcane and boring and make it easier and more fun.

So I asked them to tell me a bit about how personality type affects homeschooling approaches, and they sent me the following information, along with a photo of their ENTP son flying through the air being his ENTP self.

1. The Extravert Learner (kids who have an E in their score rather than an I)
Homeschooling an introvert is much easier than homeschooling an extravert.  You'll notice after two hours of working alone, your Extravert will begin to wilt.  They get their energy and feel most engaged, inspired and alive, when in a stimulating, active, and social environment.

For homeschool parents it is a constant challenge to make sure their extraverts are getting enough time out of the house having new and exciting experiences and socializing with other kids.  Most of all it is important to ensure they get enough time doing their favorite activity—talking.  Brain scans show that for extraverts, speaking (even if the other person doesn't say a word) is essential for them to do their best thinking and learning, which is why you'll regularly find them talking to themselves.

2. Kinesthetic Learners (kids who have an SP in their score)
The traditional school approach fails one population more than any other—the sensor-perceiver, otherwise known as the kinesthetic learner.  Sitting still all day in one room indoors listening to a teacher lecture feels like punishment to these kids.

It is hard to find an SP adult who doesn't shudder when they recall their traditional school experience.

If you have a kinesthetic learner, first of all, congratulations for seeing that their needs were not going to be met by a traditional school setting.  Second, constantly ask yourself, "How can I make this material real and fun?" Avoid taking a serious, authoritative approach.  It's counterproductive and you'll feel like you're pushing rope. You may find that reverse psychology works well, such as a playful, "There is no way you can finish all that in the next hour!"

They learn best by doing, by using their hands, by being in motion, and through opportunities to respond in the moment.  They crave being outside in nature as much as possible and having variety in every sense of the word, but especially variety in environments.

3. Intuitive Learners (kids who have an N in their score)
Intuitives are the idea people, the daydreamers and "out-of-the-box thinkers". They are most engaged by projects that afford maximum creative license, and a focus on understanding the underlying principles behind theories or formulas, etc.  They love open-ended questions and if they aren't connecting the topic at hand to other concepts and ideas they've already learned, then they won't remember it.

Intuitives are highly intellectually curious and learn best when given a nugget of an idea and then start asking questions.  They want a dialogue of a lecture.  After two or three sentences with a lot of specific factual details, they tune out almost immediately.  Explicit instructions for how to execute a task as if there is one right way to do it?  They shut down and lose all inspiration.  Memorizing facts? Not a strength and they won't retain it for any length of time.  Remember your junior high math teacher who wrote up the formula on the board and then asked you to memorize it and do 25 problems?  He was not an intuitive.

4. Judgers vs. Perceivers (each kid is either a J or a P, and each parent is as well!) 
Judgers crave structure and a plan and prefer to stick with that plan when possible.  They tend to push for closure.  Perceivers tend to enjoy taking things moment by moment and don't wish to be run by the clock or prior plans. They are enjoying the journey and are less focused on the destination.

If you're on the judging side educating a perceiver, it may take all of your energy and fortitude to let your perceiver child do the task on their own time and at their own pace with lots of breaks and a playful, casual attitude.  On the other hand, if you are a Perceiver educating a judger, you will almost surely have to provide far more structure and planning than you would prefer.

One of the best tools I've had as a homeschooling parent was knowing my kids' personality types, and understanding how my own type differs from theirs. I learned a bunch about this topic from reading online, and the TypeCoach site is a good place to start. If you want to really dive deep into personality type to tailor learning life to your kids, Rob and I did a personality type seminar together, and you can get access to the videos, here.

Posted in Individual learning styles
25 comments on “How personality type affects homeschooling
  1. Julie says:

    Thanks! I found this very helpful.

  2. Melissa Barajas says:

    The originator of this personality typing is Meyers Briggs.

    http://www.myersbriggs.org/

    You can get the books from library or online: "Please Understand Me – 1 & 2".

  3. mh says:

    This is a great post. I have an unusual M-B type for a woman, and especially for a stay-home mom, but it gives me an edge on homeschooling the kids. (INTJ)

    Commenter mbl talked about a book last week, or maybe two weeks ago: MotherStyles by Diane Penley and Janet Eble. Good information.

    • Karen says:

      In what way do you find that being an INTJ gives you an edge with homeschooling?

      I also am an INTJ female homeschooling 2 boys, an INTP and an ISTJ. Homeschooling was going really badly when we were doing school at home but now we are unschooling and doing much better. I basically leave my INTP son (age 11) alone to do as he pleases. My ISTJ (age 8) requires a lot more structure to his day but functions well independently within that structure. I find I have lots of time in my day to indulge in my INTJ need for daily solitude. I am very grateful that neither of my kids is an E; I would have a really tough time accommodating that.

      It's strange to find yourself living a life that's different from the life that you expected to have. It's even more strange when you find yourself liking it.

      • mh says:

        Karen,

        I think the edge comes from having enjoyed my high-performing career at a Fortune 50 company in the years before I had children. I made my choice to be a stay-home mom with my eyes wide open and before the children ever materialized, so I don't have regrets.

        Second, and maybe more important, I grew up being different from every other girl I knew. Being popular and fitting in with other girls was simply impossible for me, so I got a head start on just being myself. Thank heavens for my parents, who hated each other but loved me very very much. Perhaps my M-B type set me up to slough off social expectations and traditional ideas about school in favor of homeschool.

        Or maybe I'm just convincing myself. I can be very persuasive.

    • mbl says:

      mh, did you buy MotherStyles?

      I didn't have time to finish it and there is a wait list at the library. If I can find my nook, I'll get it that way. So far, I know for sure that I have all of the "challenges" for my type. But is helpful to see where I struggle with likely "strengths" and that may be a doable place to start improving. I also benefited from seeing my mother's strengths spelled out. And it was really helpful to see where and why (crap marriage) she wasn't able to capitalize on those strengths. I already knew that our mother-child combo was super toxic for the kid and the parent was likely to be oblivious. So it was nice to have her pluses spelled out.

      From the test I referenced below, I think my daughter is an INJ also. Probably a T, but not sure.

  4. lg says:

    Hi — What would you recommend for an introverted mom (needs lots down non social downtime) with an only child who is an extreme extrovert? I am now forty years old and my daughter is almost six. She has been attended PT Waldorf co-ops a few times a week, but we still host play dates weekly, etc and it really wears me out – I find the social element of homeschooling so exhausting mentally and physically. My husband is also an extreme extrovert – so I'm the 'weird one' in our small family. I have ALWAYS dreamt of homeschooling my children, but not sure I can keep up with the social side of this to meet my daughter's needs – especially since she is an only child and it seems as if we will not be having any more children.

    We found a small church school nearby that is a very nurturing and loving environment, but academically it is still a classroom school with limited resources and funds and 'twaddly' books that make me cringe….. A big part of me really is craving a break from all the play dates once she is enrolled and is looking forward to begin exercising again, but another part fears that once she is enrolled in a classroom program, it will be harder to homeschool later on…. any thoughts or comments? My husband is still completely unsupportive of homeschooling (probably b/c he is such an extrovert) so my support group (your blog and a few others and co-ops) is very small as well.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I have a similar problem. My son is an SP and he just wants to run and have fun and games all day long. I'm an NT and my other son and I want to read all day.

      My husband is an SP so I don't ask him to do any help with housework or parenting except to play with my SP son. It's SO MUCH WORK for me to have fun. Fun is not fun for me. Ideas are fun for me. And I'd much rather do housework than play kickball.

      So we have a division of labor in our house by personality type. Maybe you could have your husband take care of all extravert activities in exchange for you doing all the other stuff for the family. Something like that.

      Penelope

    • katie says:

      People need to stop having "play dates". Just go back to dropping kids off at other people's houses without it being a social occasion for the parents, unless they want it.

      What saved me when my boy was 6 — park days. Once again, be social if you want, but often I'd just wander off, read my phone, knit, read books, whatever.

      I like being social, but it does make me tired. Especially with people I don't know very well.

    • Susie says:

      I'm in the same boat. My son spends 2+ hours a day in the neighborhood cul de sac with neighborhood friends – with no hovering parents, just like we did in the 1970s. I am so done with playdates! He also goes to science camps whenever they are offered. I think he'd enjoy the social aspects of a progressive school…but our town has worksheet-driven basic skills instruction, very dull and painful for an extreme E. I might consider Waldorf for middle school, it's the only progressive school in this college town.

  5. curiousreader says:

    THIS: It's SO MUCH WORK for me to have fun. Fun is not fun for me. Ideas are fun for me. And I'd much rather do housework than play kickball."

    Yes. THANK YOU.
    Parties, sports, all manner of "fun" activities are absolutely NOT fun for me. (which makes dating torture, actually). Being an extrovert (ENFP), you would think that odd, but given my secondary function of a strong Fi- i can only take on so much outside stimulus that is not abstract. Siblings often found me anti social growing up, and friends were perplexed that i could be so pleasant in short bursts and then so avoidant and irritable after long stretches of constant contact. I just hope one day i'll be lucky enough to meet another fellow misanthrope that secretly loves people just in REALLY small doses. ;)

    • mbl says:

      This is so interesting to me. I'm wondering what designates you as an extrovert. You sound like a classic introvert to me– as long as you take the criteria to be "recharges by being alone with one's thoughts," rather than "shy wallflower who is a dud and a drag." I can't for the life of me figure out how PT is an extrovert given what I have read both by her and about extroversion (Quiet and The Introvert's Way.) And I read something somewhere where someone referred to a post where she said something about being an introvert and something about a bus. (How's that for an ironclad citation?) I'd love to know more, curiousreader.)

      I think ambiversion seems to be dismissed as a viable designation. I'm pretty sure my 7 year old daughter is one. But not sure how Asperger's plays into it. I think my husband is an extroverted Aspie–but hard to tell since he is overwhelmed by new situations. He avoids parties with new people like the plague, but could hang out all day with his lifelong friends. No matter how much I like the person/people, I can only take so much and then I need to be ALONE. No one believes that I am an introvert once I get going on one of my "topics." :) I can do chitchat, but it exhausts me and I only do it to get to the "meaty" stuff. Unfortunately, I am not that patient and try to dive in too fast and catch some people off-guard. Hello ADD.

      " It's SO MUCH WORK for me to have fun. Fun is not fun for me. Ideas are fun for me. And I'd much rather do housework than play kickball." jumped out and resonated with me also. Although I'm inclined to read or nap rather than housework. . .

      Fortunately, my husband take dd out for adventures on weekend and sometimes after work. I am ever so grateful!!

      My favorite chapter title of The Introvert's Way is something like. "Oh you're an Introvert? I always thought you were just a b!tch."

  6. mbl says:

    It is often hard to find a test for kids. http://www.personalitypage.com/cgi-local/build_pqk.cgi is one that gives a 3 letter result. I think many say T or F is tbd. I think this might work well for a cut and dried kid, but, as I posted before, I think my daughter is an ambivert and being an Aspie affects the situation.

    For example:
    When dealing with other people, does it describe the child better to say that they:
    need approval, and are very upset if someone expresses dissatisfaction with them (situational. likely with best friend and often with close family)
    seek approval, but can function without it (often doesn't seek approval, but if she does, may be upset with response)
    don't care what others think (likely with strangers, even if age peers—to her social detriment)

    And . . . When upset about something, will it help the child more if you:
    help them to logically solve the problem (if I catch it before she melts–often works)
    hug and comfort them (once she is past a certain point she needs comfort, or to be left alone, or a combination—sucks to be me)

    There is a "don't know" option, but if you choose it too much it won't score the test.

  7. Bird says:

    INTJ mom homeschooling ESFP child. Great post. I have had a lot to learn so that we have happy days together.

    My kid got her hair cut today and the stylist asked her if she had brothers or sisters. She said "No, but I have three friends that I'm homeschooled with, and I see them three days a week and sometimes more."

    When I get unhappy about where I am (not) in the work world, I try to think about what it took to set this up and what it takes to maintain it, and I feel – well, if not better, at least pleased in a parallel way.

  8. Karen Loethen says:

    ENFP here…parenting and homeschooling my own way!

  9. Zellie says:

    It's tricky getting past the disabilities to uncover the actual type.

    • Julie says:

      I wonder about that too.

    • mbl says:

      I hear ya!! My daughter is an E with me and an I with most everyone else. Could be Aspie related, or it could just be how she is. (Obviously it IS how she is, Aspie connected or not, but I hope you know what I mean.)

  10. Gina says:

    This is great!! I have 3 very different learners – so I am so interested in seeing how they do with this.

  11. Heather Sanders says:

    I am an ESFJ and my husband is an ISTJ. We have three children. My younger daughter is an ESFJ like me. My youngest (son) is an ISTJ like his father. Our oldest (daughter) is an ENFJ. So really, we've had the biggest learning curve with our oldest daughter, because the other two are obviously familiar enough to us.

    It really is a puzzle (which I like), but also such a boon to be able to understand them more fully so we can meet their needs in every arena more fully.

    At the same time, there are areas I completely crash and burn, but that's primarily due to a desire to control and selfishness (still growing myself, of course).

  12. Karen says:

    Thanks for the link to the Type Coach Verifier. I've done several of the multiple choice versions and mostly come out as an INFP, but I came out as an INTP with this one (although the preference is weak). It actually makes more sense – although I am idealistic, I am not gentle, caring or particularly sensitive to others.

    I am planning to homeschool starting next year with my oldest who is definitely an E and probably a FJ (hard to tell at 4). I think she's going to need more structure than I would naturally give her, (she always wants to know what the plan is each day when she gets up) and contact with other kids most days (besides her little brother, which is effective only to a point).

  13. Gia says:

    You spelt extrovert wrong.