Homeschooling the Extrovert, Part Two
It may seem like an extra bit of a challenge to homeschool your social butterfly, but as we considered yesterday, it’s not too big of a challenge. You can do it!
Yes, your social butterfly will like to have many friends, and many things to go do with those friends. But as we discussed yesterday, it’s not essential that kids are with their friends all the time, or that they are going and doing things all the time. You can make sure they get their needs met, but one of those needs is also knowing how to have down time.
Real Friendships Matter
Another need is developing real, deep, friendships. Your extrovert may not believe you right now if you tell them that “it’s not how many friends you have, but how good the friends you have are that matters.” But we know this is true. (Your introverted children will probably pick up on this sooner and quicker, but that’s another topic for another post.)
Here are some things I have learned along the way that have helped all three of my kids develop close friendships, or deal with time between seeing their friends, for my introverts and extroverts both.
Close friendships are built in one-on-one or maybe one-on-two time.
Time spent together on field trips, at parties, and doing other activities totally counts as “social time” and “friend time.” But to break through the wall between friends and GOOD friends, you need small groups and plenty of time to talk and share and get to know one another.
Make an effort to invite friends over one at a time, two at the most, and give your kids time to really develop those friendships. Otherwise, they will begin to feel like they have lots of friends but aren’t really connected to any of them closely.
Make some extra effort with those public school friends who have different schedules than ours. It’s harder to get together with them, but good friendships await there, too.
When my girls started hitting the tween years we started letting them text their friends. When they hit Facebook age, we let them get Facebook to keep up with some friends (with provisions–that’s a topic for another post.)
A few years back when they started getting tablets or smart phones, we started letting them use other texting/chatting apps to keep up with friends who had neither phones nor Facebook but had tablets. Lately, my oldest has been using FaceTime to keep up with a couple friends.
We have so much technology at our fingertips–USE IT! This doesn’t replace time spent together in person but it allows the friendship to continue to grow between time spent together.
What we have learned though is that each friend has different preferences. Some are rarely on Facebook, some don’t like to text– just like grownups have their preferences. So encourage your kids to meet their friends’ needs by using their preferred methods of communicating.
Go “old school” — Call them!
I feel like perhaps calling people on the phone has gone out of fashion, but my little extrovert LOVES to call and chat with her other extrovert friends. Go for it!
There may be some things you need to work out in advance but do it. My daughter has one friend who can talk on the home phone but not her cell phone, and she has a couple of other friends who don’t have their own phone yet or a home phone, but can talk on the mom’s phone for a little while. Work it out with the other mom and find out if there are any phone time limits (after X time, and before Y time,) or other preferences of home phones vs. cell phones, and set up some guidelines.
Can extroverts make enough friends this way?
The proof is in the pudding. My extrovert just turned 13 and invited 15 friends to a mystery dinner party. Two of them were ill and unable to come, all the others came and had a blast. My slightly extroverted introvert just turned 16, and she too had a huge party for family and friends to celebrate. With several people who couldn’t make it due to conflicts, we still had 40-50 people and somewhere between 12-15 friends who came. And these friendships aren’t one-sided or just for special occasions. They aren’t all homeschoolers, either. Homeschooling doesn’t mean “lonely” or “friendless” unless there are other reasons that contribute.
My kids are blessed with lots of friends, and a good handful of besties. We don’t see some of them nearly as often as we would like, but we try to make sure we see them as often as we can with some intentional planning.
“But what if I’m an introvert and I don’t want to go out and be with people too much?”
Hopefully by now you have figured out that you don’t have to go and go and go to meet your little extrovert’s needs. Some tips for the introverted mom that will help you stay sane:
- When you don’t feel like going anywhere, offer to let a friend come over. The extroverts will run off and entertain each other, and you will get some space. =)
- Or take turns, drop your child at a friend’s house for the afternoon, and have some quiet time at your house.
- When coming over isn’t an option, arrange for a phone call or some Face Time.
- When your extrovert wants to spend time with YOU and talk with YOU – compromise. Ask for 15 minutes of quiet time before playing a board game, or, listen to them and let them share their words with you for a little bit before taking some time for yourself.
- Pair bored extrovert children with a sibling and give them a fun task.
- Teach bored extrovert children to manage down time by helping them find a past time they enjoy: painting, crochet, nifty knitting, reading, legos, writing, music? Offer to do something together after they’ve spent some time working on a project alone.
Introvert moms: your turn! Anything else you would add?
Understanding what your extroverted child needs will be a huge benefit to your parent/child relationship. But remember this: the best thing you can give them isn’t more activities, or more friends, it’s a better relationship with YOU!
So what about you–do you have experience homeschooling a big, beautiful, social butterfly? Or maybe you grew up as one yourself? What other insights would you have to offer for those who might be on the fence about meeting their extroverts needs while homeschooling?