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.