Believing that the individuality of parents is a great possession for their children…
That brief thought is so encouraging for me, because I often feel like my personality is more of a detriment than a benefit when it comes to parenting and homeschooling. I am not organized, not energetic, certainly not a social butterfly. But maybe my kids just need me to be me. After all, God put us together and He knows what He’s doing. 🙂
I’m not sure exactly when I found out my personality type – it’s been a few years – but it has helped me to understand myself better, both strengths and weaknesses. Of course even those who share the same four-letter type are still very different from each other, so not everything I describe below will apply to every other INFP. But it’s been a good exercise for me to think through the ramifications of my personality type as it relates to homeschooling my children.
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1. I have a very meaningful job. An INFP wants work that furthers their ideals and helps others develop their potential, and homeschooling enables me to do both. Being convinced that education should be a life-long pursuit and that parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s education, what could be more reasonable than to see the home as the natural environment in which to pursue that education? And not being at the mercy of an imposed school schedule frees me to arrange our days so that my children have the time and space to develop their skills and interests.
2. But I’m an introvert. In fact, according to one of the online tests I took, I’m 98% introverted. That would probably explain why I fell asleep on the bus as a young child after a long day at school – people wear me out! That is just one of the reasons I’m grateful my parents homeschooled me from second grade on. But as a homeschool mom, I’m around my kids all day, and I can’t just hide myself in the bedroom whenever I feel the need, at least not at this point. Things tend to degenerate when I’m in the bathroom for five minutes! Establishing the routine of an afternoon quiet time, where each child spends time alone in their own space, has been a great blessing for me; but even so, homeschooling is a decidedly draining job.
3. Ideas are exciting! As I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve read many of my posts, I love reading educational philosophy, novels and epic poetry, history, and theological books. My Extroverted Intuition wants it all, and I really can’t have too many books going at once, although I might be discouraged by the lack of time and energy to read them all. 😉 This means that I don’t find it confusing or overwhelming to have three kids in three different AmblesideOnline years and two different time periods (I know it is a problem for some moms – which is why knowing yourself is important!).
4. Details are overwhelming. Record-keeping, checking and correcting work, planning meals (instead of winging it), and keeping the house clean and organized are some of the areas that I struggle with. I’m pretty sure I’m also a highly sensitive person as well, so bright lights, clutter, and lots of noise (the latter being a given when you have four boys) makes me want to crawl in a hole somewhere. Mystie’s homemaking advice has been helpful, but I am still very much a work in progress on that front.
5. Math is not my strong point. Neither is science – thankfully I have a scientifically-minded husband who helps out. Although I’m sure there are some INFPs who excel at math and science, I think we tend more towards the humanities. It’s good to recognize the areas one struggles with and seek out curriculum or outside classes that will give lots of aid for those subjects. I have to accept that I just can’t do it all!
6. I need a flexible framework for our homeschool. I admit I bristled a bit when I read Mystie’s assertion that an INFP needs outside accountablilty. After all, we INFPs can be pretty determined – and downright stubborn – when we feel strongly about something. Not to mention fiercely independent! But then I remembered that year or so between Sonlight (which I started out with) and AmblesideOnline, when I got overwhelmed trying to plan everything myself (those pesky details again). I do need some accountability in the form of a pre-made booklist and/or schedule which is also flexible enough to be changed up according to our needs and whims.
7. Balance is key to my sanity. That strong Introverted Feeling can keep me focused and on track, but I can become self-absorbed and even hermit-like if I don’t make an effort to seek out new ideas or just get out of the house. On the other hand, any kind of comparison or competition with others, even if it’s all in my head, can be confusing and discouraging for me. Sometimes I need to step back from social media and such and remember that our family and homeschool is unique and will look different from others, and that is how it should be.
Mystie Winkler has a new Practical Personality Portfolio that will help you determine not only your own personality type, but those of your children as well. This can really help in those areas where you seem to inexplicably butt heads with your kids! Her simple profile pages for each type helped me clarify the probable types of my two oldest boys when I had been previously unsure. You can get 20% off the Practical Personality Portfolio by using the code littledrops at the checkout! 🙂