4 Letters that Could Impact Your Homeschooling

2017-09-16T09:27:37+00:00 Categories: Ideas|1 Comment

Is Scheduling a Struggle?

Whether you’re a planner or a master of go with the flow, if you and your learners differ in your preferences, you may find yourself struggling. Likewise, if you create meaning, make decisions, or respond to stimulation differently than your learners, you may find yourself at odds with each other. While you’re pushing or pulling, your learner seems to be doing just the opposite.

Here’s the deal, even though I was trained to identify and create solutions that met the diverse needs of individual team members, this sort of thing happened to us when we began homeschooling. For a moment…er, weeks.., I sort of forgot my training and that my son and I are different people. As a result, I expected him to take in information, make decisions, and love structure as much as me.

He doesn’t.

Predictably, he struggled which left me bewildered—until I remembered my training and various ways to identify how our preferences diverge and overlap.

But, let me back up a bit in this story.

Fortune 500 Approach

When I first became an engineer, I was introduced to the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality test (and, later, a handful of other tests). Besides being an interesting exploration into our personalities, these tests always ushered our team into lively conversations—conversations where I realized the impacts of our individual preferences for things like decision making. According to Fortune Magazine, roughly 80% of Fortune 500 companies rely on the MBTI to build strong teams and healthy organizations.

For example, language and priorities differs substantially for those making logic-driven decisions and others making emotionally-driven decisions. This is important if you are an engineer trying to lead change across an organization with multiple decision-making managers. Needless to say, I developed an appreciation for personality tests, the conversations that followed, and the insights I gained as I learned more about our differing preferences.

The Test(s) You’ll Want to Take

Since then, we’ve included 16Personalities (a Myers-Briggs based test) and The Big Five into our DIY education process. The results lead to really great conversations and a learning opportunity. Through our discussions, we’ve coached Duncan to:

  1. Adopt a learner’s (or an explorer’s) mindset to keep himself from self-judging or judging us about our differences.
  2. Regard the result as less important than the question: “What does this look like or feel like for you (or me)?”
  3. Read the profile and determine if the profile matches with who he believes himself to be—at least, who he is within the small framework of preferences analyzed by the MBTI.
  4. See himself beyond the limits of the test results, too, and remember that the test is about preferences—not static skills or abilities.

Then, we talk about how our differences impact each other. And this was when the insight happened. Our results (e.g., INTJ, ISTP, INFP) are just launching points. The conversation is where the magic happens.

How Our Results Play Out

The differences and similarities in our preferences impacts us in a variety of ways:

  • Our response to stimuli: All of us are introverted, so our inclination is to set up or seek out a low stimulus study space. However, learning and retention are positively impacted by contextual variety. So, our overriding inclination for low stimulation is a red flag of sorts. In other words, we need to be aware of our inclination and strive for an equilibrium within the learning environment by creating a stimulating context on occasion.
  • Sense making: Present-moment observations tend to inform my husband as he makes sense of the world while Duncan and I intuit and attribute meaning based upon experience, pattern, or insight. Therefore, to help my son and I stay grounded and to keep Erik in the loop, we include documentation/logging observations as a part of our DIY educational practices. (Also, this practice is an essential element of our improvement processes.)
  • Decision making: Though Erik and I make logic-based decisions, our son is guided by emotion. And, since a DIY education—especially, a self-directed DIY education—hinges on decisions, it’s important that we talk through decisions from multiple perspectives.
  • Organization/structure: Both Duncan and Erik are good at and prefer to improvise, while I prefer to have a roadmap and a bit of structure around actions. As a result, I’ve developed flexible structures for our homeschool and manage by intention (rather than schedule), creating a learning system that blends our diverse preferences.

An Idea to Try

If you find yourself struggling to align on decision making approaches, schedule, or how you make sense of the world, I’d recommend personality profiling via 16Personalities or The Big Five and Mother Styles by Janet P. Penley to help you understand and manage differences and overlaps.

Who knows, those four letters—INTJ, ESFP, etc.—might just impact your homeschooling in a positive way!

In the Comments Below…

Please share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences with personality profiling. Have you found profiling helpful within the context of your family?

Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and sharing!

Wishing you many good things,

– Liz



  • Kerri

    LOVE the MBTI as a way to understand the different ways we all tick, tick, tick. I think it’s also helpful for getting kids to have that growth mindset. You’ve inspired me to do some Meyers-Briggs work with my own kids. Thanks!