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I hope that this site will help you to access helpful information about children: how they learn, how they develop, things you can do to optimize their development, and have a fabulous time doing it!

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Understanding Your Child: Introverts and Extroverts

This post originally appeared on the blog for Studio 3 Music in Seattle, WA.
Did you know that your child will learn best when his brain is happy? Each person has a unique brain that functions most effectively under specific circumstances. Julie Anderson’s book [The Introvert Advantage] explains that the brain has learning preferences.
Some brains prefer to take in information through the eyes (visual learners), some through the ears (auditory learners), others through the senses (kinesthetic learners). Extroversion and Introversion, according to Julie Anderson, is not about whether a child is outgoing or not. These terms describe how much stimulation a child’s brain needs for optimal brain function.
Does the child’s brain needs a lot (extroversion) or a little (introversion) stimulation in order to be happiest? An extroverted child is described as having a “sleepy brain.” This child requires outside stimulation to keep synapses firing. He or she will seek out such stimulation, often by gravitating toward social situations. People cause a lot of stimulating sounds, sights and action! An extroverted child need not be the life of the party. But the extroverted child chooses to be at the party and gains energy from it. Also, extroverts may gravitate towards higher risk sports than introverts because of the stimulation of competition and/or team play. Extroverted babies often take shorter naps. They want to be held, played with and entertained.
An introverted child has a brain that is naturally self-stimulating. Their brains are active so introverts can be overwhelmed with too much external stimuli. They may have less tolerance for, or even avoid, places with a lot of noise, people or activity. Introverts often prefer to work or play in quiet places. They may choose more low stimulation competitive activities like chess, versus football. Introverted babies don’t like to be held a lot. They prefer quieter home life. When exposed to noisy places for too long, they become more agitated.
Julie explains that on a scale with extreme extroversion on one end and extreme introversion on the other, the extreme extrovert would like to be stimulated 12-14 hours of his or her awake time. The extreme introvert, on the other hand, would naturally be happy to be alone 12-14 hours of the same day. The child who is equally extroverted and introverted, called an ambivert, is one whose brain is happiest with equal amounts of alone time and stimulation time.
Julie’s book helped me understand the brain science of extroversion and introversion. My brain happens to be a sleepy one. Now I know why my favorite study spot was not the library, but the cafeteria! And in this phase of life, the busy coffee shop is my favorite, productive work space.
My husband, on the other hand, has a self-stimulating brain. His favorite study spot in college was the quietest place he could find. Now I understand why he loves to spend hours outside in the quiet of nature. The peaceful environment allows his fertile brain, whose synapses are constantly firing with his own thinking, to be the most productive and happy. Many artists, writers and other creative people, including my husband, are introverts.

Special thanks to Studio 3 Music for allowing us to share this great post from the Studio 3 Music blog. Studio 3 Music in Seattle, Washington, the world’s largest Kindermusik program.

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