"A small breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room, I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase: I soon possessed myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat cross-legged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. .. with (the book) on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way. I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The breakfast-room door opened."The quote above from Jane Eyre eloquently describes the interior life of an introverted child. ... the richness of creativity and the necessity of times for solitude, especially in unfriendly surroundings.
Gordon Neufeld talks about emergent, adaptive and integrative facets in the learning process of children. Simply put, emergent behavior is the kind that drives kids to master their enviroment, that loves to explore and self-challenge. Adaptive behavior helps the child learn from mistakes and adapt future behavior. Integrative behavior helps the child experience inner conflict and strive to make sense of it and act with self-control.
I would guess from my own limited sample of 7 children (and 2 parents) that most children are stronger in one of these areas than another. In the adaptive area, I'd guess that introverted children are often too much affected by mistakes and correction, to the point where they can't learn from them very well. Their emergent behavior is channelled into narrow, deep areas of focus rather than a broad superficial spectrum, so they don't have a strong motivation to overcome their fear of making mistakes and failing. Their integrative challenge may simply be letting conflict in and admitting it is there. They can generally act with self-control because of their strong interior selves and their disinclination to challenge the exterior environment unless it directly conflicts with their principles and their understanding of how the world is set up.
Introverted people tend to choose a few areas of interest or skills and REALLY focus in depth. Once they have an entry point into the subject and the motivation to pursue it, the main challenge is to pull them away from it.
Neufeld mentions one more "learning" behavior. Attached behavior is the baby duck kind; it's relationship-based. You can always learn a lot more from someone you like and respect and want to imitate than from someone who is irrelevant or despised. It is both the most fundamental form of learning behavior, and the "lowest" in that the learning takes place not for the sake of learning so much as for the sake of connection with the other person. A toddler will do what he sees his family do. A peer-attached child will imitate his peers and their behavior and outlook.
Introverted people, from my limited sample, forge relationships that are deep, loyal, enduring AND at the same time rather undemonstrative and lowkey on the surface. If they are attached to their parents and siblings, they will tend to love the things that these relatives love. But a new teacher will have to "earn" their loyalty and teachability and it's harder for them to accept new people into their intimacy circle. Introverts are often at least as warm-hearted and emotional as extroverts, but their caution and restraint can make them look cold and passive and even unlikeable to people who don't know them very well. Again, Jane Eyre:
I know that had I been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping child -- though equally dependent and friendless -- Mrs. Reed would have endured my presence more complacently; her children would have entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the servants would have been less prone to make me the scapegoat of the nursery.This, and indeed the whole first chapter of the book, is a classic example of the introvert who is misunderstood by the extroverts around her.
It is probably useful for introverts to learn some extroverting "skills" in order to make their passage through life easier both for themselves and for those around them. As my children get older, they are more able to listen to and learn from people that they don't know very well, but they still seem to need to have a basic sympathy and attunement to the new teacher or comrade.
A related trait is that introverts are capable of externally "toeing the line" and acting compliant while preserving their internal resistance and independence of mind. For this reason, the secret heart and spirit of the introvert is very important. Their outward behavior doesn't always echo what's going on inside. On the other hand, given loyalty or internal motivation, they will make great sacrifices and spare no effort. It is both challenging and rewarding to positively encounter the heart and mind and spirit of an introverted child.
I think introverts have some defenses against excessive peer attachment leading to extreme "acting out" misbehavior, because they don't enjoy "herds" and their outlook on life is internally directed. But on the other hand, introverts are often vulnerable to their peers' view of them because they are sensitive to the feeling of being "different" and because introverts are generally easily discouraged. They are idealistic, and injustice hurts and offends them deeply..... which leads to anger turned either on themselves or on others. You often hear stories of the "nerd" or "misfit" in school who goes on to succeed in life, but is deeply affected emotionally by rejection and misunderstanding in his school years. Nowadays, there seems to be as many stories of introverted "victims", mostly all males, who end up in an extreme, destructive mode.
Also, as I was discussing with my teenagers the other day, the typical school is set up for extroverts. Changing subjects every 45 minutes; crowds of people coming and going; even bright and colorful posters and display centers: all these are over-stimulating, distracting and energy-draining for many introverts. I still get dizzy and overwhelmed by a school cafeteria even though I am a 17-year veteran of the school system.
In the homeschool, introverts seem to need a balance of some extrinsic challenges and expectations (to keep them from living in TOO internal and withdrawn a mode) along with plenty of down-time and time to pursue independent interests in depth.