Choosing a school for an extroverted child
Exploring an extroverted child's school fit
Kids vary widely in their sociability: while some are extroverted or outgoing, others aren’t. Don’t underestimate the importance of your child’s social tendencies on school choice: they can play a big role in finding the right fit.
Extroverted kids are outgoing. They’re more social and talkative, and enjoy interacting with their peers (and sometimes teachers) in class.
Below, we identify key points you should reflect on when considering 10 different school types for your extroverted child. Note: our aim isn’t to tell you whether a school type is right or wrong for you, but to highlight some critical factors you should consider when making your decision.
To learn about how to choose the right school in general, read the Our Kids’ step-by-step advice guide and our expert tips. To get school-choice advice customized to your child's unique traits, create a child profile through your user account and read our seven ways to choose a school based on your child's needs (i.e., overall fit, more academic challenge, social struggles, academic struggles, intensive learning interests, university preparation, and special needs.).
Extroverted kids’ fit in 10 school types
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Small school (150 students or less)
If you’re considering a small school for your extroverted child, make sure it offers plenty of social opportunities, including the ability to seek out and interact with different peer groups. Since smaller schools have smaller and less diverse student populations than big schools, it can sometimes be more challenging for your child to find a like-minded group of friends—friends with similar interests, values, etc.
“It’s important to look at the social makeup of the school,” says Ruth Rumack of Ruth Rumack's Learning Space. "Is there enough variety that your child will have a group that they feel connected with? Because you want to have friends that are like-minded and you want to be in a social situation where you feel honoured and respected. Variety can also be found in extracurriculars, leadership programs, and sports activities, which tend to have kids with a wide range of personalities.”
Also, make sure a school’s teaching and learning approach is suitable for your social child. “For instance, a school focusing on individual learning instead of group learning may not play into your child’s strengths,” say Ann and Karen Wolff, Toronto-based education consultants at Wolff Educational Services. “You want to make sure the social, emotional, and academic realities of the classroom are a match for your child’s personality.”
Big school (151+ students)
Most big schools provide your extroverted child with plenty of social opportunities and the ability to interact with different peer groups with a wide range of personalities, interests, values, etc. A larger student population and more extracurriculars—including activities like team sports, arts programs, and debate—will give them a broader scope of opportunities to participate in events that scratch their interpersonal itch. “This may also give them the opportunity to hone certain skills,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. “For instance, they might run for student council to develop leadership and public speaking skills and learn to be a voice for other students.”
By going to school with boys and girls, your child will enjoy a wider range of social experiences, which can be stimulating and rewarding for an extrovert. Many outgoing kids value the opportunity to learn from the different perspectives of boys and girls. “Coeducational schools give kids a safe space to develop the social skills necessary for life in university and beyond," says Una Malcolm, Director of Bright Light Learners. “Allowing students to navigate boy-girl interactions may give them an opportunity to develop these skills in a lower-stakes atmosphere, before they enter university and the workplace.”
Of course, coed schools require your child to negotiate the complexities of boy-girl interactions, which is challenging for any child (whether extroverted or introverted), and can sometimes lead to distraction, inhibition, and other types of social issues. To help ensure a coed school is the right fit for your child, ask what kinds of social support systems they have in place: e.g., guidance counsellors, psychologists, faculty advisors, etc.
In a girls-only school, your extroverted daughter can interact with different peer groups free from the distractions of a boy-girl environment. She’ll be able to focus on finding like-minded peers and pursuing a wide range of social opportunities without the intense pressure of having to navigate relationships with the other gender. This can help her engage with her studies and potentially thrive socially.
Of course, since your daughter won’t be learning with boys, aim to give her many opportunities to interact with them outside of school, so she can gain a wider scope of social experiences, where she’ll learn from the perspectives of girls and boys.
In a boys-only school, your extroverted son can seek out and interact with different peer groups free from the complexities of boy-girl interactions. He’ll find it easier to focus on finding like-minded friends and pursuing a wide range of social opportunities without the intense pressure and distraction associated with interacting and navigating relationships with the other gender. Of course, he won’t receive quite as broad a scope of social experiences as he would in a coed environment, which can help prepare him for what he’ll encounter outside of school.
Many boys' schools have a special focus on group and experiential learning, which your outgoing son may find engaging and stimulating. Since schools vary in their pedagogical approaches, ensure you ask about this.
Of course, since your son won’t be learning with girls, aim to give him many opportunities to interact with them outside of school, so he can gain a wider scope of social experiences, where he'll learn from the perspective of boys and girls.
If you’re considering a Montessori school for your extroverted child, make sure to look into the amount of unstructured social time it provides. Some Montessori schools don’t have recess, and may limit free time, which is often when kids get their most stimulation. While kids spend plenty of time interacting in a Montessori classroom, a very outgoing child might find the lack of unstructured time less invigorating. Note: The more “orthodox” the Montessori environment, the more it tends to limit recess and unstructured social time.
Reggio Emilia school
Through extensive group work, projects, and activities, Reggio Emilia schools provide the kind of social and collaborative learning environment many extroverts crave. Since it’s believed children learn well through social interaction, they’re given plenty of time to interact, listen to each other, ask and answer questions, and work on their communication skills. This can nurture their curiosity and imagination, improve their social skills, and enable them to form close and fulfilling friendships. While most Reggio Emilia schools also give kids quite a bit of unstructured social time, make sure you ask about this.
Language immersion school
If you’re considering a language immersion school for your extroverted child, make sure it offers a wide range of social opportunities, including the ability to interact with kids outside of class. Since most of your child’s learning won’t be in their mother tongue, they may find it challenging at times to negotiate the complexities of social interaction in the classroom. This makes it especially important to ensure the school offers extensive extracurriculars—such as volunteering, sports teams, and arts programs—which will help your child satisfy their need to interact and make friends.
International Baccalaureate school
Throughout the continuum—from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to the Diploma Programme (DP)—the IB offers plenty of group work, projects, and activities, which can be great for extroverts who often enjoy social and collaborative learning. Also, “Since IB schools have a strong emphasis on community service and activism, your child will have great opportunities to harness their outgoing and collaborative personality,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. These schools will also give your child the chance to interact and spend time with a bright, motivated, and ambitious group of kids who may have interests similar to them.
However, given the challenging curriculum and heavy workload of the IB, it can sometimes leave less time for socializing. This makes it especially important to ask about social opportunities at the school, including the ability to interact with different peer groups, both in class and out.
At a boarding school, your extroverted child will likely enjoy seeking out and interacting with peer groups from different backgrounds, away from home. In fact, studying and living with other kids for an extended period of time, as many alumni tell us, provides the unique opportunity to form close relationships that can last well beyond the school years. Many boarding schools also have large student populations and more extracurriculars—including activities like student council, team sports, and arts programs—which will give your outgoing child a broader scope of opportunities to feed off the energy of others, and possibly even become a leader, in a dynamic environment.
Keep in mind, though, “Being an extrovert can be a catalyst for getting involved in lots of activities, which can sometimes be hard to manage,” says Joanne Foster, Toronto-based education consultant and author of ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids. “For instance, a particularly extroverted child may try to end up juggling too many people and activities. While they still may thrive at a boarding school, it helps to know your child and how much social interaction they can handle comfortably.”
Extroverted kids’ school fit: key take-homes
- Schools with larger student populations provide extroverted kids with plenty of social opportunities and the ability to interact with a wide range of peer groups in class and out. Since smaller schools are less diverse, ensure they provide plenty of opportunities for your child to find a like-minded group of peers and scratch their interpersonal itch (for instance, through extracurriculars).
- Many extroverts enjoy the wider scope of social experiences coed schools offer, where they can learn from the perspectives of girls and boys. Single-gender schools, meanwhile, allow your child to build their social network in a less intense environment, free of the complexities of boy-girl relations.
- If you’re considering a Montessori school for your extroverted child, make sure to look into the amount of unstructured social time it provides. Some Montessori schools don’t have recess, and may limit free time, which is often when kids get their most social stimulation.
- Since International Baccalaureate schools have a demanding and time-consuming workload, ask about social opportunities at any prospective school, including the ability to interact with different peer groups, in class and out.
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