There is no shame in being a shy child, but unfortunately, shyness can often hold kids back from participating in school and making the most of their education.
It is why teachers can play a vital role in helping shy children participate in school and feel comfortable socializing with their peers.
So, how to help a shy child participate in school? One of the best ways to help a shy student is to create a positive and supportive classroom environment. It’s also important to be patient with shy students and never force them to do anything they’re uncomfortable with.
In this guide, I will share some other psychology-approved strategies and activities that thousands of teachers across the country use to help shy children participate in school.
Let’s start with how you can identify a shy student that needs your special attention first.
What are the signs of a shy student?
Many factors can contribute to a student feeling shy or nervous in class. As a teacher, it’s essential to be aware of the signs that a student is feeling shy and to take steps to help that student feel more comfortable.
Avoiding eye contact
A student avoiding eye contact may be a sign of being shy. They may be afraid to meet new people or to engage in conversations.
They are quiet
Shy students may be quiet in class and reluctant to speak up or participate in group activities. They may not participate in the class or conversations that much or be entirely silent. They also prefer to play alone or with just one or two close friends.
They have trouble making friends
Shy students may have trouble making friends. They may be hesitant to approach new people or to join in activities. Because they feel anxious or intimidated by new people or situations
Overly sensitive about others opinions
Shy students may be sensitive to criticism and worry about what others think of them or what will happen. As a result, they may take things personally or be easily hurt by what others say.
How To Get A Shy Child To Participate In Class?
Some students will never speak up, no matter how much you prod them. But just because a student is shy doesn’t mean they don’t have something valuable to say. If only we can find a way to help them feel comfortable speaking up, many of the most introverted students have the most to offer.
Here are some tips on how you can help your shy students speak up in class and participate more:
Never force them to participate
Forcing a shy child to participate in class can make the situation worse. If a child feels like they’re being forced to do something, they’ll likely be even more reluctant to do it.
So instead, try to give them opportunities to participate on their terms. For example, you could allow them to answer a question in a class by raising their hand or give them the option to turn in assignments electronically if they’re not comfortable speaking up in class.
Pair shy children up with a buddy
One of the best ways to help shy children in the classroom is to pair them up with a buddy. Create a “shy student” buddy system. For example, paired up shy students with outgoing students. The outgoing students can help the shy students feel more comfortable in class and allow them to participate in activities.
This way, they’ll always have someone to sit with and won’t feel as isolated or left out. Additionally, having a buddy can help a shy child feel more comfortable participating in activities and speaking up in class.
Another great way to help a shy child in the classroom is to create opportunities for one-on-one interaction. This could be as simple as sitting next to them during circle time or reading together during quiet time. Or, you could assign them as your helper for the day and let them help you with things like passing out materials or setting up the classroom.
Give them a chance to lead
Shy children often feel more uncomfortable when they’re in a position of authority, as this is something that doesn’t come to them naturally. It will give them a chance to lead and can be a great way to help them feel more confident. You could let them be the line leader for the day or have they leaded a short class discussion or activity.
Make a personal connection
Shy children often feel more comfortable when they have a personal connection with their teacher. Get to know your shy students personally and let them know that you care about them. This will make them feel more comfortable approaching you with questions or problems and make them more likely to participate in class.
Always Praise their participation
Shy children often need a little extra encouragement to participate in class. Call on them often, and make sure to praise them when they do speak up. This will help them build confidence and feel more comfortable participating.
Help them build social skills
Shy children often need help when it comes to social skills. Model appropriate social behavior in class, and provide opportunities for shy students to practice their social skills. For example, you could have them work in small groups on assignments, or you could have them lead a class discussion one day.
Give them time to think
Some students take longer to warm up to speaking in front of others, and that’s okay. However, don’t pressure shy students by making them answer questions when they’re not ready.
When you ask a question in class, don’t immediately call on someone you know who is already a bit shy. Instead, give that particular student a few moments to think about the answer. This will help the shy students feel less pressure to speak up right away and give them time to formulate a thoughtful response.
Make it a safe environment
No one wants to speak up if they think they will be ridiculed or made fun of. So it’s important to create a safe and supportive environment in your classroom where everyone feels free to express themselves.
Encourage group work
Shy students may feel more comfortable speaking up if they work in small groups rather than in front of the whole class. So consider assigning group work whenever possible.
Let them open up in other ways
If a shy student isn’t ready to speak up in class, there are other ways they can contribute. For example, they can raise their hand to offer written answers to questions, or they can participate in class discussions by typing in the chat box.
Call on them often once they are ready
Once the shy student feels comfortable, make sure to call on them often but not too much, so that they revert to themselves. This will help them overcome their nerves and become more comfortable speaking in front of others.
Classroom Activities For A Shy Child
Shyness is not something that goes away overnight. Therefore, it’s essential to be patient with shy children and understand that they might need extra time to adjust to new situations. With time and patience, shy children can learn to participate in school and build confidence.
With that in mind, here are a few of the best classroom activities for shy children. Implementing these activities in your classroom will create a more supportive and inclusive environment for all students – shy or not.
These can be fun and help shy students feel more connected to their classmates. For example, try a “human knot” where everyone has to work together to untangle themselves, or a “trust fall” where people have to catch each other.
Getting to know your games
Games like “two truths and a lie” or “would you rather” can be fun icebreakers that help everyone in the class get to know each other better, including shy students.
Teamwork can be an excellent way for shy students to get to know their classmates better. Assign group projects that allow them to work together and get to know each other better.
Have students give presentations on things they’re passionate about. This can help shy students break out of their shells and share their interests with the class.
Related: What Type of Problem Solving Activities Teachers Can Choose In Kindergarten?
Understanding The Difference between Shy Kids And Introvert Kids
There’s a big difference between being shy and being introverted.
Shyness is a form of social anxiety. It’s the fear of being judged or rejected by others and feeling uncomfortable in social situations.
Introversion, on the other hand, is a personality trait. It’s not fear or anxiety. It simply means that you’re more interested in your thoughts and the inner world than the outer world.
So why does this matter?
As a teacher, you often have to deal with shy and introverted students. And it’s essential to understand the difference to better support your students.
Shy students may need extra encouragement to participate in class. They may need reassurance that it’s okay to make mistakes. And they may need help in developing social skills.
Introverted students, on the other hand, aren’t necessarily shy. They may prefer to work on their own or in small groups.
Shyness can be a barrier to learning. If a child is too shy to participate in class, they may miss important information and learning opportunities. So it’s essential to help and be patient with shy children as a teacher. They may need some time to warm up to new situations and people. But with a bit of patience and understanding and the correct implementation of tips and strategies shared here to help a shy child participate in school, most shy children will eventually come out of their shells and participate in school.