One of the most intimidating tasks for quiet children in the classroom can be participation. From elementary school to college, students are encouraged to speak up and share their questions and opinions in large group discussions. However, for various reasons, not all students feel as comfortable divulging their thoughts. A middle schooler with social anxiety may hesitate to speak in front of her peers. A college student with dyslexia may feel uncomfortable reading aloud. A student targeted by bullies may not want to bring attention to himself. As educators, parents, and adults, how can we advocate and encourage children to share their voices? Here are three suggestions for helping students step into the discussion:
- Practice at home or in a lower-stakes environment: Sometimes the classroom, filled with opinionated and boisterous students, can be an intimidating space. Try an environment where the student can settle down and feel relaxed.
- Be a model for your student:Modeling uncertainty by asking questions about things you don’t understand communicates to your student that it’s normal and healthy for people not to have all the answers. Consider walking your student through your thought process as you try to problem solve.
- Ask students questions about something they feel confident in: Whether it’s their favorite television show or video game, ask your students to explain something they’re passionate about. It’s typically easier for students to open up and speak uninhibitedly when they are interested and excited to answer questions.
In every classroom, there are a diversity of learning styles and personalities. Some students may be more introverted than others and it’s vital that they know more reserved personalities shouldn’t be punished. However, when they do want to assert their opinions, educators and families may be able to help prepare them to join the conversation.
By The Tailored Tutoring Writing Team