Following my eldest child’s recent school report I have been left wondering if quiet/shy children are disadvantaged within the classroom.
Every year I attend parents evenings and receive reports where positive comments may be: ‘tries hard’, ‘excellent behaviour’, ‘listens well’ but ‘quiet’ or ‘reluctant to speak out’ are negative comments. My daughter like many others is naturally quiet, timid and sensitive and though during the school year she starts to speak out a little more in class I know that she will never want to be the centre of attention or become outspoken.
Having taught myself for several years I know that it can be difficult to attain how much a child knows or understands when they don’t frequently volunteer answers or fully engage in whole class discussions. It is much easier to know the level that ‘Jimmy’ is at when always speaks out and answers questions. However being quiet or shy is part of a child’s personality, it is just the way they are and I believe we shouldn’t try to change them.
We need to view quietness or shyness as part of their learning style, the same as we would if a child was a visual or kinaesthetic learner. My child’s progress in one subject was said to be limited due to the fact that though she would ask questions during hot seating, she would never volunteer to sit in the hot seat herself. Knowing my child, I am certain that she will never feel comfortable in that position but that does not mean she does not understand the role, actions or feelings of a particular person. Surely it is a teacher’s responsibility to find a different way to explore a quiet child’s knowledge and understanding other than hot seating. As educators we are constantly striving to meet the individual needs of our pupils and we need to use a variety of teaching methods and activities which suit children of all abilities and personalities.
Perhaps these feelings are just those of a mother who is protective of her own child or do other parents and educators feel that quiet and shy children can be disadvantaged?