You may have noticed that you usually have one shy student in your class, a student who almost never speaks up or participates in activities. This may be a new student or a child who doesn’t like to speak in public for fear of being embarrassed or a variety of other reasons.
As a teacher, you want all of your students to feel comfortable enough to participate and have fun in class. To help your shy student open up, check out the activities and ideas below. They may just encourage your shy student to use their voice!
1. Create Show-and-Tell Crafts
Show-and-tell is a great way for students to socialize. Try the traditional show-and-tell: Ask your students to choose something that is important to them and bring it in to show to the class. Or give show-and-tell a twist! Ask your students to design a plate or a bowl with something that is significant to them. When the shy student shows their design to their classmates, they’ll feel proud of what they accomplished, and they’ll love talking about what’s special to them.
2. Host Story Time
One way to both foster a child’s imagination and help them socially is with storytelling. Have your class write a story (true or fictional) in a notebook or on a computer. Doing it on a computer also provides good typing practice! Have the students read or tell their stories to the rest of the class. Your shy student will be able to stretch their imagination to its limits and will open up more because of it!
3. Open an Art Exhibit
If the shy student in your class doesn’t feel comfortable speaking in front of their peers, provide a different option that feels safer, like speaking with their parents. Invite each student’s parents to an “art gallery” opening in your classroom. Ask your students to draw something, perhaps pertaining to a recent lesson, and then hang it up in the classroom! Invite students’ parents to see the artwork. The shy student in your class will likely feel much more comfortable talking about their art and their lessons with their parents!
4. Change the Room
Sometimes a shy student may be affected by the appearance of a classroom. For instance, desks arranged in traditional rows can be intimidating. Consider arranging the desks in a more inviting set-up, such as a circle. Experiment with different teaching environments to see if your shy student will open up. Teach on the floor, in the hallway, or even outside!
While shyness is something that many students struggle with, they can learn how to open up. Shyness is not something that will change overnight; it can take some students a long time to be social, so remember to be patient. Everyone has felt shy at one time or another; they are not alone!
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