5 Ways Teachers Can Help Introverted Children Succeed
If you want to know how teachers can help an introverted child, you are not alone. All kinds of instructors have struggles bringing out the best in introverts, and analyzing their development and skills due to their inward nature. Children who are introverts in school can pose even greater challenges for teachers, simply because they aren’t fully developed, and often communicate in wildly different ways than older students and adults.
The following tips can help you understand how to handle a shy kid, and how to engage with these learners as effectively as you do with extroverted students.
How Teachers Can Help an Introverted Child
1.) Respect their differences to extroverts. It is so easy to think we have to change students. After all, when students learn they change, right? Yes, and no.
They develop, but they still maintain their core personality and interests no matter how much you influence them. Introverted students get drained from the overstimulation of being around so many people all day. Don’t be alarmed if they are detached, or maintain fewer friendships than other students. And don’t act like there is something ‘wrong’ with them because of their introverted nature. Many experts agree that introverts simply prefer to exist in smaller circles and may need time alone to re-charge. You just have to adjust your expectations for what is normal based on each student’s personality and behavior.
2.) Reassure them of how unique they are. Author Susan Cain, an expert on the subject of introverted children, describes how talented and gifted many introverted children are. She states that many introverted feel like there is something wrong with them, because they are more withdrawn than extroverted kids. She says “Introverts often are really amazing, talented, gifted, loving children, and they feel like there’s something wrong with them,” she says. “And our mission is to make it so that the next generation of kids does not grow up feeling that way.” She also dissects the difference between being introverted and shy. She says being shy is the fear of being judged. Many introverted are shy, but not all, according to Cain. So make sure you communicate in positive ways with introverted children, which is different from how to handle a shy kid.
3.) Ask kids to pause before answering questions. Young learners can be quick to blurt out answers, or quick to feel ashamed if they don’t immediately know the answer to a question. Perform exercises with your class where you force them to think before they speak and answer questions. Why? Because introverts in school thrive when given the chance to think things through internally before sharing their opinions with others. This can also give other students a good exercise in slowing down their minds to create more thoughtful analysis of class topics.
4.) Choices, choices, choices. Introverted children also do well when they are given the freedom of choice in learning situations. How teachers can help an introverted child sometimes involves loosening boundaries and encouraging individuality. They naturally do not like to be restricted, and having choices gives introverts in school a real feeling of independence. There is also a tendency for teachers to think of group activities to inspire teamwork or better interpersonal communication between students. However, introverted and extroverted students can benefit from being assigned individual work during class time that takes thought and concentration for long periods of time. You will see that introverts love to put their head down and work; especially if it is a topic the are especially interested in. This is why many introverts love the arts. They can get lost in the sounds of playing an instrument, or creating worlds out of fiction or painted on canvas.
5.) Give alternative options for communication. Again, sometimes people that want to know how teachers can help an introverted child just need to give the kids a break. If you think you can change every child into an eager extrovert, you’re going to miss the beauty of your introverted students. Their quiet output can inject just as much good in this world as anything produced by a more outgoing individual. So when you set up processes for communicating with your students, keep the introverts in mind. Make sure they can approach you in a private setting. Maybe this means regular email or one-on-one assessments with students. Any way you can make them feel comfortable expressing their feelings honestly will do a world of good.
These are just a few of the ways you can learn how to handle a shy kid or introverted student. Be sure you also communicate with all your students’ parents by asking how they bring out the best in their children.