It’s more than halfway through the summer, and boy have I learned a lot already. The children we have at Partners In Learning’s “Full STEAM Ahead” summer camp, are beyond smart. As the weeks quickly go by, the children are becoming more comfortable with their teachers and other campers. The bond the staff and children have at PIL is like no other than what I have experienced. Speaking for myself, I have always been shy and my comfort zone was my family. I always had good reports throughout my grade levels, but as soon as I walked through the front door at my house I was my true self. Back talked (under my breath), squinted my eyes thinking my mother couldn’t see me, TRIED to be manipulative, and basically being a kid.
The majority of the summer fun campers seem to be being their selves in the classroom, outside, and on field trips. Some days the children are singing Michael Jackson tribute songs, dancing around the room, playing dress up, and using their imagination to its fullest. But what about the child who sits back and watches everyone else? The shy, quiet kid? An article online, “Encouraging a shy preschooler to Participate,” it gives tips on how to break a shy child out of their shell. Within the second paragraph I began thinking, “that was me as a child.” It says, “Often shy children hang back because they are afraid of doing things wrong.” I would be the one to look away or look even harder at a question so the teacher wouldn’t call on me because I was terrified of saying the wrong answer in front of the whole class. The educator should make every child secure enough to feel that saying the wrong answer out loud won’t make them look “not smart,” or “stupid.” Because more than likely, another child was thinking the same thing they thought!
So how do you get the shy one to become more comfortable in a classroom? As the article states, you should introduce the child to their setting first. If possible, show them the classroom or introduce them to new friends before everyone gets there and it becomes overwhelming. What if you aren’t able to get there in time before everyone gets there? Communication with teachers always helps. My mother had to tell my sixth grade teacher I needed help meeting new friends because I was the new, shy kid and it happened the next day. I started having classmates come up to me giving me their telephone number and including me in group activities.
“Expecting an introvert to be a social butterfly is unrealistic, but helping your child become more comfortable around others and giving him the necessary social skills to make friends and participate in activities will help him live a fuller, happier life,” Edwards writes. Having that shy character trait will always stick with a child, but there are many ways to make them feel more comfortable and not be as shy. Jobs, college, and pushing myself to be more open, has made me more comfortable with myself. I have always lived a happy life, but today I live a happy, more outgoing (in my own way) life. http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Encouraging_Shy_Preschooler/
Shaina Freeze is the School-Age Coordinator for Partners In Learning. She graduated from UNC Chartlotte in December 2012 with a BA in sociology and a minor in women’s studies. For the past five years she has worked in a child care development center.