In my Tuesday YR class is an extremely shy kindergardener. She's possibly the smallest student I have ever taught. She doesn't speak, doesn't really make eye contact, and doesn't verbally contribute (i.e. raising hands to ask questions). She's a cute kid, and above average at drawing, being able to keep up with the second graders that make up the rest of my class. But she is so painfully shy!
So how do you bring out a kid like that from their shell and encourage them to take some risks? My class is small enough so that I can give each student sufficient individual attention, which is why I'm asking this question. If it was a larger class, I probably would just let her do her thing since she isn't bothering other students, nor is she off task. But I think if she opens up a little, I can teach her better.
Although shy kids are not quite the mystery to me like non-shy kids are. I was a shy kid too, painfully so. I understand why sometimes shy kids just want to be left alone. Or meld with the decor. Or just not talk, because talking isn't always enjoyable. These kids also get the short end of the stick because the teacher is usually busy with the students who act out in louder, more obnoxious ways. They tend to be highly independent, figuring stuff out on their own before asking for help. Which is good. But they often do get over-looked and under-appreciated among a class of 20-35 other students clamoring for attention.
For the most part, I make sure she's in the conversation by looking her way whenever I ask an open-ended question, or when I'm checking for understanding. I know she's following when she does what I say. I know she's not following when she seems to be day-dreaming and doesn't respond quickly. I would like her to be a little more out-going - because it sucks to be so shy sometimes. It can be paralyzing, and then you miss out on opportunities, or get seem indecisive but really just can't manage to make that first step forward. Been there, done that. It's always better to learn assertiveness and be your own advocate.
So Super Shy Kid, it's ok! Take it one step at a time. Today, she gave me a good long look in the eye and smiled shyly. Yep, one step at a time.