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It’s great when your child is enthralled by what she’s learning in class, or fascinated by the guest speaker at an assembly. Some kids, however, choose not to share their ideas or questions during a classroom discussion for fear of asking that dreaded “dumb question,” because they may not be sure how to articulate their thoughts aloud, or for other reasons.
“I was a pretty shy kid and remember not taking show-and-tell items out of my backpack,” says Claire Milam, a spiritual coach and bilingual special education professional in Austin, Texas. Trust, she says, is a crucial component in family and classroom relationships, as is patience. In fact, many of the parents and educators we asked agreed that sitting down to listen to what your child has to say, particularly when she is curious about something new, builds her self-esteem. The lack of opportunities for children to elicit new information from those who actively listen generates apathy.
Your child can do activities on her own, with siblings, or classmates to start building the self-confidence to ask questions and stay engaged in class. You, too, can communicate with your child at home to foster in-class curiosity and confidence. Here’s a sampling of tips, games, and activities to try:
Urge questions in non-academic settings
There’s something about a classroom of desks and a teacher in front of a whiteboard that rattles the nerves of kids. Foster confidence outside of the classroom, then, by encouraging your child to talk to employees at the grocery store, or order and buy their own food, suggests Milam.