Thursday, July 24, 2008

News; When Pupils Are Too Shy To Learn

No parent wants their child to be the one left out in the playground - waiting on the sidelines for an invite to join in. 

But many may not realise that being very shy can also mean they miss out on learning too. 

According to the National Education Trust, some children are not benefitting fully from school because they lack the confidence to put up their hands in class. 

It is offering to train schools so they can run their own emotional support programme which helps children develop the resilience and confidence to participate. 

Six and seven-year-olds chosen for the scheme are taken out of their class groups for a 45-minute session once a week for six weeks. 

Angela Jackson, who trains teaching assistants to run the sessions, says they are not aimed at the child who is already seeing an educational psychologist or the one with a recognised learning difficulty. 
 There's nothing wrong with being quiet 
Angela Jackson

"Instead, it's designed for the child that is sitting in the classroom and not attracting much attention," she says. 

"They may have had something happen outside of school - maybe they have moved home or maybe there is a new baby in the family. 

"Or they might just be a bit shy or have difficulty forming relationships." 

Mrs Jackson says there is nothing wrong with being quiet, it is just important that children are able to participate. 

"They may be a perfectly happy child, but if they do not have the confidence to put their hands up and ask questions they are not going to get the full benefit from all that's going on around them," she adds. 

Richard Lee, head teacher of Barford Primary School in Ladywood, Birmingham, said he decided to try the scheme because he had a year group of children with a lot of interesting characters. 

'Clamming up' 

"We thought this would be useful for them because it's all about social interaction and how to relate to their peers and adults. 

"We chose a selection of children who weren't necessarily the most difficult or challenging but would benefit from raising their self-esteem. 

"They might have been classed as your classic wall flowers, or they were stigmatised by a certain type of behaviour. 

"They didn't know that they were being treated any different but they were all taken out of class on a regular basis. 

"They all thoroughly enjoyed it and we saw quite a change throughout the period that we ran the sessions." 

Mr Lee described one child who was very, very shy and had a tendency to clam up. 

"He had a lot to say but he just couldn't get it out in an acceptable manner. He would get it all mixed up in his head and stutter a lot. 

"By the end of the programme, he was the child who could have a full 10 or 20 minute conversation with the rest of a group." 

Another child, Mr Lee recalled, lacked the social skills to interact in class properly. 

Fear of ridicule 

"He wasn't malicious, he was a bit over-enthusiastic, and didn't take his turn to speak. 

"By the end, he could wait and listen and respect other people's points of view." 

And it is not just the children's ability to participate and play by the class rules that improved, they have also shown improvements in their ability to organise themselves and learn in a group effectively. 
  The children are wonderful but they may not necessarily have all the acceptable manners 
Head teacher Richard Lee

The 6s and 7s programme is all about helping children with their social and emotional development so they can make friends and participate in class. 

And by all accounts it seems to work. 

In another school, a year group was assessed for their suitability for the programme against a range of skills and characteristics. 

Those with scores in the middle range were picked for the special classes. 

By the end of the programme, half of those who had been on it had upped their scores to the maximum scores recorded by the year group as a whole. 

Mr Lee concludes: "We are in an inner city school in an area of Birmingham which is pretty deprived. 

"The children are wonderful but they may not necessarily have all the acceptable manners. 

"I've always said you can have the most wonderful teacher, but if they can't manage the class and there isn't that social relationship between the children, then the children won't learn. 

"You have to create a situation where children feel comfortable to speak out and know that they won't be ridiculed by anyone."

No comments: