Parents worry about sending a shy child off to Kindergarten. They wonder if they’ll be able to advocate for themselves with teachers and classmates and whether being quiet will make it challenging to make new friends. These concerns are understandable, but Fay Kindergarten teachers Lee Bogaert and Anne Canada want to calm those fears. “Usually, shyness doesn’t last too long in Kindergarten,” says Anne. “We spend so much time together and work so hard to build a safe community within the classroom that you’d never really know anyone was shy after a week or two!” However, if you are looking for ways to ease the transition to Kindergarten for your quiet child, here are a few helpful tips.
Don’t label your child as shy.
When your child clings to your side as you enter a party, it can be tempting to mention their shyness by way of explanation. However, those words have power, and the more a child hears themselves called shy, the more it will reinforce their reticence.
Prepare your child for unfamiliar situations.
Children who are naturally cautious like to assess a situation before jumping right in. When possible, prep them ahead of time with information about where you are going, who will be there, and how an event will unfold to minimize any anxiety they may feel.
Create Opportunities to Open Up
While a quiet child may avoid the spotlight, Anne and Lee mention that most kids will open up a bit when sharing something meaningful, like a drawing that they are proud of or a book they love.
Teach politeness as a way to navigate social situations.
Manners are an excellent tool for navigating new situations. If your child knows how to introduce themselves, make eye contact, and converse in a loud and clear voice, that’s a great ice breaker! At Fay, our Primary School students get practice with these skills every morning when Head of Primary School Katie Knuppel greets them at the door.
Let them know they are not alone.
Shyness can feel isolating, but it is also extremely common. Let your child know that feeling a little uncomfortable in a new situation is normal. Anne points out that books can be a great way to facilitate conversations on this topic. She suggests starting with The Invisible Boy
by Trudy Ludwig, Wemberly Worried
by Kevin Henkes, When No One Is Watching
by Eileen Spinelli, and Willow’s Whispers
by Lana Button. Let them know that some children are naturally quieter, and that’s okay.