Why are quieter children so undervalued?

(83 Posts)
googlenut Fri 13-Jul-12 23:05:16

I've got three children, some extrovert and some introvert. And each year some teacher will bring up the more introverted ones quietness as if it was a fault. It really irritates me, anyone else?

Roses12s Fri 13-Jul-12 23:11:10

I agree my DD report says she needs to stand up for herself in a group like being über confident is the ideal.

Yes googlenut. DS1 was shy/quiet/reserved in First School. The teacher couldn't handle it at all. She liked the confident ones, and at parents' evening asked us what we were going to do about his lack of confidence/shyness.

If he cried she would send him to the office because she didn't know what to do with him. He cried a lot because she was horrible to him. sad

He's 13 now and still remembers how horrible it was in Miss X's class.

dontcallmehon Fri 13-Jul-12 23:15:27

Yes, this annoys me too. Dd's report said how wonderful she was, well behaved and able, but that she didn't raise her hand and share her knowledge and that she was shy.

Some children are shy! She is able, well behaved and kind and gentle. that is enough for me.

Devora Fri 13-Jul-12 23:18:10

Same here. Glowing school report about hard work, good behaviour, thoughtfulness, imagination etc, but repeated complaints about shyness. No recognition that there may be a connection...

It's not just children, though, is it? Introversion is undervalued throughout our lives.

dontcallmehon Fri 13-Jul-12 23:22:36

Yep. Am a fellow introvert, so I understand dd completely. Her report also said she had a large group of friends incidentally, so her naturally shy nature doesn't seem to prevent her from having friends (which I'm pleased about, as it did me when I was little).

I think it is a positive attribute to be clever but modest, caring and empathic without always needing to hog the limelight.

Sadly, we introverts get over looked a lot.

ByTheSea Fri 13-Jul-12 23:22:47

I love my DD1-13, but I am sitting here with a banging headache and she is just chatting and chatting and chatting. She honestly won't stop prattling on. I'd highly value a quieter child at the moment.

dontcallmehon Fri 13-Jul-12 23:24:47

See, dd1 will chat and chat at home. She is quieter at school and still an introvert, but more confident with those she loves/feels totally comfortable with. So we still get driven mad!

Devora Fri 13-Jul-12 23:28:27

Oh yes, here too. We can't shut her up at home. Her behaviour's not so great here either. When I asked her why she couldn't behave at home like she did at school she said, "Well, you're not going to send me to the headmaster, are you?"

At school they can't get a peep out of her and they have never, in two years, had to tell her off.

dontcallmehon Fri 13-Jul-12 23:32:46

dd1 is exactly the same. Stubborn, strong willed and always fighting with dd2. You'd never hear a peep out of her at school. She sounds so similar to your dd, Devora.

HumpheadWrasse Fri 13-Jul-12 23:38:46

It's preparation for the real world. Huge prejudice about the introverted in our society. I'd encourage your quieter DCs to be more outgoing even though it doesn't come naturally for them, because the reality is being an introverted adult in today's world can bring much misery.

dontcallmehon Fri 13-Jul-12 23:44:31

I think you can't. When I try to be extrovert it causes much internal anguish and feelings of embarrassment and self consciousness. dd is more extrovert than I am, which I regard as a good thing, but I wouldn't want to change who she is.

I think as long as you have enough confidence to make friends (she does) and to cope with daily life, then it's fine to still be a little introverted (which can, but doesn't always mean you are also shy). Shyness can be worked on, introversion can't. You are or you aren't. It causes internal conflict to fight against it.

However you can be a more confident introvert, if that makes sense.

I find some overly confident people overbearing and lacking in sensitivity.

flexybex Sat 14-Jul-12 00:16:36

I have several children in my class who would be classed as 'shy' or 'introverts' in the classroom. We are, however, very fortunate that we do Forest School in YR and KS1.

By taking the children to the woods, I feel privileged to get to know the academic 'shrinking violets' as they really are - regular feisty, bold, bouncy children!

googlenut Sat 14-Jul-12 05:47:28

I'm with you all on this. Dd got scores of outstanding for motivation. behaviour and enthusiasm for her academic subjects, yet her PE teachers says she is not competitive enough in team games and holds back because of 'shyness'. Why do they feel they can criticise so much. It drives me mad but also makes me think a lot of teachers are not very bright or motivated to look underneath (above poster excepted!)

jabed Sat 14-Jul-12 07:09:01

As an individual I can agree with all that has been said. I too am an introvert as is my DW. I think we both suffered from this being mentioned on our school reports as if it were a fault. I do not think it is.

My DS is also quiet (well you might expect it with us for parents) and it seemed to be an issue for his teachers at school too who I found out didn’t even know who he was and confused him with other children as a result. This is because the " look at me, me me" extroverts overshadow them. The cut and thrust of some classrooms is not a good place for quiet, well behaved children.

As a teacher I love teaching introverts. I am fortunate in that I have a good share of them in my classes. When I do have party animals in class it’s much harder for me to teach. It’s much harder for me to give attention to the introverts - and yes as a result I do not get to know them! So, I would say, the fault is not our DC's but the teachers (me included when I have party animals in class) when these criticisms are made.

However, I dont know about you, but in the real world, being an introvert started to have advantages once schoolie me days and the world of look at me was over. Of course in some jobs being an introvert is required but generally employers prefer quiet confident and responsible and reliable people (something most introverts can have in spadefuls).

crazygracieuk Sat 14-Jul-12 08:04:53

It's because so much teacher assessing is linked to talking so if you din't talk the teacher can't assess. By teacher assessment I mean guided reading, talking partners and a lot of group work that happens at school.

I was introverted and it annoyed me a lot that extroverts were allowed to get away with low level extrovert (impulsive?)behaviour like talking when the teacher was, calling out, talking over or trying to dominate group situations in general, especially when they tended not to have the best ideas in the first place.

Sadly I have noticed that extrovert adults get the best deals in life too.sad

That's the thing crazy all the gobby, loud kids seem to get on really well, and all the gobby, loud adults do too. sad

DS1 is never going to be an extrovert, it isn't his personality. But he is bright and funny, polite and caring. I hope in the future this will help him, but I admit it's a worry.

adeucalione Sat 14-Jul-12 09:04:58

But if the teacher didn't tell you that your DC were shy or introverted at school, how would you know, as they are chatty and bouncy at home?

Maybe the teachers think that you need to know, so that you can, if you want to, develop strategies to maximise their confidence?

I had no idea that DS was painfully shy at school until his teacher told me and I was glad she did - until then I had been very pleased that he didn't take after me and seemed much more confident. As a consequence I took steps to help him gain confidence in the classroom and whilst he will never be a party animal, I think he has improved a lot.

To me, shyness can be a hindrance in the same way that being wildly impulsive can be a hindrance - a natural character trait that can be improved upon with work.

Secondary English teacher here -I am probably at fault for doing this occasionally! It must be frustrating to hear as a parent - these are the reasons I might point it out:

1. Speaking and Listening counts for 20% of the mark at GCSE - working on shyness earlier is much easier than battling through it when you're being assessed!

2. I know so many wonderful quiet children with wonderful ideas, and I'd love the rest of the class to get the benefit of those ideas on occasion (rather than the ideas of the same few loud ones all the time!)

We're trying to help, honest! Interesting thread, though - I will definitely bear these stories in mind next Parents' Evening smile

TheFallenMadonna Sat 14-Jul-12 09:32:51

I'm an introvert. And a teacher. I always acknowledge that a naturally reticent child will find it difficult to share ideas, but I also point out the advantages of talking (where appropriate!). It's not personal criticism. It's advice.

I think it's going too far to suggest that quieter students have the best ideas though...

And definitely not true that "gobby" children always get on better. Unless you are thinking of something different to me with respect to the word gobby.

I think I have a particular teacher in mind Fallen, so my views are a bit tainted I'm afraid. She loved all the loud kids (of which DS2 was one) but she had no idea how to deal with DS1, he spent most of his last term in Year 4 in the office.

Mind you one of her comments to him was 'Don't bring your work to me unless it's right' so that was unhelpful to say the least.

My experience is that teachers prefer the 'not backward in coming forward' kids. DS2 is one and he is reaping the rewards.

dontcallmehon Sat 14-Jul-12 09:38:57

Shyness can be improved with work. Introversion cannot.

marriedinwhite Sat 14-Jul-12 09:42:01

My Dd is very quiet and reserved. She is also well liked, well behaved and very measured. She is becoming more confident in herself now she is getting bigger but she will never be the girl in the limelight - neither is she ever the butt of gossip or bitching because she thinks before she shares her thoughts.

Last year her class teacher sighed and churned out all her plus points then did an eyeroll over her quietness and how she would like to see her more confident and outgoing. My mother does it too and adds "you need to do something about that quietness".

Now I just reply "she is who she is and we love her for who she is and the important thing is her self esteem and that will not be supported if we tell her she should be different from who she is". She will be most successful if she is allowed to be herself.

Apparently I should have signed DS1 up to a Performing Arts club, and that would have sorted it all out. He wanted to do football though.

dontcallmehon Sat 14-Jul-12 09:44:22

I remember being bullied at school and my teacher asking me to talk to her about it. She asked me if I was upset about something. I replied in a meek little voice: 'yes, miss.' She asked me to talk to her frankly and openly, apparently I didn't have to call her 'miss,' I should just tell her what was on my mind. Again, meekly, I replied: 'yes Miss.' Frustrated by my shyness, she turned away and said: 'Oh, just forget it!' I was 10. I have never forgotten it.

I was painfully shy. I have worked on that and will do so with dd, although she is no where near as shy as I was and can be fairly confident actually. She is just quiet. However, this did not prevent me from succeeding in an interview to study English at Oxford, where I had to talk articulately and intelligently for an hour. Nor did it prevent me from gaining an A* in English, 20% of which was Speaking and Listening. Nor did it prevent me from achieving an A in A Level Theatre Studies, 40 % of which was based on performance.

ClaireBunting Sat 14-Jul-12 09:44:33

I don't think quietness is undervalued as such. I think the teacher is just setting a target for the child to become more active in all aspects of the lesson.

Stepping forward, being persuasive, etc, are all important lifeskills.

difficultpickle Sat 14-Jul-12 09:44:40

I was very introverted at school. My reports always said I lacked confidence. I did very well academically though.

Ds is the opposite, boundless confidence but doesn't seem to do well at school. I think a lot of it is he talks too much and annoys his teacher. In his end of year report his teacher wrote "His conversation and enthusiasm will be missed by his class mates." I interpreted that as she won't miss him at all!

TheFallenMadonna Sat 14-Jul-12 09:44:59


I think it's more personality driven because it's a more intense relationship. DS had a teacher who told me she didn't understand how his mind worked, and she didn't, but DD she absolutely got, and was probably her most successful teacher.

In secondary, there are far more teachers and less time with each. Loud actually gets a bit wearing. My DS is quite loud (but still an introvert I think, in that he needs his social down time to function), and I know that it will not be charming to his teachers in September...

dontcallmehon Sat 14-Jul-12 09:51:32

If we all stepped forward all of the time, no one would ever get a bloody word in. Thinking of one extrovert character I know in particular, if everyone was like her it would be an absolute nightmare!

Perhaps rather than suggesting that quieter people need to change, what we actually should be doing is encouraging listening skills, so that it is not just the loudest and pushiest members of society who get their voices heard.

Yes, I think there was a huge personality clash for DS1, he and his teacher couldn't really communicate. Luckily we have the 3 tier system here so he was saved in Year 5 at Middle School by the youngest, kindest teacher and he is now in Year 8 at High School and doing very well.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sat 14-Jul-12 09:57:50

There's a very good book on this called Quiet: the power of introverts in a world which can't stop talking by Susan Cain. It has a chapter on parenting introverts which i recommend.

I have often noted in life that those who are critical of the quiet are generally (whispers it) quite stupid. They fear those who look like they might be thinking deep thoughts. It is difficult to avoid such people but their opinions should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

The quiet children are not undervalued at my school! We love them!

But shyness is different from introvertedness, or being quiet. A quiet child is fine, a child crippled by shyness needs some help in order to develop strategies to overcome their shyness.

I was a shy child. Would go bright red in class if I had to say anything, couldn't read my stories or poems out like the other kids, couldn't put my hand up or share my ideas, even though I had loads of ideas and was very bright. The shyness was a disability for me, and I was very glad when my secondary school decided to help me overcome it, or I wouldn't be able to do the job I do today.

I am still quiet, and introverted, but the difference is that now I am confident too.

CockOff Sat 14-Jul-12 10:05:03

I think it's because most (but not by all means all) teachers are extroverts themselves. The job, by it's nature, attracts people who like working with lots of people and being the centre of attention for most of the day.
So they struggle to understand introverts or people who are shy or lacking in confidence. I don't think they deliberately overlook quiet children or seek to criticise them, at least I hope not.

CockOff Sat 14-Jul-12 10:07:20

And I agree with overmydeadbody that shyness is different from quietness.

VolAuVent Sat 14-Jul-12 10:08:14

YANBU - I totally agree. We live in an extrovert world, but it's just not the way some people are made. Introversion and quietness are not faults, they are natural character traits. And there are positive aspects to this kind of personality.

amillionyears Sat 14-Jul-12 10:11:37

My DD went through a quiet stage.
The teacher told me that because DD didnt put her hand up often,that the teacher did not know whether my DD had properly understood what she was being taught.

I actually find it hard when people assume the more extroverted children are confident with great self esteem.

My DS can talk non-stop, is funny and friendly to everyone. But he has low self esteem and couldn't talk about a real problem if he needed to because he can't articulate himself and gets embarassed. He is also a target for bullies because as soon as someone is mean/ unkind he cannot find a suitable retort. His complete sense of honesty and inability to speak out has even got him in trouble before. sad

He's the child that's always heard but never truely heard iyswim?

NoComet Sat 14-Jul-12 10:32:43

I think teachers comment on quiet children because they slow everything down.

Life is too short to jolly the shy ones into taking their turn answering questions in class.

It's totally wrong, but it's easier to just let the loud ones answer.

In DD2s class it's the confident ones who do all the front of house for assembly etc. half of Y6 almost seem not to exist.

It happens this quiet half are the less academic ones and the ones who desperately need their confidence boosting.

I love DD2s teacher, but I do think she's taken the easy way out.

I think you have explained that nicely StarBall. It sums up how I felt.

If DS1 cried he got sent to the Office because the teacher said she 'couldn't do anything with him'. confused He learnt how to photocopy. sad

marriedinwhite Sat 14-Jul-12 11:15:08

starballbunny you have just summed up what makes a grade 4 (inadequate) lesson. Outstanding teachers DIFFERENTIATE to ensure every child has equal opportunity to learn. If such a comment was made about a teacher failing to provide equal opportunity to a child with special needs there would be uproar on here.

I do think there is a great deal of truth in the comment that a high number of teachers, especially at primary, are uber confident all rounders though. Thinks of MIL who can sing in tune, keep time, knows about reading and literature, can cope with maths, and is/was good at sport. She was a round peg in a round hole and loved school, went to teacher training college and started teaching at 21, retiring at 60. The problem is/was that her experience of life beyond school was and remains extremely limited and she has a rather odd view of what makes the world go round.

DontEatTheVolesKids Sat 14-Jul-12 11:27:32

Gosh, lots of resentment here.
I think I'm quite introverted & always felt like it was a great advantage to me in most things. I only really got hassle off my parents who couldn't understand introversion (as my father finally realised when I was about 20, he even apologised for not understanding me sooner).

2 DK are introverted, but they have learnt to be more forthcoming (confident, feisty & to speak up for themselves) & I see all that as a good thing.
My most extroverted child gets in lots of trouble & it's a big challenge for him to learn to STFU. He is also the least confident DK deep down. I would say being extroverted is a much more difficult condition to live with, because they want to be out there confidently but may not be able to pull it off, so end up quite frustrated.

NellVarnish Sat 14-Jul-12 11:40:55

Oh googlenut yes. Two of mine are like this and I got so sick of hearing teachers commenting on how they 'need more confidence', like it was something you could just pop in your basket and buy at Sainsburys. They are kind, thoughtful, lovely girls and we love them to bits.

married in white, you have summed it up so well:

Now I just reply "she is who she is and we love her for who she is and the important thing is her self esteem and that will not be supported if we tell her she should be different from who she is". She will be most successful if she is allowed to be herself.

TigerFeet Sat 14-Jul-12 11:52:47

DD1 is a quiet shy introvert. Her teacher this year has really helped her put her ideas and thoughts forward. At parents' evening he said that he was the same as a child, he had good ideas but was nervous of putting his hand up in class. He felt he missed out on a lot because he never spoke up and thought that dd1 was the same. She does need to speak out more, as she doesn't always understand what is being taught and needs to speak up and say so rather than just trying to muddle through. He said as much in this year's report and I agree with him.

DD1 is amazing, she is bright and funny and loving, I wouldn't change her for the world. She just needs a bit of help showing that to the rest of the world.

NoComet Sat 14-Jul-12 12:09:21

I'm am certain DDs teacher does not miss the quiet ones out in lessons. I know huge efforts go into differentiation in that class.
And seeing some of the quietest ones take speaking roles in the play I know she tries.

It's just assembly is what the parents and perhaps more importantly younger children see.

I'm not certain seeing the most confident girls at the front each week encourages the quieter ones or the boys to think I could do that.

It sounds like I am full of resentment doesn't it? It was a difficult time, so talking about it now makes me feel a bit sad All good now though.

noblegiraffe Sat 14-Jul-12 12:56:01

Quiet is a problem if the student doesn't understand something and doesn't communicate this. It will really hinder the student's education if they are completely unable to ask for help - either from the teacher or from the students around them.

That's true noble,the 'don't bring your work to me unless it's right' stopped him asking for help at all though. He didn't dare.

noblegiraffe Sat 14-Jul-12 13:21:02

Yes, well that teacher was an idiot! I'm a maths teacher and kids being afraid to write stuff down or to give an answer unless they are sure it's right is a big problem.

I hate some primary schools' tendency to get kids to do their 'rough work' (i.e. the calculations that show their thought processes) in the back of their book or on a different piece of paper, hidden and out of sight as if it is something to be ashamed of rather than a vital part of their work which should be displayed along with their final answer.

ThePan Sat 14-Jul-12 13:26:06

This is the subject that brought me to MN a few years ago - dd, now 12 seemed to be 'shy' but I know her and it was far more than that. I googled "Highly Sensitive Children" HSC, and found not only a thread in MN, but also the more accurate description of dd, and how to communicate/understand her better.

In the end he ended up with a fear of maths and decided he couldn't do it even before he had read the question, and was virtually sick before every test.

ThePan Sat 14-Jul-12 13:29:28
tiggytape Sat 14-Jul-12 14:39:55

I have one very quiet child and have had 8 years worth of reports telling me this! I agree with objecting to the notion that being quiet is a flaw because they don't also object to his weirdly high level of obedience and absolute good behaviour that are part of the same personality traits.
A DC isn't going to stop being shy just because their school report says they must. And many are not like it at home (or not as bad) so the onus is actually on the school to support quieter children if they want to change them. Very often they are fine or not as quiet outside school and it is the school environment that is the worst for quiet kids.

In many classrooms, teacher behaviour makes it worse or certainly doesn't help. To always pick the loud children for everything, to ignore a quiet child on the rare occasions they volunteer for something, to accept answers from people calling out despite having asked for hands to be put up are all things that de-motivate quieter children and make them even more reluctant.

DeWe Sat 14-Jul-12 17:49:18

I don't really have that experience totally.

Dd1 is very shy. She struggles to say "hello" to someone she knows well. She certainly wouldn't go up to someone she didn't know, or tell a teacher if something was bothering her. She's flourished at junior school, and has just had the leading girl part in the year 6 play, including singing solos. He current teacher said at the last parents evening that she was so outstanding at everything he was going to sound very boring talking about her! She's been prefect, on school councils, monitors, always getting awards...

Dd2 is outwardly very extrovert. She's quite sensitive inside, but doesn't really show that at school. I had to go in and point out she hadn't had the star of the week a couple of weeks ago after the teacher had said that "she was sure she'd had it". hmm But she doesn't get anything. She's academically similar, very keen to be involved, but much louder and just doesn't seem to get given anything in school.

Ds otoh proves that the naughtier you are the more awards you get for not being naughty... wink

googlenut Sun 15-Jul-12 08:42:47

Thanks everyone, I hope some teachers reading this will take note.

QTPie Sun 15-Jul-12 08:59:44

I don't think schools/teachers are trying to turn introverts into extroverts. Instead they are trying to develop children into confident people with good communication skills so that they can get the most out of their academic and working lives and social relationships.

I was very shy and introverted at school, began to improve at 6th Form and am only really coming into myself towards 40 (having a child myself now has made a huge difference). I missed a HELL of a lot of opportunities because I just didn't have the confidence in myself sad

Children don't need to be introverted to be well behaved (and very often, as adults, it is not extroverts that the psychiatricists are worried about ..). Pushing boundaries is a natural part of growing up, PROVIDING there is a respect for authority and learning from pushing those boundaries.

It is a balancing act (and must be handled with care), but I would expect that all good teachers would work to try to bring introverts out of their shells (with the aid of parents).


noideaeither Sun 15-Jul-12 09:21:53

I think maybe the problem is here is the teacher,rather than the shy child - I think a lot of teachers get their feel-good validation from having their class interact with them. "I must be a great teacher/person because look how much my class are involved with me & enjoying this". Maybe the teacher is bothered by your child's nature because she cant get the validation she wants from it. She'd like your child to be different so she can get what she wants from their interaction?

Lifeissweet Sun 15-Jul-12 09:28:20

I love teaching the quieter children in my classes. I find that they are often the more thoughful ones. I don't believe that they need to be turned into extroverts as long as they are just naturally quiet as opposed to lacking in self-esteem or crippled by shyness, which can be a problem.

Well I am an odd introvert/extrovert hybrid - and a Primary Teacher.

I was never shy to put my hand up in class and share my ideas, but was (and am) very sensitive, generally quiet and easily upset.

I have been described as an understated, quiet and calm teacher. I may not be a bombastic showman, but I put a huge emphasis on relationships in my classroom. I work hard to get to know my children - and not only in an academic sense. It is important to me that they trust me.

For speaking and listening I have a range of strategies to get ideas from the introverts. I sometimes pair them up with a good friend and ask them to interview each other on a subject and then ask what their partner said. This means that they have the support of a friend and are giving an answer which is not their own, which seems to increase their confidence.

I work hard at the beginning of each year to foster an environment where we value each other and our ideas and where mistakes are expected and important parts of learning. I come down very hard on teasing or unsupportive behaviour.

I also try to rely on a hands-up approach as little as possible and try to prevent the stronger characters from taking over my teaching. I do this by handing out little whiteboards and pens to the limelight-hoggers and let them write down and show me their answers. That way, i can acknowledge that they are correct while also having the opportunity to ask a quieter child.

I'm not saying I'm great at all (I'm really not) and I have been criticised for being soft (I'm not, but a lot of teachers in my school are shouters - and I am softly spoken as I much prefer a calm environment). I am just defending my profession. We are not all extroverts who only value other extroverts.

QOD Sun 15-Jul-12 09:35:29

I get the same with dd, I am a total extrovert but she's like her dad. Her form tutor EVERY year says that she doesn't join clubs at school, is very quiet etc, and I have to remind him that she does panto every year, dance lessons etc. he seems to think that because in a crowd she is quiet that she won't succeed or have fun.

It's just how she is

tiggytape Sun 15-Jul-12 10:08:11

Quiet, shy and introverted doesn't always mean lacking in self esteem (just as a loud, seemingly pushy child may actually be quite sensitive or insecure).

I think this may be where well meaning teachers' need to 'cure' quiet children comes from.

A quiet child is not necessarily sat in class riddled with angst and fretting to themselves everyday at their inability to put their hand up.
My DS for example is happy and very confident in many respects. He doesn't bend to peer pressure to do things he shouldn't for example. The quietness isn't a symptom of some terrible inner conflict or crippling self doubt. He is literally just quiet and even at home where other DC will whoop with joy or scream in anger or charge around in excitement, DS happily expresses all those things but just much more quietly (thank goodness!)

tearoomtrash Sun 15-Jul-12 10:21:58

As a teacher I would never comment on a child being "shy" but would report to parents if the child was frequently passive during lessons, as this can have a detrimental effect on their learning (and I would use the word passive) I'm talking about the child that has to be coaxed into taking even a minor part during carpet input, or who will sit back and wait to be told what to do during every group task, or not be involved at all.

My aim is to produce children who are independent learners and prepared for the challenges of adult life, so while shyness wouldn't feature as a concern in my book, passivity would definitely be something that I would feel duty bound to report back to parents.

I would want to nurture those children to feel that what they have to offer is valuable, and I would hope that the parents would support me in this - hence raising it as an -albeit minor- issue.

Interestingly, the most common barrier to learning in more passive children, is a fear of making mistakes, and this can easily be overcome by teachers and parents working together to reassure and encourage the child.

Perhaps speak to the teacher to clarify what they mean by "shy" and whether it is a barrier to your child's progress or simply a personality trait.

MistyRocks Sun 15-Jul-12 10:28:21

marking place in thread to come back and read later....i have one of these children too and i worry about him sad

tiggytape Sun 15-Jul-12 13:03:21

I don't think DS fears making mistakes. He's never been concerned when he does. He is incredibly laid back though and maybe this is seen as passive.
You see children in group situations where they are asked to do a poster for example. The pushier ones act like the world might actually end if their suggestions aren't accepted and often there are a couple of louder children verbally slugging it out to get their own way.

DS just doesn't care enough - he might think its stupid to do a title in yellow as it won't show up but he won't argue the point for 15 minutes in the way a louder child might. On other things he will stand up for himself but it has to be something he cares about which is probably why his teachers rarely see this side of him.

He doesn't dislike school - in fact he is very academic. There is just never any group situation at school involving anything that he feels strongly enough about to move him to speak up and be pushy.

tiggytape Sun 15-Jul-12 13:06:47

(except queue jumping - he gets really cross about that and has surprised more than one classmate by sticking up for himself very vocally if someone tries to push in but again that's mainly lunchtimes so his teacher wouldn't see it).

tearoomtrash Sun 15-Jul-12 14:49:19

A good teacher would not allow the most confident children to dominate during a group task situation. instead they would actively teach leadership skills such as delegation, compromise, role distribution, supervision of tasks etc.. and would ensure that children manage their own expectations in terms of their influence within the group. They would also ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to take on the leadership role. Incidentally, making posters is not a valuable group task unless the group have decided amongst themselves that this would be the most appropriate way to present their learning.

I think one of the biggest problems for parents receiving school reports is that so many teachers veil their concerns about a child in "nice" language because we are encouraged to put everything across in a sugar coated, positive way. So passive can easily become "shy" or "quiet" (which tells the parent nothing), lacking motivation becomes "laid back" and distracting behaviour is presented as "lively" etc. Far from helpful.

I try to be straight with parents so they fully understand my concerns. They are very rarely shocked, as it is not often that you tell them something that they don't already know and experience at home. The child who needs to moderate his reactions to others is often the child that will lash out at his siblings at home; the child who doesn't take responsibility for her own belongings is usually the child that will break or lose her toys. If you see what I mean...

In your situation I would take the time to clarify what the teacher means by "shy" and whether it is impacting negatively on your child's progress. If not, I would want to know why it was highlighted in the report at all, seeing as it is merely a personality trait and part of what makes your child who they are.

mrz Sun 15-Jul-12 16:04:13

I had a mum to see me last week because she is very worried about her daughter's quietness to the point she won't speak to her grandfather who she doesn't see every day or to her friends if they say hello in the street or park. She's the same in school and yes it is becoming a real concern because in 12 months she will be off to secondary school

iyatoda Sun 15-Jul-12 16:08:53

Please put the blame on teachers for the way your children are. I was painfully shy as a child outside my house but very strong academically. would not speak up in class and had a handful of friends. Mum noticed it, perhaps from my sch report and did a lot to help me overcome it. I am still quiet but not as self conscious as my 9 year old self.

I am fortunate to be blessed with 2 DSs who are extroverts (although some days I wish they were more like me). Below are the comments we have gotten so far for DS1 (just finished Y2)

Pre-sch - Very confident, polite, caring but can be boisterous.

YR - Polite, confident, but very competitive and likes to be the first/only person to get a question right. We took her comments on board and worked on the competitiveness.

Y1 - Polite, confident, friendly but needs reminding that calling out in class is unacceptable

Y2 - Polite, confident, has a wide circle of friends, sensible.

Basically because we have picked out the boisterous, uber-competitiveness and calling out and worked on them in Y2 those sort of comments were not on his report.

For DS2 his report says this

Pre-sch - Confident, has a strong friendship group, a very kind and loving boy, gets frustrated if he isn't the winner, can be boisterous but very quick to say sorry.

We will be working on the areas that we feel needs attention.

I think for your DC's sake you need to take the comments on board.

iyatoda Sun 15-Jul-12 16:09:39

Sorry opening line should read 'do not put the blame on teachers...'

I don't blame the teacher for DS1's lack of confidence but she did nothing to help and actually mad it worse. Then at Parents' evening asked us what we were going to do about it. sad

dontcallmehon Sun 15-Jul-12 17:05:27

I think deabilitating shyness is an issue and quite rightly it needs to be addressed. But confident, quiet introverts (my dd is one) should be accepted for who they are. DD will happily go and ask for something in a shop or go and speak to the teacher if she needs to. She just isn't one of the louder characters and won't always show off everything she knows in front of a large group.

dontcallmehon Sun 15-Jul-12 17:06:45

Iyatoda, I am fortunate to be blessed with two introverts and an extrovert. All our children are blessings, aren't they?

EvilTwins Sun 15-Jul-12 18:34:55

I teach drama, but certainly don't undervalue quiet children. There is a difference, though, between those who are quiet but confident and those for whom shyness prevents them participating. I do believe that part of my job is to encourage the DC who hate having to perform or speak in front of others and to help them develop the confidence or the coping strategies to be able to do so. I often remind DC that there are very few jobs which will not involve them talking to others, and that as they move through school, then go on to leave, they need to be able to present to others. I also believe that speaking/performing/ presenting in front of other people is a skill which needs to be learned and practised regularly- little and often, and so all of my KS3 students do it to some extent every lesson. Self confidence is a life skill, for both extroverts and introverts.

BTW, OFSTED currently dislike the "hands up" approach- a skilful teacher will simply ask questions and should involve as many students as possible. This removes the issue of louder kids contributing more than they should.

Kaekae Wed 18-Jul-12 13:47:05

My almost five year old is very reserved, gentle laid back boy. He isn't very boisterous and not really a follower. He likes to play with groups of children but can be happy in his own company too. This year he hasn't been chosen for anything or given any rewards even though his teacher speaks highly of him. It is really sad that the quiet children get overshadowed as if they don't need the recognition, but they do. My son tried so hard to reach certain reward targets but never got anything. I suppose that is life but it just really knocked his confidence.

LiteraryMermaid Wed 18-Jul-12 18:06:37

I was a quiet, academic child. I wasn't exactly shy, but I was reserved (for example, I hated stating the obvious, and would rather make one insightful comment in a lesson than several superficial ones). Pretty much every school report I ever received went on about how I needed to contribute more (typical comment "I know she knows the answer, but she needs to demonstrate that she knows the answer") yada yada yada. Coped OK at school as I had a circle of similar, introvert friends. Am now a teacher myself, and am frankly shocked at how many of my fellow teachers seem to value the loud, outgoing children more - some of them talk quiet openly about how they find the quieter, more sensitive children 'boring'. Also, while 'Speaking and Listening' is now an integral part of the curriculum (and both skills are important), in my experience far more emphasis is placed on the 'speaking' part than on the children's ability to be active and effective listeners. Have just read 'Quiet' by Susan Cain (already mentioned above) which, while quite American-focused, has a lot to say about how the Western education system, with its emphasis on presentation skills and collaborative learning, tends to favour extroverts.

Happymum22 Wed 18-Jul-12 22:35:24

Two of my DDs were very very (as some would describe 'painfully') shy as children. I myself was a shy child and so have always seen it very differently and far more positively than most.
I think there are the pros and cons, like there are to being an extrovert.
My DDs were both well liked, kind, thoughtful, hard working, determined and well behaved. They never shared their ideas unless asked. They never volunteered for things unless pushed. Reports were always the same, a few lines about how great they were doing followed by the standard 'needs to participate more' comment.
I have seen in with my children and remember it myself, some teachers can relate and know how to deal with shy children and bring the best out of them while appreciating and celebrating their nature. Those who got frustrated and tell children to 'speak louder', 'come on join in' or, the worst, actually tell critically the child 'don't be shy' all make me so angry- they do nothing for the child but make them even more shy as they fear so much that just being them is not good enough and is wrong.
Teachers who really encourage, engage with shy children showing that they are just as important and worth talking to as louder children are the ones that make the difference. Celebrating shy childs successes, because unlike louder children they wouln't be shouting out 'do you like mine?' or 'i just did X' and letting them know they are good enough just how they are and you value them and celebrate their attributes.
I love the phrase 'quietly confident' or 'quietly content', finally celebrating and not putting a bad attibute to being shy.

Yes, its not an easy ride in the real world being an introvert but there are many successful introverts and confidence and shyness is not to be confused. The qualities they have are just as needed and valuable.
My eldest son was certainly an introvert, more so as he got older, and is completing his med school training with ambitions to be a surgeon. Hardly not getting along in the world or not managing to be successful!!

Pernickety Mon 23-Jul-12 15:38:51

I agree with the OP. I have a DD1 who has had her 'quietness' mentioned on her school report every year. She's Year 4 now. I don't know what they expect us to do, as she is not quiet at home. She has got a lot better in class and does raise her hand to ask questions and take part in show and tell. It's possible she will always be the quiet one, relative to the other children, but if she has tried so hard to speak out, it must be demoralising to see the label 'quiet girl' stamped across her report. Her report this summer actually said 'X is a quiet girl but inspite of this remains popular with her peer group' Erm, maybe it's because of this that she is popular with her peer group.

Anyway, I know teachers are just looking for things to write but if they have not had to endure this label on their own school reports, I don't think they realise how it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm going to ask her Y5 teacher not to write anything about her classroom quietness on her report next year. After all, it's not news to us.

LouBolla Mon 30-Jul-12 21:28:31

I have a gentle, thoughtful, observant and measured child. She is also a good listener and has a lot of very secure friendships. To those who don't know her very well she may be perceived as 'shy'. I agree with happymum22 and value the ' quiet confidence' she displays on a day to day basis.

Morebiscuitsplease Tue 31-Jul-12 21:35:17

Very interested as have two quiet children. Eldest is getting more confident with the help of an excellent teacher. As many others have said, she too is well behaved, thoughtful and thinks about things. There are some very confident children in her class and I think the class dynamic has a lot to play. She will sing in public and has read in public out of school. So....
With my youngest Pre school used the word BUT she is so very quiet. She is quiet in large groups They were surprised she did so well in her assessments.um quiet does not mean stupid. She takes everything in.
Neither children are quiet at home but our household is calm and quiet.
I agree that teachers see it as an obstacle but with the right approach can help. Shall look at the suggested book.

outtolunchagain Wed 01-Aug-12 08:23:45

Interesting I have a quiet but confident ds1 now 18 and quite insightful.

He is academically quite able but does not see the need ,as he puts it,to sit at the front of the class grinning at the teacher and proffering his options to everyone else.Some teachers(the less able ones I my opinion) have found this difficult and have gone on about needing to be more vocal with his opinions etc,one actually said that he spent his time not concentrating in the lessons and wouldn't do very well ... just because he tended to listen and then form his own opinions.He got an A .grin

His attitude has always been (even at primary school) that he knows he knows ,why does he have to show the teacher.The whole thing about " he needs to speak more in class to show me he understands" is completely lost on him .He is also not good at meaningless chit chat and sometimes this can make it hard in his peer group ,but he has a small close knit group of friends and that's fine

Bonsoir Wed 01-Aug-12 08:31:56

I think that somewhere along the line many people have got confused about desirable character traits in the (in my opinion, appalling) celebrity culture that has grown up in the past 20 years. Children showing off and being loud, and "performance parenting", are just two examples of behaviours that would have been totally frowned upon in my own childhood, a generation ago, and are now almost encouraged.

alimumoftwins Fri 03-Aug-12 10:54:27

I have just deregistered my 15 year old twins from school and am going to home educate from September. They were so badly bullied at school by kids over all years - they were such easy targets being identical twins, had not one friend and couldn't socialise. They never spoke in school and had continuous panic attacks through the day. The school couldn't/wouldn't help them. The bullying culiminated in school phobia and I feel it has affected them mentally. They become so intraverted I feel they are damaged by the system. Every time we went to the school they highlighted their shyness - as being the problem. How can it be changed when it is part of who you are! The more bullied they were the more introverted they became. I see so many traits in them from when I was a child. We get them out every day and are trying to boost their confidence. Thankfully their stress levels have gone but they are very lonely children with very low self esteem which makes me deeply unhappy. I am taking one day at a time with them at the moment. The only people they are themselves with are myself and their dad. I even wonder if they are on the autistic spectrum and it has been completely missed. My god they've suffered over the last 4 years and I only wish I'd been brave enough to take them out of school earlier.

tiggytape Fri 03-Aug-12 12:19:47

Bonsoir - I agree with you. Once upon a time being a happy but quiet child was considered the ideal! Now an ideal child is seen as one who is feisty and speaks out. DD gets much more praise and many more stickers at school than DS. She is a complete extrovert pain in the classroom by all accounts whereas he has probably never said more than 10 words in all the years he's been there!
I think people assume quiet = sullen or aloof more than they once did.

I also agree with those who have experienced teachers who think quiet = not clever. Whilst speaking and listening are valuable skills, they are not the only ones needed but many teachers seem to identify the clever kids by which ones are bouncing up and down and shouting out answers rather than by testing them all to see who actually knows the answers.

DS got all 5a's in his recent SATS and although she didn't say so, I could tell his teacher was gobsmacked. She is so obsessed with how quiet he is that she doesn't seem to take into account that, despite never volunteering an answer, he obviously does know them. She assumes he must be terribly stuck because he never says anything. He on the other hand feels no need to say anything - he understands what is going on and has nothing to add to the conversation! Actually he could be child genius level and he would still never be one of those kids bouncing up and down shouting "I know, I know, pick me"

alimumoftwins - that is an awful experience for your DD's and so sad that the school haven't been able to help at all. The socialising and confidence issues can be hard to tackle but there is no excuse for a school that does not crack down on bullies. I hope they will be happier at home and that they can move on from this.

whoosh Sun 05-Aug-12 19:21:23

My dd is v quiet, like I can be at times, and sometimes i can see it causes her anguish. I have tried to help her express herself with drama and talking at home but I know it can be hard. At school, when teachers tell me she is quiet I ask them whether she answers when they ask her a direct question and they always say yes, so I ask them to help her build her confidence in a group by asking her a direct question.

Ann3 Tue 07-Aug-12 12:03:49

I have many introverted children in my classes across the keystages: bright motivated, able and conscientious in reading and writing - just not in speaking and listening. The English curriculum is split into these three aspects and teachers HAVE to report back on them in individual paired and group tasks. The way around this is to have a group of six or so and to circulate using the TA. teachers have to report back honestly, as this is an aspect where it is possible to get A* at GCSE in this aspect, and contributes 1/3 weighting to the overall KS3 level. So while it feels it's a comment on personality of a child ( I am an intovert) it's not intended that way it is more of an assessment of listening and speaking skills which are statutory.And if this aspect impacted on poetntial I'm sure most parents would wish to know in order to encourage and build confidence.

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