DD is 2.2ish she has always been at home with me and while she is very confident and chatty at home, she will not speak around strangers.
Even relatives/friends she sees fairly regularly have to have a cooling off period of about an hour before she will relax and speak a little around them. Total strangers she won't talk near at all, no matter how long they're there.
The play schools here won't take her until she is two and a half and while I definately want her to start then, I don't know what I can do to increase her confidence before she gets there.
Do you not have any parent and toddler groups near you, or singing/story sessions at the local library? All are good opportunities for your DD to meet new people whilst having the security of knowing you are nearby. It would make play school easier for her too when the time comes.
After maybe half an hour of clinging to me she will go back and forth from me to toys or other children if someone is really persistent in wanting to play with her and she does that until we leave. She won't speak to them or me, or anyone else while this is going on.
Sounds quite normal for this sort of age. My DD, although willing to go to groups etc, very rarely actually played with theother children. Even at nursery she never had special friends - seemed quite happy on her own. She is now finishing Y2 at school and is generally described as a very sociable little girl - she still has no particular best friend but joins in with which ever group is doing an activity she fancies! I wouldn't worry too much - as long as she is getting the opportunity to mix with others things will work out in the end.
She'll be fine, my DD and my niece are like this sometimes. I think it's important not to make a big deal of it; if you're visiting someone and she needs a cuddle for an hour so be it (this can be tricky when the family who love her are trying to engage her and getting a bit offended, but tough luck!) How about some kind of singing group or something where she's not under any pressure to get off your lap and play with anyone or anything, but there's fun stuff going on?
my 22 month old twin boys are exactly like this. i find it so frustrating that they are full of life at home, but take them to a toddler group and they are really reserved. And with even immediate family, like my sister and her kids that they see as often as once a week, it takes probably an hour before they warm to them each time. After an hour they are fine, running round and talking, smiling, engaging with them. But each time for the first 30 minutes or so its like they are total strangers!