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Study Shows Shy Kids Need Customized Support to Succeed

Kid with head down

Some kids who talk less in the classroom or refrain from raising their hands really just need a guiding hand to help them open up. Support from teachers is crucial to their success.

A recent article from New York University posted on Futurity.org points to research that “shows that [shy children] may have difficulty in school, and teachers may perceive them as being lower in academic skills and intelligence than their more outgoing classmates.”

Writer Rachel Harrison shared that an intervention program called INSIGHTS into Children’s Temperament can help teachers understand where all children are coming from in their classrooms and what temperaments they might have. The four temperaments identified in the program are “shy; social and eager to try; industrious; and high maintenance.” A 10-week study tasked teachers with the duty of supporting early grade students based on their individual temperaments. A control group received reading instruction without temperament-based interventions.

While all children enrolled in INSIGHTS showed improvements in academic skills, the effects were substantially greater for shy children. Shy children who participated in INSIGHTS had significant growth in critical thinking skills and stability in math skills over the transition from kindergarten to first grade, compared to their shy peers in the control group who declined in both areas.

Close to 350 students who were kindergarteners to first graders were studied for the research and all children attended “urban, low income schools.” Shy or withdrawn children need to feel that they are heard and may need coaxing to share their thoughts and opinions. Interestingly, there were no gains in language arts skills when comparing the control group to the shy children, “perhaps due to the benefits the children in the control group gained from the supplemental reading program.”

“We need to reframe our understanding of these children, because for the most part, shy children are not just going to ‘come out of their shell,” said lead study author Erin O’Connor, associate professor in NYU’s department of teaching and learning.

Read the full article.

Corrie Kerr, EducationWorld Editor

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