I just emailed these tips to a friend of mine who’s trying to help his fourth grade daughter speak up a bit more in class. After I wrote them up, I thought it would be worth sharing them with all of you, too!
So, here they are, hardly edited at all, except that I’ve changed my friend’s daughter’s name to “Sophie”:
1. The key to extinguishing any and all fears is to do it in small steps, with small victories along the way — sometimes VERY small steps. Maybe you can set small goals with Sophie: today I will raise my hand once…today I will ask one question…that kind of thing. And celebrate madly each time, when she pulls it off. 🙂
2. You can practice with Sophie, and role play what she might say and what it would sound like.
3. Can you partner with the teacher by letting her know what subjects Sophie is especially interested in? Then, the teacher could talk to her about those subjects privately and compliment on her knowledge or interest, and ask Sophie if she could call on her with one question about that topic during class.
4. If you’re comfortable with the teacher, you could suggest a think-pair-share method — this is a great teaching tool for ALL kids, and especially for kids like Sophie. The teacher asks a question; the students think about it to themselves; the teacher pairs the students up, and the pairs discuss the question together. Then, the teacher invites the pairs to share with the class, if they’re so inclined. This technique keeps all kids engaged, but especially helps the Sophies of the world to practice articulating their thoughts out loud.
5. If there’s a particular classmate Sophie would like to get to know, but hasn’t yet, you could let the teacher know and ask that Sophie be paired with that classmate for various activities, in order to foster the friendship.
I hope this helps!
Have a great week,