Learning to participate actively in class discussions and activities is hugely important for any child’s social and intellectual development. Participation builds confidence and healthy self-esteem, as it requires kids to believe that they belong in the classroom and have meaningful things to contribute. Children can also participate in school in a variety of ways. Answering questions from teachers or peers, asking questions of their own, inviting classmates to play or do group activities together, and helping keep the classroom orderly are all equally valuable forms of participation.
It’s important to remember, however, that active participation doesn’t come naturally to every child. While certain children have no problem asking questions or volunteering for tasks, others may be held back by particular learning disabilities, fears, or simple shyness. Once their children start preschool, Singapore-based parents will want to be on the ball when it comes to addressing any reservations kids might have about class participation and encouraging their enthusiastic engagement.
Here are five effective ways to help your child become more active in the classroom:
Encourage Open and Honest Communication
One of the best ways to help your child make the most of their time at school is to communicate with them directly and frequently about their experiences. It’s important that your child feels comfortable approaching you for help, advice, or even just a listening ear. Establishing open lines of communication about your child’s school life will not only give you opportunities to monitor their progress and performance but will also bring you closer together.
Make time regularly to sit with your child and catch up with them about how school is going, no matter how busy you might be. Encourage them to share their honest thoughts and feelings about what they experience in the classroom, the material they’re studying, and the teachers and classmates that they interact with every day. These conversations give you an organic way to identify and begin unpacking any participation problems your child might be encountering.
Model a Love of Learning
Constant pressure to perform well may cause young children to fear or resent going to school, which, in turn, will dampen their motivation to participate in class. It’s important for you to emphasize to your child that school is not just a place where their words and actions are constantly being measured. As their parent, you need to demonstrate to them that there’s plenty of joy, excitement, and wonder to be found in discovering and learning new things.
One of the best ways to nurture enthusiasm for learning in your child is to demonstrate it yourself. Take any opportunity you can to discover new information or learn new skills alongside them. More importantly, show them that making mistakes and needing to ask for help are completely normal and even healthy behaviors. A child who is learning to love discovery and to not fear failure will be more likely to seize and maximize participation opportunities.
Help Your Child Prepare for Class
Children who feel unprepared for school are unlikely to speak up for fear of making mistakes and embarrassing themselves in front of their teachers and classmates. In contrast, children who are more familiar with and actively interested in the material they’re learning will be more comfortable participating in class.
Making time to help your child with their homework regularly is a good way to build their confidence and make them feel more prepared to tackle the next day’s challenges. Talk with them about which parts of their lessons they enjoy most and which ones they find most challenging, then work with them on their problem areas. Another viable option is to enlist the services of a private tutor, either for home-based sessions or classroom sessions at a tutoring agency.
Encourage Participation in Extracurricular Activities
Kids who are reticent in the classroom may find it easier to participate in extracurricular activities, which are usually ungraded and therefore often come with less pressure to excel. Urge your child to develop a diverse range of interests by checking out a variety of extracurricular clubs and activities. These can include trying out for sports teams, taking art or music classes after school, or joining other co-curricular clubs. Finding an extracurricular activity or two that they really love will eventually motivate your child to come out of their shell, and it may even help them take a more active role in classroom activities as well.
Work Closely with Teachers
Communicating regularly and openly with your child’s teachers is an effective way to help your child navigate any difficulties they may have with class participation and with school in general. These discussions allow you and the teachers to compare notes on your child’s academic performance and experiences in the classroom. Consider meeting with at least your child’s homeroom teacher on a bimonthly or monthly basis to process any problems that either of you have noticed and brainstorm on possible solutions.
At the end of the day, there are many ways that parents can help kids address any underlying issues behind a reluctance to participate in school activities. With sufficient support from parents and teachers, even the most withdrawn child can learn to be engaged and active in class.