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How Can Your Shy Child Succeed in Preschool? Questions to Ask First

Preschool teacher and students sitting in a circle on the grass and having a class outdoors

Should your shy child go to preschool? If your three- to five-year-old has a naturally hesitant temperament, take a look at what you need to know about pre-k.

What Is the Staff to Child Ratio?

Individual attention may help to soothe or calm the shy child. Before you choose a new pre-k program for your shy child, ask what the staff to child ratio for each classroom is. Some preschools may have different ratios for different classes, depending on the ages of the children. In most areas, the state or local licensing agency regulates this ratio.

While there’s no magic staff to child ratio to prevent or reduce shyness in the pre-k classroom, the fewer students to each teacher, the more likely your preschooler is to feel comfortable. Smaller groups or individualized attention (from the teacher) may help your child to relax and feel secure during their school day.

How Does the School Support Social Development?

More specifically, how do the classroom teachers support social development? Along with academic areas (such as early literacy and math), the pre-k classroom should include activities related to social development — both formal and informal.

Ask the preschool’s director how the staff encourages social development. This may include small group activities, whole class lessons, child-to-child interactions, child-to-teacher interactions, or special projects. A group art project, science experiment, or similar activity can help a shy child feel comfortable in a social situation.

Social development-focused activities won’t only help your child to feel more comfortable in class. These activities and interactions may reduce some of your child’s shyness. While you shouldn’t expect a day in school to completely change your child’s temperament, over the course of the preschool year (or years), you may notice positive changes.

How Will the Teacher Handle Shyness in the Classroom?

A seasoned early childhood educator has seen it all. Beyond the years of experience your child’s soon-to-be new teacher has working with young children, they should also have a solid educational background in early childhood development (or a similar area).

It’s normal for a parent to have concerns about their shy child and the start of preschool. You see your child’s shyness during family gatherings, playdates, and in other social situations. While you want to protect or shield your child, you also need to know that their teachers will help them make the pre-k transition.

Talk to the teacher about your child’s shyness and how it impacts their daily routine. The teacher may have specific questions about what triggers shyness or how your child handles group situations. Discuss ways to prepare your child for preschool and what the teacher will do in the classroom to help your child succeed socially.

Look for positive approaches to shyness. The early childhood educator should help your child to turn negative thinking around and reinforce the strides they make — even if their daily triumphs seem small.

What Can You Do to Support Your Child?

Along with asking your child’s teacher what they’ll do to help your child at preschool, discuss ways you can support your child. The teacher may have suggestions for conversation starters that can help you approach this subject with your child in constructive and productive ways.

Even though your child may find the start of preschool a challenge, give them time to adjust — especially if they’re sensitive emotionally. As the days and weeks go by, you may see a difference in your child’s shyness or a higher comfort level. If not, continue to support your child.

Some children will always have a shy temperament. This doesn’t have to interfere with their ability to go to school or socialize. Instead of changing who they are, your child may need to learn how to manage uncomfortable feelings in social situations. The more practice they get, the better they’ll feel about their social abilities.

Is your child ready for preschool? Contact Advantage Learning Center for more information.