Have you ever found yourself hyperventilating at the thought of giving a presentation at work? Do you cringe at the idea of leading projects? Some new British research found a connection between childhood classroom participation and future success.
This was affirmed by psychologist Dr. Ken Shore who found classroom participation is an important part of student learning in an article published in Education World. “When students speak up in class, they learn to express their ideas in a way that others can understand. When they ask questions, they learn how to obtain information to enhance their own understanding of a topic.”
Raising their hand, asking questions or expressing opinions and ideas can be scary for any child, but you can help them grow out of that feeling. Teachers from different areas shared their experiences and reasons behind the push for classroom participation. This article speaks through the eyes of these teachers and how your child can find the courage to participate.
Participation Drives Lesson Plans
“Participation drives every lesson. Without active participation from students, the teacher can become frustrated along with other students. If students are not actively participating, there may be some changes that the teacher must make on their part,” says first-grade French immersion teacher, Kiara McCalvin. As a French teacher, participation is key to ensuring each child has a grasp of the content. McCalvin encourages parents to help their child understand the importance of participating in class and how it can be useful for their future.
McCalvin takes all forms of student participation into consideration when creating her lesson plans. “Some students like [talking] with a partner, some prefer to just raise their hand and answer questions, some prefer hands-on activities, etc..” Having a clearer understanding of each student’s needs allows McCalvin to be creative and find different ways for students to feel involved.
Parents can take the same approach by learning their child’s learning behavior and pushing them towards activities that help bring them out of their shell. A post in Psychology Today suggests allowing your child to “branch out” and play with children “unlike them.” This allows them to practice interactions outside of their comfort zone and makes the idea of class participation less intimidating.
Moment of Understanding
Sometimes, participation is not for the benefit of the lesson material, but another way for the teacher to get to know their students. Eighth-grade math teacher, Jemila Mitchell said she finds it “extremely effective to encourage participation, particularly during the middle school years, and taking a very intentional approach listening to their lives. Building relationships, recognizing their interests, reaffirming their self-confidence, or beliefs, and validating their importance as well as listening to key parts of their life makes them a more well-rounded and self-driven student.”
When your child feels a sense of belonging and that their contributions are valued, they’re more willing to participate. Psychology Today says this feeling of comfort can show itself in many forms – not just in the classroom. ‘Participation can be shown physically (helping clean), or emotionally (giving someone a hug) or even socially (inviting friends to hang out).’ Once a student understands the value of their input, participating may not seem so bad after all. “They look at themselves as a whole person in the classroom who is additionally experiencing the specific content,’ says Mitchell, this “engages them more positively with the entire process of learning as it should be applied both in and out the classroom.”
Asserting oneself in the classroom early on will have high rewards later in life. “The more children felt connected to their school community and felt engaged, rather than bored, the greater their likelihood of achieving a higher educational qualification and going on to a professional or managerial career,” say researchers at Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, an Australian medical research institute. Help your child become the leader of tomorrow by encouraging them to speak up and be heard today. Whether that means pushing your child to their greatest potential, helping your child build courage is within reach. As mentioned, this can either be done through practicing outgoing activities at home or even setting your child on play dates with different types of children. Like anything, it just takes practice.