Supporting Quiet Kids

Chances are, you have several quiet kids in your program. You may not have even noticed them. But there they sit, week after week, doing their work, not causing a disruption.

Quiet kids get ignored in a lot of classrooms and out-of-school learning spaces, and this is a problem; talking is really important sensemaking time. Adults spend most of their energy giving redirection or extra challenges, so this means that the quiet learners can often go hours without being engaged in conversation. Here are some tips for including your quiet kids.

Identify Them

Make a list of 2-3 quiet youth you could engage.

Tell Them Something You Notice About Them 

This shows them that you care without being judgmental. This might be "Are those new shoes?" or "I heard you really like the Lakers." This can help them know that you care about them and encourage them to open up.

Structure Interactions

If you have one quiet youth in a group with three vocal youth, the quiet student can quickly be drowned out and lose their opportunities to make sense of science through talk. Try to balance groups so that your less-vocal youth don't get drowned out, but also think about making sure everyone gets 1-2 minutes to explain their ideas or talk about a way they would solve a problem. For some ideas on how to do this, check out this STEM Teaching Tool for supporting ELLs (who are often quiet in class).