Supporting Introverted Children in Speaking
In today’s world, it might seem that extroversion is a more highly valued trait than introversion. For example, I have met a good number of parents who lament the fact that their more introverted children are being penalised for not performing well or speaking up during the oral examinations.
While we cannot change the grading system for the oral examination, what can we do as parents and educators to support introverted children?
In my experience teaching a diverse range of children, I have found that the arts can be used as tools to enable children to express themselves more confidently not just in writing, but also in speaking. This was also evident in the movie, The King’s Speech, where a speech therapist uses music to help a stammering king deliver his speeches fluently.
Our Speak Up, Speak Well Workshops
During our Speak Up, Speak Well workshops targetted at introverted children, we use a variety of art forms (including clay making, movement and drama and visual arts) to enable children to formulate and concretise their thoughts about different topics before articulating these thoughts verbally in front of an audience.
For example, we encourage them to use clay to make their favourite food dishes or objects related to their hobbies. While doing this, they are actively thinking about why they like such food or why they are passionate about certain hobbies.
To stimulate their thinking further, we also use videos and origami to introduce the topic of culture and how people from different cultural groups have different practices and beliefs. After immersing themselves in these activities, the participants begin to actively think about their own cultural beliefs and practices, with the help of prompting questions.
Thereafter, the children make their own zines (a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images) by choosing from a collection of pictures relating to their culture. With the visual aids of the zine, they become more confident in presenting to their teachers and peers about their own culture.
Susan Cain, the author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking recommends using different ways of teaching and guiding introverted children in the classroom: allowing introverted children to practise speaking with a partner first before articulating their thoughts to the rest of the class or allowing them to write down their responses first before verbalising them.
We have found these methods to be extremely useful as they create a safe space for children to gradually speak up instead of being put on the spot and made to respond immediately.
In addition, we teachers adopt an encouraging tone throughout, and celebrate the small successes of the children every time they attempt to answer, ask a question or present their thoughts and ideas verbally.
To find out more about our upcoming Speak Up, Speak Well workshop, click here.
Founder and Principal Instructor
Artistic Strategies Academy