Quiet children are easy to overlook. Your attention may be drawn to the rambunctious ones in your class, and you may just be grateful for the invisible ones for not contributing to the chaos! But there are ways to support each child to grow, even the quiet ones. The goal here is not to turn introverts into extroverts, but to make sure that each child — each child — is learning and growing. As children feel safe and comfortable in Primary, they may grow into finding their voice. They may find that they enjoy becoming more active participants in gospel learning.
As always, pray for the Spirit to guide you as to how to support each child. Here are some ideas to support quiet children to grow.
- Child doesn’t feel comfortable in class yet? Appreciate every contribution, however small. Praise often. Shower with love.
- Child isn’t in the habit of participating and doesn’t know where to begin? Ask a young child to hold a picture. Or ask a child to repeat a phrase or a scripture after you. Even this level of participation can be a starting point.
- Child needs time to think or muster their courage? You might say something like this: “In a minute I’m going to ask you ways we can be obedient, so be thinking while we sing ‘Quickly I’ll Obey’ (CS 197).” Or “I’m going to give you a minute to think. After I tell the story of the ten lepers, I’m going to ask you how we can show gratitude today, OK?” You may even want to phone them at home or mail a postcard with the lesson topic and let them be thinking about how they feel about this principle, or ways they have experienced it.
- Child needs practice? You may want to break the class into pairs and have each child share their thoughts with a neighbor. Then those who want to can share with the whole group. Sometimes children will gain confidence to speak in front of the group having successfully shared their ideas with one other person.
- Child simply doesn’t want to? As we said, the goal here is not to turn introverts into extroverts, but to make sure that each child — each child — is learning and growing. Give it time. Just like tender flower buds opening in spring, children will grow in the sunshine of the Spirit and the warmth of your love. And if they continue to simply prefer to absorb instead of participate but are still learning and growing, that’s enough.