Shyness is a combination of emotions; fear, tension and self-consciousness. Shyness is also something a child is born with or without, and has no bearing at all about how socially, academically and emotionally adjusted he or she is. Sometimes students display these emotions and as educators we must see beyond and behind the outside emotions.
It might seem that a shy child is low in confidence. In actuality, he is feeling the attention is on him and he doesn’t want to be the center of attention. Students fear failure and this pressure often impedes on their academic performance. Usually tutors can develop an intuition for the needs of shy students but if you are having a tough time trying to reach to a student’s full capability there are some strategies you can implement such as positive reinforcement, peer interaction, and confidence building.
As the tutor you must understand that the effort is 90% yours. Students that are unwilling to work or seem reserved are that way due to being uncomfortable or anxious. It is your job to monitor and control this setting. Try offering a small compliment, acknowledgement of an effort, or an exercises that sets them up for success. Take the time to really listen to them. Possibly slow down the pace. Reassure him that “practice makes progress”. And you might as well tell him that it really doesn’t matter if he raises his hand in class and to stop feeling bad for it.
Several studies have suggested treating shyness through peer involvement. Cross-age tutoring programs, small group exercises, and cooperative activities can help draw out the shy student. Assign him with a partner or a designated role. Create a situation of which he will interact with others in a social situation of which he might otherwise not have created on his own. If you are tutoring one-on-one, it is best to keep the conversation natural and personal. Act as his peer and not as a superior since a source of his shyness could be from feeling intimidated. Individual tutoring goes beyond just the books and homework.
Lastly, you can help the shy student thrive by building his confidence. Normalize the shyness – after all half of our population is considered shy. Guide him into knowing that it is perfectly human and accepted to not want to ask the teacher a question, or to talk all the time, or to be uncomfortable in new situations.
If you are tutoring a shy child, congratulations – You are working with a smart, insightful, usually well-focused and gentle child.