The Quiet Kid: When Your Child's Not Speaking In Class

Jacob's Kindergarten Zoo trip
Jacob's Kindergarten Zoo trip

My son, Jacob is very quiet and shy in nature. Typical little boy, loved his toy soldiers, asked lots of questions, and enjoyed his favorite characters whether it be in a movie, book, t.v. show, etc. There's an interesting incident with Jacob when he first started school. An experience that taught me more about my sons personality, a teachers perspective, and my patience.

It started on the first day of Kindergarten. First day of school, new atmosphere, new sounds, and new faces. Jacob's shyness was predictably obvious, but he never had any hesitation about being there. Slowly within the first few days or so I began to learn of Jacob's classmates, his teacher, and their activities from him. He always had much to report about what happened at school by the end of the day. He'd recall incidents that were funny to him, what he saw on the playground, and what they were learning about. So I felt relieved that my little guy had made a pretty good transition into school.

Until my first meeting with his teacher. All was well, in fact Jacob would be the first to finish his work a lot of times, and there were no behavioral problems. I then learned that his teacher was concerned about the fact that he wasn't talking at all. So we talked of Jacobs shyness and she seemed to feel a bit better about the situation knowing that he's very shy in nature, and how I explained that outside of school he has no problem speaking at all. I walked out of the meeting finding some humor in the fact that the concern she had for my son was ironically complete opposite of the boy we had at home. So I shrugged it off as him being shy, and figured he's at least speaking to one or two kids in class. After all, with his enthusiasm of descriptions of his classmates and overview of his days, how bad could it be?

A few weeks later into the school year, his teacher brings up the same concern. Again? I'm thinking, that should've passed by now, I was sure the level of comfort with school would've improved at this point. His teacher explained to me that he wasn't talking at all, even out on the playground to anybody. Apparently the one and only person he had spoken to was a lady at the afterschool daycare on campus. My level of concern rised a bit and I decided I had to do something. So I began conversations with Jacob about why he wasn't talking, and they always resulted in him pretty much quieting down with no real answer at all. My frustration grew, and it got to the point where our morning routine would include "Now, don't forget- make sure you talk in class today." I look back, and realize, there was no real impact in saying that at all, but more of my impatience speaking to him.

 This became even more frustrating when his teacher decided to refer him to a school psychologist. At this point, she was more concerned because the school year was coming to a close. When Jacob was called to her desk for individual assessments, instead of answering "What number comes after 5?" like the rest of the kids, Jacob would simply point to the answer instead of verbalizing it. So she actually mentioned considering holding him back due to the fact that part of the requirement to move on from Kindergarten is that they can verbalize what they're learning, especially since in first grade they'll have to start reading out loud. I didn't agree with that aspect, but being that I wasn't able to get through to him the psychologist idea was at least an option. Thankfully, our one and only session was a big success. Jacob was his typical self and the psychologist had nothing to report to his teacher other than his shyness.

His teacher explained a field trip to the zoo that was planned and mentioned maybe it was a good idea if I came along. So I went. I'm assigned another little boy to chaparone along with Jacob, and we're sitting on the bus. I sat behind my son and his classmate. A while into the ride, the teacher gets up and starts handing out snacks asking each child if they wanted an apple or a banana. I'm staring out the window, not much in mind when I hear her reach my son and she says in a very slow and loud tone, "DO- YOU- WANT- AN AAAPLE OR BANAAANA?" I think the look on my face said it all, and I'm glad she wasn't looking at me. Then I realized, he may not be speaking, but he's not an idiot! It reminded me of how people resort to talking louder when speaking to someone who doesn't speak english, really? As if the volume of your voice is going trigger their brain to understand your words. But I also realized, thinking back on our conversations, how genuine she seemed about helping Jacob. I knew she had every good intention to get through to him and that was just a way of her trying. Automatically, I knew that her speaking to him in that manner didn't help the situation at all. Knowing my son, and personally how I would feel in his shoes I wouldn't want any attention being brought to me at all, let alone being talked to like I'm deaf.

The final breakthrough moment happened while we were sitting on the bus on the way to the zoo. I started to notice Jacob and his classmate chatting a little bit, and laughing. I didn't think too much of it, because again, I figured he was at least talking to one kid or two occasionally. Then one child over hears Jacob's voice and literally stands up just like a scene in a movie and while pointing at my son with astonishment and joy in his face as if he's found gold, says "LOOK- Jacob's TALKING!" The bus roared with excitement and there was some commotion with a few kids trying to get in Jacob's conversation as if he was some kind of celebrity. My heart dropped. It wasn't till this point that I realized he hadn't spoken one word at all most of his Kindergarten school year. I think what pulled my heartstrings most were his classmates reactions of relief, concern, and happiness through their voices. My son was all smiles from the rest of the ride through the whole day at the zoo.

I could finally exhale from all the pressure and frustration brought about by this whole situation. I learned that Jacob's personality is more complex than I think. He is very smart, very observant. I've learned through the years that he is more mature than I think he is. He's still a kid, but has a lot more in him than he likes people to perceive of him. I'm proud of the personality Jacob holds and I'm excited to see him growing more comforable in his skin everyday. He's fourteen years old now and graduating eighth grade this year. No problems in school, good grades (well, math is kind of a struggle) good set of friends, loves reading, keeps up with his chores, loves music, guitar, boxing with friends, and helps often with his little sister and brother. There are many frustrating incidences in parenting. I admit I'm not the most patient person, but I am proud to say that my patience has definitely grown. I appreciate every moment with my kids. The times where things were rough and difficult with them, like this incidence of Jacob not speaking at all in class, makes me appreciate them at their best so much more!

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Comments 29 comments

thekidandblue profile image

thekidandblue 6 years ago from London, England

Awesome hub. My son is very quiet to be honest he's exactly the same as me and I hope he gets through OK. Thank you for sharing :)


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks blue. From what I've read from you, I'm sure he'll get through things just fine. Take care!


lisaluv9784 profile image

lisaluv9784 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

This is wonderful,and im glad I read this.My daughter is very shy and quiet,much like I was at her age.She started kindergarten this year,and I was very worried how she would react to being around so many strangers.She has made a lot of progress though,and she is very smart.Thank you for a great article!


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks for taking the time to read this lisa. I'm glad you could enjoy reading something you could relate to. Extreme shyness in kids takes a lot of patience to deal with, so I thought it would be nice to share my experience with others who might need some encouragement and hope dealing with their own situations. Thanks again!


daisyjae profile image

daisyjae 6 years ago from Canada

Your son sounds just like my son! He's in grade one and its the same thing, loud and talkative and funny at home and quiet at school. Thank you for writing this.


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California Author

Your welcome daisyjae. Yeah, my son's still quiet at school in general, but I've seen him interact with his friends when he doesn't know I'm around and I know he's progressed well. I think the really shy kids just tend to be more careful when choosing who they are going to show they're comfortable side with. I'm sure your son will do well, thank you for your comment and I'm glad you stopped to read! =)


SamAntone 6 years ago

Nice hub! I was a very quiet kid, too. This gives me the idea to create a hub about it. I think, by age 66, I've figured out all the reasons I was so shy. When I write it, I'll give you a heads up on it.


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California Author

Thank you SamAntone, definitely let me know about your hub. I'm glad to hear that reading mine has inspired one for yourself! I'd love to read up on your experience. =)


SamAntone 6 years ago

Okay, it's done and waiting for you.


SamAntone 6 years ago

Oh! I forgot another reason: My family moved to another neighborhood when I was 13. I edited the hub to put that part in.


Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

cheryl, great hub. I'm sure it will help a lot of people


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks Granny's House. Yeah, I hope it will at least let others know who are dealing with this that there is hope with situations like these! Sometimes there's no complicated answers, just a plain and simple one. =)


thandie 6 years ago

i have read you story,im having a problem with my son's class teacher who treats my son as if his stupid,my son is doing Grade1 and his 6yrs old the teacher just told me today that my son will repeat the class cos his slow.


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California Author

Hi thandie, thanks for your comment. Wow, amazing how your son's teacher is only just now informing you of holding him back when there's only a month of school left. I'd go over with her his actual academic results to be sure she's basing this on his grades. My son't teacher mentioned the possibility of that also, yet he'd be the first to finish his work and did very well with assignments. If he's doing well academically, there should be no reason for her to hold him back. Best wishes!


Royalmark profile image

Royalmark 6 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria

Almost same as me... But, you know what? The most interesting aspect of our life is that we grow up smarter, more brilliant, more intelligent than most of our age-mates-cum-peers... Love the pic @ the bottom... Your son's handsome and You? You're sooO cute and beautiful *guess you aren't more than 35*... Ciao!


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California Author

Interesting that you can relate Royalmark. I do find that my son's more observant at times than others, quiet mostly but very observant. He has pretty inquisitive questions too. Thanks for your kind remarks regarding our pic!(...sigh...) Yeah, actually 32- but I'm feelin like 25, that counts for something right?! LOL! Thanks for reading. =)


Royalmark profile image

Royalmark 6 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria

You're welcome... Pls, just watch him carefully and also give him advice frequently *you never know, he might be one of our future leaders*... You look and sound sweet *thanks for telling your age; almost got the age mark, right? :-)*


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California Author

Oh Royalmark, believe me- watching him carefully is an understatement. Maybe we're too overprotective at times. But hey, he's starting high school now so we stick to being strict yet trying to teach independence and responsibiity. There's such a fine line there at this age. You're right, you never know what the future holds for any of us, especially our youth! =)


Royalmark profile image

Royalmark 6 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria

Thanks! I'm out... Will check on your other hubs later... Ciao!


Maximum A profile image

Maximum A 6 years ago

nice hub. oftentimes i grow silent and i like being silent. now i realize how hard it must have been for my parents when i didn't talk. ur son is lucky to have u as a parent!


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California Author

Thank you Maximum A. I do remember being pretty shy and quiet myself when I was younger, but not to the point where I wouldn't speak in class lol! It was frustrating as a parent, I'm sure it was even more frustrating for my son. Either way, I figured it's something to share especially for anyone going through the same situation. Although I've never come across anyone who had a child who would not speak in class. I appreciate your comment.


kelleyward 4 years ago

thanks for the Hub! My oldest is pretty quiet so I can relate. I think it's so important to let them grow into who they are as a person and not force them to try to be someone they aren't, just as you said. You sound like a very caring mother!


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 4 years ago from California Author

Thanks for taking the time to read about my experience with my son. It's hard sometimes to not push our perspectives and sometimes choices on them, but in order for them to grow we do have to let them make their own choices. Only thing we can do is encourage them and help lead them to the best options available. My son is 16 now, and this is truly still a huge learning experience for me. I think sometimes I'm too overprotective, but I guess we've just got to trust our best judgement and pray our way through parenthood! :)


Jeni 4 years ago

Hi! Thanks for this post. I'm a student, too and sometimes I don't understand people. For instance, why do people associate shyness with lack of ideas or imagination? Sometimes we just don't feel like sharing, if you know what I mean. Anyways, I enjoyed this article! :)


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 4 years ago from California Author

Thanks Jeni, I know what you mean. Some people just don't have the patience or lack understanding when it comes to quiet people. I believe that quiet personalities just need more time and attention, well if you're wanting to learn more about them. Sometimes the most quiet people are the most observant. It's definitely not a bad thing, just a difference in personality. Ironically, the most quiet people will probably grab the most attention when deciding to have something to say. I'm glad you enjoyed this article!


Marj 4 years ago

Hi Cheryl,

Your hub was an answer to my prayer this morning as I prepared a profile titled "About me" to present to my son's (5yrs) teacher just so she can understand my son better. He's exactly like your son! I'm praying for God to help my son and for us to simply be patient and encouraging. Your hub has strengthened me! Thank you!


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 4 years ago from California Author

Hi Marj, I feel very honored to be of help in your situation. Have faith in him and his personality, and help him the best you can to go with the flow of changes as he enters kindergarten. If there's anything I've learned from raising my three kids, it's that each individual is so very different. I think sometimes teachers can be overwhelmed with all the personalities they handle on an everyday basis, that any "challenging" personality situations tend to be overlooked and not responded to appropriately. The best thing you can do is communicate with your son's teacher often and help her understand how he is. It can be a very frustrating situation, and many times it's those situations where the answers sometimes come in such a simple form. I still pray to this day for God to be with each and every one of my kids in their everyday lives, that they may find the strength and courage through him to shine their lights in this world! Don't worry Marj, soonner than later you'll look back at this time with a smile wondering where all the time went lol! Take care. :)


Mohmed Zaeem profile image

Mohmed Zaeem 4 years ago from Male, Maldives

Hi Cheryil,

My kid, a boy is now in grade 1 and I am also getting the same complain from the teacher..

I came across your page while searching for some information regarding this problem.

I am glad I found your page. As this is a real case it helps not be too stressed about my kid.

Thanks so much for sharing the story.


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 4 years ago from California Author

Your weloome Mohmed. Jacob is the oldest of my three kids. My youngest is now 5. One thing I've learned is that in tough and frustrating situations like these, my stress and worrying did no good at all. I realize now, that easing up on it a bit and just taking the time to focus on what's positive would've still given me the same results. Trust your instincts about your son. If he's doing well in school work and socializing fine with kids other than his classroom atmosphere, I would just give it time. Just let him know that you're always there for him when he needs you. Encouraging him is the best thing you can do. Best wishes to you and your son! :)

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