Which School for Shy Child?
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Public school for shy daughter?
- Shy daughter entering kindergarten
- Good Elem School(s) for Sensitive Boy?
My daughter will start kindergarten next year and her dad and I are having the public/private debate. She'll be on the younger side (5 in August) and is pretty shy. My main concern about the public schools is the large class size and worrying about my shy kid getting lost in the crowd and feeling overwhelmed by all the other kids. I'd appreciate any thoughts or advice from other parents of shy kids. Thanks
One thing I want to tell you is that my younger daughter was painfully, terrifyingly shy before she started kindergarten. When she was with kids she knew she was gregarious and adventurous, but it took months of being at her preschool for her to open up, and that was with the teacher for the younger kids almost constantly being in contact with her during the ''school'' day. As we got closer to the start of kindergarten I was losing sleep and panicking. Her teachers assured me she was ready but I flat-out didn't believe them.
Welp, about a month before kindergarten started, she just -- changed. I dunno if it was because she finally weaned (shut up! I know! it was not my choice!) or because we had monthly play-dates with her soon-to-be classmates, but she had a painless entry into public kindergarten. She has a wonderful teacher, too. So that helps. We are in a small school in the West Contra Costra district.
Not that you asked, but -- private schools count on your fear. And every private school is different. There are as many different private schools as public schools, and you have to do due diligence on every one of them. There was a private school I had my heart set on when my husband and I were having the same very tense discussion, and I just mooned over it and thought I would be doing my kid a terrible disservice not sending her there. Later, after the whole thing was over and my kid (the older one) was doing fine in public school, I happened to be back at that private school to pick up my friend's kid and frankly was stunned at the chaos -- and how spoiled and un-diverse the children were. I really think that if you find the right public school, you will find there are many, many advantages that you hadn't even dreamed of -- and that your child is stronger than you think, especially if you are there to help her along the path.
Ah, the eternal public vs. private conundrum... There are some great discussions in the BPN archive that help address the big picture. But you're asking about YOUR shy kid. Well, without knowing HOW shy or WHEN/WHY shy... some kids learn to be not-shy when they're in an atmosphere where they have to learn to advocate for themselves, or they find the right new friend/teacher that helps them, or they just happen to change for unknown reasons (they want to be a Big Kid or whatever) OR... they withdraw more, get bullied, don't like their teacher, etc. Both scenarios can occur in either public or private! There is NO guarantee for either choice!
So, best you can do is tour all the considered schools, talk to teachers, figure out best ways to support either choice, etc. It's scary and overwhelming when it's your first child - I do remember with mine. It'll all work out in the end. Another Mom
My husband and I had the exact same debate when our now third grader was entering Kindergarten. We live in an area known for its excellent public schools, but were quite concerned that our shy, smart, rule-following boy would fade into the background. We researched quite a few schools both public and private and eventually chose Aurora School which is a private school in Oakland. To say that it has worked well for our son is an understatement!
While he is still working on interacting with adults outside of the school environment, there is not one person in all of Aurora that he doesn't feel comfortable talking to. Everyone knows him and he knows everyone. He feels incredibly safe there.
One of many reasons I think it has worked so well for him is that students have the same teachers for two years. For example, his K/1 teacher and her teaching assistant got to know him so well when he was in Kindergarten that starting 1st grade was no big whoop. Another reason is that each classroom has two grades. So, when he was in Kindergarten half of his class was first graders who were there to show him the ropes. Then, when he was in first grade he had to step up to show the new Kindergarteners. This opportunity for leadership helped give him the confidence to find his voice and to use it (at least at school and certainly at home - maybe too much at home!) and that confidence continues to grow.
I encourage you to take a look and see if Aurora might be a good fit for your daughter. The Admissions Director's name is Lisa and you can reach her at 510-428-2606 x204. Good luck with your search! Happy at Aurora
You don't say what school your daughter would attend, or even which district, but here's my experience with OUSD. I've enrolled three shy kids in a highly-regarded OUSD elementary school, including a girl who is the youngest in her grade. All three have been absolutely fine and have made friends (in the case of my older kids, close, close friends). But like I said, their school is deservedly highly-regarded with talented teachers who are able to handle the large class size. So my shy children did not fall through the cracks. But your experience with your young shy child will depend on the specific school. There's a good chance your child will be fine. Oh, one other benefit of the larger class size is that there are more potential friends--more kids with a similar temperament to your child's who might be a great match. Mom of 3 shy kids
I didn't see the original listing and don't know which school district you're in, but many or all Berkeley public schools used Balanced Beginnings in Kindergarten, which can really help your situation. The first few days of school the kids are randomly placed into groups, and they rotate through a different classroom/teacher each day. At the end of the 3 days, the teaching team has a long meeting to discuss every child, in terms of academics, personalities, social situations, existing friends, even who has parent volunteers...and they create balanced classes. I know this year we have one class with many shy kids in it, and they have bonded and come out of their shells. Another class has many quiet boys and strong, assertive girls. It works. Somehow the personalities balance out. I highly recommend BUSD. BUSD mom
My daughter, who is 4.5 years old, is extremely shy and sensitive. When she's in unfamiliar situations, she doesn't talk. I've set up play dates with other children, and she won't interact at all. She's been in preschool for 2 months, and has only talked to one other child. (I had her in preschool last year, but removed her and put her back in family daycare because she seemed so withdrawn and miserable at school). Now I'm trying to figure out what private school would be a good fit for her. I'm contemplating Archway, Aurora, Berkwood Hedge. I live in the Oakland area. Anyone with an extremely shy kid with recommendations? Mother of shy 4.5 year old
Wow sounds like me when I was that age...Until I was about 11 I refused to ever go to a playdate at anyone's house and generally was VERY quiet. Now I think I'm making up for it! My son was quite shy as well when he was 4 and we were deciding about schools. We looked seriously at public school but were concerned that he would ''disappear'' in the crowd. He likes other people, he just had a hard time speaking up and/or approaching them. He is now at Berkwood Hedge and we're very happy there. The school is small enough that there is no way for him to ''disappear'' and his kindergarten teacher, Hanan (who by the way is one of the most amazing teachers I have encountered) very gently but very persistently drew him out of his shell and made sure that there was room for him. He has made friends with a lovely group of other boys and seems to have found his social niche. He will always be somewhat shy I think but has learned (and I give Berkwood Hedge a lot of credit for this) to feel safe and content in his circle. I will also say that when we visited Berkwood Hedge, he immediately felt at home there--so there was some gut response on his part! Good luck with your choice. Formerly shy parent
My sister has two children at Archway school. I shared your concerns with her and she believes Archway would be a good match for a shy child. There are only 12 to 13 kids per class, only one class per grade, and everybody knows everybody. As an Archway ''aunt,'' and as a former shy child myself, I've seen the small community they have there and think it would be a school you should definitely visit and learn more about. Good luck. Liz
My daughter is a kindergardener at Aurora. I think you should definitely check it out for your daughter. Aurora is a warm, welcoming place where all different kinds of kids are fully appreciated. Social/emotional development (e.g. communication and conflict resolution skills) are incorporated into the curriculum. There is a small teacher:student ratio. In all grades (K-5) a teacher and full-time aide (sometimes 2 full-time teachers) is in each class of about 20-24 kids. There are LOTS of parent volunteers in the class, which means there is almost always 1-2 volunteers in the class as well. This means there is lots of small group work and individualized attention. For a shy kid, it means they won't get overlooked, and they will be in smaller groups where it is easier to speak up. We--and our child-- have been thrilled with Aurora academically and socially. The website is www.auroraschool.org. To schedule a tour contact Lisa Piccone, Admissions Director at 428-2606. Lori
This isn't exactly answering your questions about schools, but may be helpful otherwise.... I wonder if your daughter has a social anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism. Selectively Mute kids will talk to a few people, but not most people...it varies in different kids. They may have one or two special friends they talk to but no one else in the class. Often they talk to parents and siblings. My 9 year old son has SM. He has progressed over the years....he now talks to most kids, a handful of adults, but no one new, no teachers...etc. Essentially, they get so anxious when people talk to them that they simply close down...like stage fright. They become physically unable to speak. Pressuring them to speak just makes the anxiety worse. You can find out more about Selective Mutism at selectivemutismcenter.org
Feel free to e-mail me if this sounds like your daughter. I have lots of local resources June
Our almost 5 YO son will be entering Kindergarten next year, and we've been searching for the right fit. He's a sensitive, bright, and delightfully intense boy who loves school. He sometimes gets overwhelmed in large or chaotic situations. He's in his second year at a small, nurturing preschool. We live in N. Berkeley and have entered the central zone lottery for BUSD (Oxford, Malcolm X, Washington, Cragmont, and BAM). We have also applied to some private schools -- Windrush, Berkwood Hedge, Park Day and Black Pine Circle. I was wondering if parents of other sensitive boys out there might be willing to share their experiences/advice/recommendations at any of the above schools? Or any other school recommendations? Thank you! Dizzy from the choices in the EB