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Why Students Don’t Participate In Class (And Why It Can Be A Problem)

Students raising their hands in class.

There are a number of reasons students may choose not to speak up during class discussions or raise their hand when they have questions. For many students, it’s because they fear they will look silly, nervous, or less smart if they get the answer wrong—and their classmates will judge them for it.

Because of this, many students feel that keeping quiet and listening to the class discuss concepts is the safer option. But participating in class is an important part of developing communication skills and understanding class material.

It takes time and practice, but there are many strategies students can use to make speaking up in class easier.

Read on to learn about why it’s important for students to participate in class, and how you can encourage your child to join in on more class discussions.

The Importance Of Classroom Participation

Why is it important for students to participate in class? Firstly, participating in class discussions improves your child’s comprehension of the material. It can also help him or her become more invested in the class material. Comparing other students’ opinions on the material to his or her own will encourage your child to think about the course concepts more critically, helping improve his or her comprehension.

Class participation also develops your child’s communication skills. Communication skills are very important in upper years of schooling when he or she will have to discuss ideas and collaborate with others. The more your child participates in class, the more he or she will develop these skills.

Students who participate in discussions show their teachers that they’re prepared and interested in class concepts. These students tend to score higher in class participation and communication skills on their report cards.

Why Students Struggle With Class Participation (And How To Help)

  1. They Fear Saying The Wrong Answer
    Many students will not speak up in class because they fear that other students will judge them if they have the wrong answer. They are worried that if their answers are incorrect, other students will question their intelligence. Though this fear is understandable, it shouldn’t get in the way of participating in class.

    How To Help: Make Sure Your Child Knows That Comprehension Is The Goal

    Help your child learn that it’s okay to get an answer wrong! The goal of speaking up and asking questions in class is to get a better understanding of the material. You can help your child become more comfortable with not knowing everything by normalizing it at home. Speak openly about questions you don’t have answers to or times you’ve been wrong in the past. Your child will see that not knowing every answer is something that happens to everyone—and he or she doesn’t have to stress about it.
  2. They Don’t Think They Have Anything Valuable To Contribute

    Another reason some students don’t speak up in class is that they feel other students’ opinion matter more. They feel that their own perspective on the material isn’t very valuable so there’s no point in sharing. This feeling often stems from insecurity or social anxiety. These students need to understand that adding to the conversation only makes for a more meaningful discussion.

    How To Help: Build Your Son or Daughter’s Confidence

    Help build your child’s confidence by asking for his or her opinion. This can mean asking your child which type of cereal the family should purchase at the grocery store or asking what to have for dinner. Be sure to communicate with your child that you know he or she is smart and that’s why you came to him or her for advice!
  3. They’re Unprepared

    It’s every students’ biggest nightmare—being called on in class to discuss course material when they’re unprepared. Students will never participate in class discussions if they don’t know what the class is talking about.

    Unfortunately, students who are unprepared for class discussions are missing out on a lot of potential learning opportunities. Class discussions are meant for bringing up questions students have and deepening their understanding. If a student isn’t able to participate, he or she won’t be able to clarify the material her or she is struggling with and will maintain a surface level understanding of the material.

    How To Help: Help Your Child Keep Up With Schoolwork

    If your child takes school seriously and wants to succeed, the issue might be that he or she is too overwhelmed. Your child may have too much on his or her plate and be unable to keep up with the workload. If this is the case, sit down with your child and work out a study schedule. Work with your child to prioritize important tasks and offer him or her your love and support.

    If your child doesn’t seem to take schooling seriously, you should check in and talk about his or her future goals. Make sure he or she knows that doing well in school is important when it comes to taking advantage of future opportunities like scholarships and college admission.
  4. They Fear Public Speaking

    The fear of public speaking is very common among students of all ages. They are often worried that their classmates will judge them if they appear nervous or if they lose their train of thought.

    Participating in class discussions may be hard if someone has a fear of public speaking—but these discussions are a great way for students to practice presenting their ideas to their peers. They don’t have to stand in front of the class and they don’t have a time limit; they can speak from the comfort of their own desk for as long as they feel comfortable. It may be hard to participate at first but over time it will get easier!

    How To Help: Help Your Child With Public Speaking Strategies

There are many helpful strategies available for students who have anxiety about participating in class.

Your child can write down his or her thoughts and read them out loud during a discussion so there’s no risk of losing his or her train of thought.

Encourage your child to get comfortable participating by slowly increasing the amount he or she speaks in class. Your child can first try to contribute one thing in class, then two things during the next class discussion, then three the next. After a while, he or she will learn to speak with more confidence during class discussions.

Your son or daughter can also try to imagine speaking to the teacher directly. Instead of addressing the whole class, he or she can focus on the teacher and no one else. This may reduce some anxiety about having an entire classroom listening.

Discussing Concepts Is Easier When You’re Confident

If a student is confident in his or her understanding of the material it will be much easier sharing his or her thoughts with the class. Learn more about the different programs at GradePower Learning and see the difference tutoring can make for your child today!

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