Do you know what it is like to feel invisible? Have you ever been in a room full of people and wondered if anyone would notice if you decided to leave? Have you ever made a comment or suggestion and minutes later hear someone else repeat your words as though you had been talking to yourself? Now think about the quiet, easy-going, and/or shy children that may be in your care.
It could be the child that rarely asks for help. Perhaps they are the one who continually sits quietly through group time. Maybe they are more likely to wait patiently for lunch or give up easily for a chance to take turns with a new toy. Sometimes children with flexible or fearful temperaments will watch from a distance and resist joining large groups. They may be more willing to “go with the flow.”
It was common practice in my toddler classroom to write individual notes on each child’s daily sheet. We also wrote anecdotal notes on an on-going basis to document their learning. While finding a routine for these processes, I remember struggling to write detailed notes for all of the children in my care. I noticed that I could document all kinds of learning for some children, while straining to recall instances for others. I realized that these children were typically those that did not “stand out” for any particular reason. Perhaps they were less likely to “throw temper tantrums” or often times preferred to play on their own. Sometimes after the morning greeting, these children demanded a lot less from me, whether it was one-on-one attention, help with tasks, or behavioral guidance. I didn’t mean to ignore them but I realized that I was unintentionally doing just that.
It became apparent that I was going to have to be very intentional on finding ways to observe children with quiet and/or fearful temperament types. I realized that I had to make adjustments in my practice. I made sure that I sat near them as they played. Sometimes to watch and observe, other times to interact and make sure they knew I was there for them too. If I knew they liked to read books, I would invite them to read. If I noticed that they preferred to play somewhere else in the room while there was a small group activity available, I would allow them that time. The trickiest part was helping children stand up for themselves when other, more persistent children would take their toys, so I would gently let that child know it was okay to say “mine” or “no.”
Once I became more aware of my own behavior, I was able to make changes. It is the teacher’s responsibility to make sure that all children’s needs are being met. We have to be flexible and understand that not every child is going to fit in the same mold and it is our duty to make sure that no child falls through the cracks.