Is your child an introvert?

Is your child an introvert?

Last week I came across an interesting article in The Atlantic, about introverts, or more specifically, about how one teacher views and treats introverts. To read the full article, go to

But here’s the gist of her argument, in Introverted Kids Need to Learn to Speak Up at School by middle school teacher Jessica Lahey

"In order to be effective in this world, you must be able to communicate. If you can’t speak up for yourself, if you can’t muster the courage to tell the person you love that you love them, if you can’t advocate for your own safety, the world will be a very intimidating and frightening place. I don’t want my kids to be intimidated by the world."

“When a parent tells me that his or her child is simply not capable of communicating educational and emotional needs, I see a child even more in need of mastering interpersonal communication. I’m not talking about the value of communication as it relates to grades here; I am talking about the value of communication as it relates to personal health, happiness, and safety. A student who is unwilling to stand up for herself and tell me that she does not understand the difference between an adverb and a verb is also less likely to stand up for herself if she is being harassed or pressured in other areas of her life.”

Is this teacher confusing introversion and shyness? I think so. A child who is excessively shy, and suffers from social anxiety, does need to learn the survival skills of communicating, whether one-on-one or in a group setting. I’m not sure that forcing that child to speak up in class, if the classroom doesn’t feel like a safe environment, is going to have the desired result.

Being introverted rather than extroverted, however, is not about being shy. It is estimated that about 25% of the population is introverted; and while not all children with high IQs are introverted, there is research that indicates that most introverts tend to have higher IQs. See what this next author has to say about introversion, in Caring for Your Introvert: The habits and needs of a little-understood group by Jonathan Rauch:

Some of you may see your child (or yourself!) in this group. For while people are always talking about drawing introverts out of their shell, few of them – including the teacher who authored the other article cited – see what introverts have to offer. As the research Mr. Rauch cites seems to indicate, introverts are, in general: “more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts…it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking…”

Certainly many parents can relate to the “think before you speak” rule. But most people do most of their thinking out loud. And those who don’t – those introverts who are busy processing information internally, are often being admonished to “speak up.”

What does all of this have to do with school? When looking at whether a particular learning environment will work for your child, you might look to your child’s temperament for a clue, and see if the school culture and classroom climate address these concerns. Does the school gradually build each student’s skills in public speaking, for example? There are schools that very deliberatively work on this skill, from Kindergarten on; whereas others don’t focus on speaking in groups at all. What is your child’s comfort zone, and what does your child need? Taking “extroversion” and “introversion” into account when looking at schools may help you answer that question.


1. An Evening with Dr. Harley Rotbart – Free
Tuesday, February 19th at 7pm, Westland School, 16200 Mulholland Dr. in Los Angeles, 90049
Author of No Regrets Parenting, Dr. Harley Rotbart is a nationally renowned parenting expert, educator, pediatrician, and author. Learn how to make time with your kids more meaningful and memorable! A Q&A and book signing will follow. RSVP to westlandschoolparented

Speech & Language Panel

An Informative Evening of Discussion Featuring Experts

Farryl Dickter
Debra Posner
Roberta Poster
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Westmark School
Lund Auditorium
5461 Louise Avenue
Encino, CA 91316

RSVP to Naomi Austin

3. The Importance of Play in Early Childhood

Tuesday, February 19th • 7pm to 9pm
Westchester Parents’ Nursery School
7300 Manchester Avenue, Westchester, CA 90045
WPNS Members free, Guests $10 donation recommended
For more information: 310 670-5522

Workshop Overview:

Westchester Parents’ Nursery School presents an evening with Marni Parsons, Bright Star School’s Director of Student Services, a PCI Certified Parent Coach®, Certified Positive Discipline Parent and Classroom Educator & Family Consultant. In this workshop parents will learn about the different types of play and how it affects learning and executive function in young children.

Until next time,
Sandy Eiges
Sandy Eiges, M.S.W.
L.A. School Scout

"The panic that had gripped me subsided the instant that Sandy was on my team…getting my boy into a wonderful preschool…Sandy is now working with me on K and elementary for my son. THERE IS NO REASON TO DO IT WITHOUT HER!!" – Jill D., April 2009

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"Three years ago, we found ourselves without a kindergarten spot for our son, despite the fact that we had spent the last year devoting ourselves to the task of kindergarten admissions. Sandy helped us find a spot for our son at a great school, and guided us through the process of eventually switching to our "first choice". This can unfold over years, unfortunately. Sandy was there for us through the whole thing, a down-to-earth advisor in this super-crazy world of Los Angeles school admissions." – Stephanie T., September 2012.

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