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Avatar universal

My daugher won't speak to her teachers

My daughter is in kindergarten and loves it.  She is very social and is friends with everyone in her class.  She loves her teachers but never speaks to them.  If asked a question in a group setting or in a one on one with one of her teachers she refuses to speak.  If something is bothering her, she will not approach any adult for help.  If I send her to school with something to give her teacher, she won't do it.  He grades are suffering because she won't answer questions by her teacher.  She is very outspoken when she is just working with her peers.  She speaks in all her adult relatives.  What can I do to help her speak with adults.
12 Responses
134578 tn?1546634665
Her grades are suffering?  What kind of grades does she get in kindergarten?

Avatar universal
She is graded on so many things.  Mostly letters, numbers, counting, letter sounds, reading, days of the week, that sort of thing.  She does get a report card.  The way they work is 1-proficient.  2-partially proficient. 3- area of concern. Her last report card she did have several 3s.  Her teacher told me she had no way of knowing if she really knew the imformation or not, because she won't answer her when she asks so she gets a 3.  Her teacher fears she will have a hard time adjusting to first grade.  
377493 tn?1356505749
It sounds like she is intimidated.  Is she this way with other adults outside of her parents or family?  I also wonder if maybe when she has spoken up she was not acknowledged or told she was wrong?  Just guessing here, but that might make her afraid to speak up.  
973741 tn?1342346373
Hi.  Is your daughter young for her class?  Does she have a summer birthday?  Is this her first school experience or did she attend preschool?  All of these things can make a difference in how she adjusts to a school setting.  

How has your daughter been in other situations with adults she didn't know well?  How does she get along with your friends or parents of her play mates?  Is this new for her to have this anxiety over speaking to a teacher?

As a child, I was extremely shy (my husband doesn't believe me . . . LOL) and this was an area that we constantly worked on.  When I look back at my Kinder and 1st grade report card, there was constant correspondance about my progress to talk in class.  But I was a shy child over all.  

Does your daughter do the written work in the classroom?  My son is in kindergarten and they have writer's workshop, and math sheets, and all kinds of written things to back up what they are learning.  They do read to the teacher which I guess you are saying your daughter will not do.  Would she read to another child with the teacher conveniently listening?  Oh, and when at home----------- can she do all the material at school with no problem?  

I would volunteer in the class and see what you think is going on.  Always speak highly of school and try not to make her feel funny for not talking which compounds the problem.  She may be anxious and self conscious and you do not want to add to it.  

And if there is a suggestion to repeat kindergarten, it is not an awful thing.  It is the absolute best year to repeat and having her get the right start to her school career is important.  Work with the school to find the best answer.  good luck
Avatar universal
I suspect your daughter suffers from "selective mutism".  It is one of the behaviours of anxiety.  The best site on the internet for information is "selectivemutism.org" where I might suggest you begin by reading the FAQ's.  The fact that your daughter speaks to her peers is very good news - it means her anxiety is not overly severe. By the way, if sm (shortform for selective mutism) is the issue, your daughter is not "refusing" to speak; she is "unable" to speak due to her perceived unsafe and uncomfortable environment.  

At this point, the best thing that you can do is educate yourself on this disorder and then be patient with your daughter (but don't get into the habit of coddling her or covering for her).  One of the best books you can get to help your teacher (as well as yourself) understand this disorder is "The Ideal Classroom Setting for the Selectively Mute Child" by Elisa Shipon-**** (can be purchased on-line, bookstores or borrowed from your public library - maybe the school district would purchase a copy for their professional library).  There are many ways a selectively mute child can be evaluated without speach; the teaching staff just need to be made aware and this book will aid them.  

If you feel that sm might be the issue with your daughter and have any questions, please feel free to write.  All the best ....
134578 tn?1546634665
She might be quite intimidated by all the grading, and the emphasis placed on it.  It could lead to the kind of issues people are writing about.
973741 tn?1342346373
I'm trying to figure this out------------  I doubt she is fully aware of the grading.  That is on the report card sent to parents and no grades are giving-----------  it just shows where a child is at with a skill.  Our school does dv= developing skill, I= independent skill and A= area of concern (which usually means they are working on it.  And rarely is a parent unaware that an A is coming on the report card as they typically communicate that on a regular basis so you can work on the skill that is of concern at home.)  All my son sees are stars on his papers he turns in.  Kindergarten is certainly mostly about "building up" and it is rare for a kindergarten teacher to make a child feel insufficient as they learn.  Kids come in not reading at all and they will show a label to a well known kid thing and the kid recognizes it and the teacher says "SEE!  You CAN read!"  That is a big part of kindergarten as building of self esteem is important at that time----------- it is new for a lot of kids.

The big quesiton is if she can do all the areas that are of concern to the teacher at home.  That is what I would figure out first.  Then addressing why she is no speaking to the teachers.  Does she have an explanation for this?  Is it just in this school/classroom?  What is her history?  

I'm not apt to go straight to an anxiety disorder but she does appear anxious.  Many kids are very quiet in the first year of school particularly if school is a new experience for them or if they are young for their class.  I'd look into all of this first.  Parents need to stay upbeat about school and become very active in the classroom.  Both help.  good luck
Avatar universal
Thanks to everyone for your help.  To answer some of your questions, she isn't unaware of her grading.  She loves school and she knows she is doing great.  She knows the information, as my husband and myself quiz her at home all the time.  She isn't young for a kindergartener, she turned 6 months ago.  When she was in pre-school it took her a long time to warm up.  By her second year she was great with all her peers and her teachers.  She has always been sensitive and shy with new situations and people.  I'm just not understanding why after half a school year she still doesn't speak to her teacher.  It's not just her teacher, its every adult that enters the classroom.  I have visited her classroom and she seems very happy.  She even raised her hand to answer a question, and when called upon, didn't answer.  I will say, when I introduce her to adult friends of mine she won't say hi and sometimes even hides behind me.  I have looked at the selective mute web-site, a lot of similarites, but also a lot that don't fit her at all.  Another note, she takes gymnastics and talks to that teacher as far as I know.  I watch the class.  I will say she is fearful of some things in the class as well and doesn't always participate.
973741 tn?1342346373
Honestly, I was shy like that entering school.  By second grade I had outgrown it.  

I have a son with sensory integration disorder.  We do some summer camps at our occupational therapists building and there has been a couple of times one or two children with various issues including selective mutism.  In both cases, by the end of the session, they made progress.  One thing the OT's do is allow the child to whisper.  They also encouraged things like thumbs up, thumbs down, A OK signs, high fives, etc.  

Would she read to another child while the teacher listened for reading assessments?  Does she talk to all of the other kids?  

If your daughter goes to school in the US, they may begin to ask about evaluating her.  I would go ahead and do this requesting a full evaluation.  They would do an occupational evaluation, speech evaluation, and a psychological evalutation.  This is the first step for them to make some accomodations for her in the class.  Don't be afraid of this as getting help from the school means that your daughter will be able to manage in the classroom better.  

So, these are things to think about.  As I said.  I was a quiet child and was fearful of adults.  I spoke very little no matter how much I was encouraged for a couple of years.  I have been shy my whole life but I learned ways to overcome it and deal with it.  so help her develop her ability to do so as well.  As an adult, I am a bit reserved if I don't know someone but get over it very fast and my career involves meeting strangers and talking on a regular basis.  So, let's see what happens with your daughter.  Keep us posted.  

By the way, is her speech good when she IS talking?
Avatar universal
Yes, she talks to all the kids in her class.  Her teacher said she is often very loud when working with other kids in her class and needs to be reminded to use her indoor voice.   She makes friends very easliy.  If we go to the library or the mall, she talks to almost every kid she meets.  The only time this seems to be an issue is when her teacher speaks to her, or when she is asked to participate in group where her teacher is asking the questions, or when she meets adults she doesn't know.
Avatar universal
The only time this seems to be an issue is when her teacher speaks to her, or when she is asked to participate in group where her teacher is asking the questions, or when she meets adults she doesn't know.  --  your words

I'm glad you wrote the above; it is not selective mutism but is a sign of anxiety or of being anxious or shyness or some might say social phobia (although quite mild).  As you already know, your daughter speaks to those she trusts and is comfortable with.  For some reason, your daughter does not feel comfortable with her teacher.  This may or may not change next year.  I think her not speaking to adults might be something like being afraid of flying; the more exposure to flying one has, the easier it becomes and thus, one learns how to manage and cope in uncomfortable situations.  I'm beginning to think the best thing for your daughter would be for the adults in her life to not draw attention to the fact of "not speaking" and allow her time to "learn" how to function around those she fears or does not trust.  

As for her report card - the school should be able to find other ways to evaluate her although it probably won't totally reflect what your daughter knows until she reaches the higher grades.  One thing you could do is write a response to all of the poor grades on her report card and state what you feel she does know and where you feel the grading has been incorrect and ask that this response be placed in her educational file.  Most school areas allow this practice although many parents are not aware.  Hopefully, your school district does.  If so, you will not be able to change her report card but you will be able to change the information in her "file".  

And as specialmom stated - do not be afraid of testing or accommodations or of an IEP.  All of these things are to help the student learn and most schools are very sensitive and tactful when dealing with these issues.  By the way, there are many, many books on the topic of raising an anxious child - one I particularly like is "Parenting Your Anxious Child" by Katharina Manassis.  All the best ...

189897 tn?1441130118
     By the way, how is her hearing?  You've mentioned one or two things (talking loudly, not answering teacher), that make me wonder.   And where does she sit in the classroom?
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