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Super-Shy Preschoolers Might Struggle Academically
Date:9/7/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- A little shyness in young children can be endearing. But new research suggests that preschoolers who are extremely socially reserved and withdrawn may be at risk for falling behind in math and reading when they start kindergarten.

The study, published online recently in the Journal of School Psychology, suggests that super-shy kids may be at more risk than their active, overactive and outgoing peers. Children showing shy and withdrawn behavior early in the school year began with lower academic skills than other students and showed the slowest gains in learning skills over time.

Shy kids may fall into the background of the average preschool classroom, making it more likely teachers will fail to identify their unique learning needs, said study author Rebecca Bulotsky-Shearer, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Miami. "Engagement is important in learning, especially in early childhood education. If there is a child who needs that extra support and is being missed, it's easier to fall behind the others," she explained.

The research suggests that feeling withdrawn may trigger a cascade of learning problems in the preschooler. "There may be different learning trajectories for kids if they are shy," Bulotsky-Shearer said.

For some children, the shyness may be a sign of another problem causing the inability to get actively involved in classroom activities with other children. "Some shyness is unhealthy, creating a high degree of anxiety," she said.

The study looked at the social and academic progress of children aged 3 to 5 throughout the school year, following over 4,400 pre-kindergarten children in the Head Start program in a large northeastern urban school district. The majority of participants were black (71 percent), with the remaining children Hispanic (16 percent), white (7 percent) and Asia
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