I have moved our family to Canada. My youngest son, who is in Grade Three, has always been a good student. Unfortunately his teacher feels he is too quiet and does not participate in the discussions in class. What can I do to help him? What should I tell the teacher? Education consultant Florence Robertson replies: It is important that you have a meeting with your son's teacher. Explain that your son has always been a good student but there was not the same emphasis on participating in class discussions. Point out that in his previous school students were expected to do their work quietly and answer the teacher's questions. Make it clear that there were no classroom activities involving student discussions. Indicate to the teacher that you want your son to participate in the class discussions and that you will encourage him to do so. Ask the teacher to suggest what you can do to help your son participate more actively in class. Accept the teacher's recommendations and propose that you will check regularly to find out if your son is participating more. Try to find out what is preventing your son from participating in the discussions. He may feel timid to voice his opinions since he has not had such opportunities in his former school. He may feel intimidated by others who readily join in the discussion. The teacher may not have thought it was necessary to explain to students the importance of joining in the class discussions since the majority of the students will have had such activities in their previous classes. If your son can identify what prevents him from participating in class, try to allay his fears. Explain that you will show him what he needs to do and how easy it is. Play some games with him that involve him answering you. You could ask him to name his favourite story or book. When he does this, ask him why he likes this particular story. Encourage him to give you several reasons for liking the story. Then ask him to name a story that he doesn't like. Invite him to give you reasons for not liking this story. Urge him to give you as many reasons as possible for not liking the story. After that, ask him to pretend that you are in a book store and want to buy one of these books for his cousin or friend. Ask him to pretend that he is the salesperson who will try to convince you to purchase the book he prefers. This process will encourage him to give his views on the books and to participate in a discussion. Be sure to praise him if he has actively participated in giving you his views on both books. Ensure that you make the game fun. Don't make it too long at first. Play this type of game regularly with different topics until you sense that he is learning how to be actively involved in a discussion. You can then check with his teacher to learn whether he is participating more in the class discussions. You will find that if you involve him in discussions at home he will gain the skills and confidence to participate in class discussions.