How Can I Help a Loner Student?

As a teacher, you may notice one or two students who tend to keep to themselves and do not readily engage with their classmates. These loner students may struggle to make friends or feel shy and uncomfortable in social situations at school. While respecting their need for solitude, there are several supportive steps you can take to help loner students come out of their shells.

Get to know them

Make an effort to learn about the loner student’s interests, strengths, and personality traits. Greet them by name and chat with them one-on-one about casual topics they enjoy. Don’t force them to open up, but let them know you care and are available to talk. Even small gestures like these can help a shy student feel acknowledged.

Help facilitate friendships

Look for opportunities to pair the loner student up with peers who share similar interests or complimentary personalities. Assign group projects that give them a chance to interact. Introduce them to potential friends you think they might click with. But don’t push too hard or force unwanted friendships. Let relationships develop organically.

Give them space

While it’s important to be supportive, also recognize that some students genuinely prefer solitude. Don’t reprimand or punish them for wanting to be alone. Respect their introverted temperament while also encouraging healthy socialization when appropriate.

Watch for signs of bullying

Loners’ isolation makes them vulnerable to bullying. Pay attention to possible signs like reluctance to come to school, dropping grades, or avoidance of spaces where bullying occurs. Listen sensitively and assure them you will help.

Build on their strengths

Notice what the loner student excels at and leverage those talents. Give them leadership roles like running an activity station that matches their skills. Assign special jobs that make them feel valued. Provide authentic praise.

Check on their wellbeing

Politely ask how they are adjusting to school. Listen without judgment and offer counselling referrals if appropriate. Report any self-harm or suicidal statements so the student gets help. Loneliness can contribute to anxiety and depression.

Meet with the parent(s)

Share your observations and strategies for helping the loner student socially thrive. Get the parents’ input and discuss how they can reinforce the efforts at home. Having school and family aligned is key.

With sensitivity and patience, teachers can make a big difference helping loner students feel happier and more connected at school. Simple efforts to know them, connect them with peers, and boost their confidence go a long way. Meet them where they’re at, and don’t try to force sociability. Building trust and community is key.