Whatever your children want to do in life, good communication skills can help them be mores successful! Be it as large scale as pursuing a certain career, or something smaller like explaining a need for assistance, they will need to express themselves in an appropriate and effective manner. In this article, we will discuss the basic communication skills. Then we will cover how to teach communication skills for kids. With so many fun methods for teaching communication skills, you can pick the best ones for your child. The ability to communicate clearly is essential to helping kids and adults get along in the world socially and professionally.
Teaching Communication Skills For Children
Communication is a realm of children’s education that we parents often overlook, largely because we are still learning to master it ourselves! Communication skills are often thought of as a non-technical or soft skill. Because of this, many people feel it doesn’t require proactive attention like math or reading.
With the way we communicate so rapidly changing due to disruptive technology altering the way we live our lives, communication skills are more important than ever. However, the increase in screen time often lowers our children’s exposure to good communication skills. Thus parents need to pay more attention to ensure their children are having plenty of face-to-face interaction. Kids need to be rooted in the basics of competent good communication skills through exposure to these skills in real life situations.
Types Of Communication Skills For Kids
According to the University of New Mexico, there are 5 essential communication skills that “help you to receive and convey information, ideas and messages in ways that are powerful and appropriate to the situation.”
- Oral Communication. Spoken language is the most commonly thought of form of communication.
- Non-Verbal Communication. While this one is almost reflexive for many, it is an extremely important tool to use. In this way, we can show that we are friendly and receptive or upset and confused. Likewise, we can use it as a clue for how others are responding to the way we are communicating.
- Active Listening. If you are thinking that you or your child are a very good listener, great! That is half-way to active listening which involves not only listening but then summarizing that information back to confirm understanding.
- Contextual Communication. Learning communicate in different context. The way we speak to our teacher may need to be different from the way we speak to our classmates.
- Written Communication. Obviously this is a skill for older children to begin to work on and continue improving.
Younger children will be learning primarily oral communication and non-verbal communication. As they get a little older they will begin to process contextual communication clues and become active listeners. Some children pick up these skills quickly and naturally from observation. Other children will need them explained and will benefit from role playing and talking through various scenarios. Written communication is a life long skill we can always work on improving the more we practice it.
Being clear and concise, active listening, body language, and tone of voice are all learned skills. Don’t worry. There are lots of fun ways to boost your child’s communication skills.
Fun Activities To Improve Communication Skills
Here are several fun ways of boosting your child’s capabilities and teaching children communication skills at the same time.
Join The Scouts
There is more to communication than simply writing, speaking and listening well. It is important to be able to work well with others; trusting, supporting and understanding them. Participating in friendly yet challenging activities such as those provided by Daisy Scouts can open up your child’s emotional intelligence and awareness to other’s needs. As they learn new scouting skills, they will also learn new words and have a larger vocabulary to communicate with.
Public Speaking Activities
Start off with public speaking games in the home which improve your child’s listening and speaking skills such the old classic “telephone” and telling stories. Progress to short speeches to be delivered in the home. When you feel they are ready enroll them in a local junior public speaking club if available. There are various resources available online to facilitate your child’s public speaking activities such as speech templates, online competitions and general advice.
Communication is as much physical as it is verbal. Things such as spatial awareness and body language are often intuitive and difficult to teach. However, drama games or even enrolling your child in a theatre group can enhance intuitiveness as well as developing essential skills for presentations such as vocal projection.
Learning A Musical Instrument
This one may not be so obvious. When learning a musical instrument your child will be practicing and honing their ability to listen and take instruction. According to Professor Nina Kraus, it can also help him or her better appreciate slight differences in verbal tone which can change the meaning of statements completely.
This fun game can be adapted in many ways to suit the age of the child. Young children can be encouraged to draw you a picture and explain the picture in detail. You can help prompt this process, if needed, by asking open-ended questions about you is in the picture and what they are doing. Ask kids about the facial expressions of the people in the picture, how they are feeling and why. Have them describe the colors they chose and why.
You can also provide a picture to an older child ask them to tell you a story using the image is a starting place and fleshing it out with their imagination. This really encourages a child’s communication skills to grow and develop as they have to think of ways to describe things and explain things. This exercise not only improves language skills but also helps develop logical sequence and reasoning skills.
You and your children can practice conflict resolution through games of court. When my kids were around 8 and 10 they often liked to be lawyers for the stuffed animals and argue out silly things in “court”. They sometimes asked me to be the judge. They would each present their sides and I would ask questions to help them defend their clients. Then when I had heard all of the information, I would demonstrate my active listening skills by repeating back to them what I heard and stating my conclusion. This is a great way to allow them to improve their verbal communication skills as they learn to present important information. We also role model having good eye contact and asking follow-up questions to clarify information.
Helping a child to become a good communicator does not need to be a difficult or daunting challenge. The benefits of effective communication skills will slowly become visible to you as your child grows. When you see them in social situations and realize that they are good listeners with excellent interpersonal skills, you will swell with pride. Teaching kids communication skills will also be rewarding to you as a parent who reaps the benefits of a child who knows how to tell you what they are feeling.
The importance of communication skills is high for kids of all age groups. Being able to explain what you are feeling or what you want is as important to a toddler having a tantrum as it is to a teenager applying for a job. We all have to be able to communicate in order to have a meaningful exchange of information and maintain healthy relationships.