Are modern children losing the art of conversation? Are they too distracted to listen? Are they able to listen to an opinion and then give their own, or have they lost key skills through too much time on computer games and devices?
Communication skills are an essential part of learning. Reading and writing are vital to your child’s education but developing their verbal language skills will also boost their confidence with words and expand their vocabulary.
The exponential growth of technology offers exciting learning opportunities and improved communication tools, but devices can also be an unwelcome distraction.
Children are ‘hardwired’ from birth to develop the key skills of communication, however in today’s busy world we do need to put additional focus on ensuring that children get as many opportunities as possible to develop these vital skills in amongst all the other exciting activities they do.
The way your child speaks, and listens makes a big difference to their chance of success from a very early age. You can help them learn to communicate effortlessly and with confidence with the following five simple tips.
- Create the right speaking and listening environment
Children require a quiet environment to listen and learn in. Have times during the day when you block out all background noise, and always do this when engaging in a specific activity with your child, such as reading, helping with homework or playing a game.
Having television time is ok, however research shows that for children to listen and learn from the television, adults need to view it with them and ignite conversations.
- Comment more, question less
We are naturally keen to lead conversations and test our children’s knowledge, however research highlights that frequent questions and command giving has been linked to delays in children’s language development.
We all instinctively ask questions, however if we do it too often it can have a negative effect. Try opening a conversation with a comment such as ‘Look, it’s a dog’ as oppose to asking, ‘What’s that?’ And see your child responds.
- Use open-ended questions
Research into the use of open-ended questions with school children, that start with, ‘What could we do….?’, ‘Can you find a way to…..?’ has shown to support learning and develop creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Open ended questions are therefore better to enhance communication skills in children as opposed to closed questions such as, ‘What is the capital of England?’ which requires a one-word answer only.
- Give children time to answer a question
Children often need extra time to understand a question and formulate their answer. Instead of interjecting to help them answer, count to 10, and wait to see if your child answers. You will be surprised by the results.
- Have fun with words!
A child’s vocabulary is essential to their learning. Research shows that vocabulary size at five years of age has links to later successes, such as literacy skills and academic achievement.
When reading or talking with your child, check word understanding and support word learning by talking about word meaning and sounds. Try writing words on a dry wipe magnetic Kids Whiteboard or form words using magnetic letters. This will help your child to learn and recall the words. Ask about rhyming words, syllable number, what you do with the word, where you find it etc.
We would love to hear about how you enhance your child’s communication skills, please feel free to leave us a comment.
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