Developing your child’s communication skills is critically important. Whether it be being able to talk to adults or their peers.
Parents and teachers play a critical role in further strengthening the child’s communication skills at that point. Households with little person-to-person communication while a toddler affects their engagement with the school curriculum. It can also mean it is harder for them to make friends. Communication skills also encompass written forms, such as a letter for a job application.
Importance of Effective Communication for Students
Below we highlight the importance of effective communication for students.
- Boosts collaborative skills. Collaborative learning is part of the curriculum in most schools. Students need to know how to communicate effectively in a group for collaborative learning to be successful. The group needs to ask each other questions, solve problems, share ideas, and learn from each other. Good communication skills allow the child to be part of such a setting. With better communication skills they are more confident and able to put their side of an argument.
- Enriches knowledge. Communication is a pathway to so many areas of life, including knowledge. A child’s communication skills allow them to read and write, ask and answer questions, discuss ideas, and express their problems. Away from the school setting, it also enables the child to interact and better understand the world in general.
- Helps overcome obstacles. Every child encounters a range of problems, both at school and at home. A child with good communication skills will find it easier to express their problems and ask for help. With that help, the child is more likely to overcome the obstacle. The more that happens, the more competent the child becomes. This enables the child to overcome more obstacles independently in the future. We have further articles on helping your child to talk to medical professionals.
- Improves relationships and personal growth. Developing a child’s communication skills can help improve their personal growth and relationship at home and school. The child interacts with classmates, teachers, and friends through effective communication. This allows them to learn from people from different backgrounds and cultures, which builds character, empathy, and a more broad-minded outlook in general.
How to Develop Communication Skills in Children
Now that you’ve seen the importance of effective communication, let’s look at how you can help develop effective communication skills in children as a teacher or parent. Below are a few effective strategies:
- Prioritize talking to your child. Raising your child to communicate well requires a deliberate and consistent effort to talk to the child. Talk to the child every chance you get. You don’t have to schedule a time to talk. You can speak to the child on your way to and from school, during chores, or while watching television. When driving, the radio on is easy, but how about talking about the songs when they are on? You can also make it a habit to explain whatever you’re doing to the child. Whichever time you choose to do it, make sure you introduce new concepts and vocabulary. This broadens the child’s language capacity and arms them with more words to express themself. Here we discuss more how to get your child to talk to you.
- Inspire rather than force speech. Forcing your child or student to talk may work in specific moments but not in the long run. For example, the child will most likely obey when you ask them to say goodbye or thank you to someone. But this may cause the child to withdraw and make them less likely to speak up where they need to. Instead, bait the child into talking by rephrasing to involve them in a way that invites them to complete your statement. For example, you could say, “When we receive gifts, we say…” Alternatively, you could have the child gesture instead. This continues when they get older. I never feel awkward when a friend introduces me to their son and says, “eye contact and handshake.” I appreciate what they are trying to do and then speak to the teenager like a colleague. That child is at an advantage when they go for an interview in a few years as they will have the confidence to have those conversations around the coffee table that make an impression.
- Listen attentively before engaging. Listening is an active part of communication, and you need to model this for your child when they speak to you. For example, most children either talk too quietly or too excitedly. If the child speaks too excitedly, ask them to slow down. Explain that they need to speak with an even tone for people to hear what they’re saying. However, if the child speaks too quietly, let them know that they need to speak up for you to hear them. Otherwise, avoid interrupting the child when they’re talking, even when making speech-related mistakes. Instead, let them finish speaking before you step in to correct them. This also teaches the child to wait their turn during discussions.
- Make the child feel secure and supported. Even adults don’t talk when they don’t feel safe. This is even more so with children. For a child to express themself freely, they need to know that you value their emotions and what they have to say. The child needs to know that they will not be ridiculed or dismissed. So when the child comes to you to relate something excitedly, try not to shoot down their excitement by ignoring them or jumping in straightaway to correct pronunciation or other such errors. Instead, respond immediately, share their excitement, and focus on the child’s current focus. The act of responding quickly and focusing on the child’s current focus is what experts refer to as contingent talk. According to a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, parents who used contingent behaviors on children significantly improved their vocabularies in six months.
- Encourage socialisation. As you develop the child’s communication skills, expose them to social situations as much as possible. In social situations, the child gets to interact with other children. They get to see and hear other children communicate. The child also has a chance to express themself and practice their communication skills, allowing them to gain more confidence.
- Create a physical environment and read interactively. Creating a physical environment is crucial for parents, especially for educators. A physical environment should foster communication. This means that children need to find material that enables communication, problem-solving, and collaboration in a learning environment. A great example would be playing board games. On a journey, buy a magazine or listen to something that can stimulate conversation. Read it with them and ask them “why” questions.
- Use journaling to teach presentations. Presentation is a crucial part of communication. But even for well-adjusted adults, it’s not always easy to write down your ideas and explain them to others. Getting your students to journal teaches them how to coherently capture their thoughts on paper. Then having them present and explain their ideas to others in the classroom does great for their confidence in the long run. Through presentations, students learn the art of standing in front of an audience, retaining their train of thought, and just generally remaining cool.
Final Thoughts on Developing Your Child’s Communication Skills
Whether you’re an educator, a teacher, or a parent, it’s important to note that communication is not just about talking. Effective communication requires verbal, non-verbal, and visual communication. Make sure that you make opportunities for your child to talk to a range of people in a range of situations.