There may be any number of children with difficulty speaking, writing, or handling conflicting viewpoints with others in a classroom. This lack of early learning communication skills can continue to exist in middle school and at the high school levels without intervention, making it difficult to teach and interfering with the learning processes of not just the child affected, but the other students in the classroom.
Such learners cannot be ignored. Teachers and parents must assume the role demanded by the child and gently guide them in the improvement of their communication abilities. We see the potential in the modeling of language, role-playing and involving the parent in the classroom to elicit and develop the communication and language skills of students. Teachers are in the perfect position to create an environment that supports communication skills in learners.
5 Ways to Promote Communication Skills
Teachers can guide the development of communication skills in their learners in the following ways:
1. Encourage the child to initiate and engage in conversation.
Some children may not want to talk at all. This makes it difficult for them to express their feelings appropriately when upset or stressed. Take time out to consistently encourage their involvement in low-stress activities. Initiate and support talks during art activities, when playing games and during paired reading activities. Model phrases that may be useful in terms of the context of a situation. Introduce new concepts and words to a child.
Discuss feelings about events happening to students in the classroom or school. Become a person they can turn to in order to openly share their thoughts without judgment. In this way, you provide the support, opportunities, and scaffolding to build stronger communication skills in your students.
2. Model active listening and reflection.
Show a child that you care about what they feel by listening to what they do say, repeating back part of what was said and then asking a relevant follow-up question. “It sounds like you were really focused on that art project. What did you like most about doing the project? Do you think there might be another project you would like to try?”
Some children prefer to write thoughts down before talking about a situation. Allow them to journal their ideas and feelings and have them share as appropriate. Teachers can then reflect and comment on the entry they share and verbally ask or write down a question in their journal to elicit a deeper and more detailed response.
3. Conference with parents or caregivers.
Show parents where their child needs to be developmentally and provide them with the skills and opportunities to partner with you in helping their child improve their communication skills. Invite them into a class during low-stress group activities and model the type of language and skills desired on a variety of children. They can use this as a learning opportunity as they work on a given project with their child.
A healthy connection and open communication between parent and child form part of the foundation for a child’s language development. Give opportunities to parents to help and support their child in the classroom, on field trips, and during other learning activities. The right tools and support can help parents and children communicate better outside of the classroom too.
4. Role-play in the classroom.
Give children situations to discuss and act out. Situations that may make them nervous, such as lunchtime or issues that may occur while waiting for the bus, may be relevant options. Take turns being different people in the conversation and give time to a child to respond to different statements and think through a scenario. In this way, a child can think through the responses that will assist them in a situation before a stressful event occurs. They will be more prepared to handle the variety of responses that may occur when actually in an anxiety-provoking event.
5. Allow students to share opinions and vote in the classroom.
Ask their opinion on recent school events and relevant happenings. Show them how to use “I think” and “I feel” statements to share their thoughts. Vote on school pets, games to play during a break or a theme for a classroom party. Older children may be able to discuss recent news and world events.
Teachers Make a Difference
Teachers who take steps to improving communication skills can create improved outcomes for impacted students and foster a more open and collaborative learning environment. Give learners the tools they need for a lifetime of learning and exploration.