One thing that I have learned as a parent and a teacher is how important it is to give your child language. And by that I mean the words to say, the knowledge of when to speak, the tones to use, and the confidence to express what they want to say. Speaking up is an art that needs to be learned and sharpened as they grow so it becomes a useful and helpful tool in their belt. It all starts by setting the example and modeling the listening and speaking action to your children. A great age to start….is as soon as possible!
When children are infants it is so important to talk to them. Read to them and emerge them in language. Give them the basics by showing expression when you talk and teaching about tone of voice. Toddlers is great time to continue with tone and introducing how to express emotions and their needs through language. Talk to them about what you need and expect and they will learn to express what they need and expect in that manner. Children learn language and expression of language through repetition and copying what they see and hear from you. With preschoolers you can start teaching about eye contact and taking turns in a conversation.
Improving listening skills and beginning to relate and be empathetic to others through conversation. The best way to teach this is to actually sit down and converse with your child. Ask about their day. Tell them about yours. Share feelings, ideas, and thoughts. Talk about mistakes you both have made and how to correct them. Talk about the successes you had during the day and how all of it makes you feel. Don’t be afraid of big words. Sometimes that is the only way to explain what you are talking about and you will be surprised how easy it becomes for them to understand and expand on their vocabulary. As school-age children, it is just as important to continue these conversations. In doing so it will build their confidence and their sense of worth. Giving them the opportunity to talk about things with you where they are safe and can trust in your support and truth will get the whole family through any situation.
The most important thing about giving children the ability to communicate is that it gives them a platform to advocate for themselves. They can express feelings and needs in a manner so that others can listen and participate with them to find solutions to problems, and find mutual understanding. Starting young gives them the confidence to speak up for themselves and others when they are adults. They learn quickly that their feelings and ideas are just as important as everyone else’s. They learn how to debate, how to argue, how to understand others, and best of all how to communicate in a positive and effective way.
It is so difficult to adjust and learn communication skills when you are an adult. Communication becomes an instinctual skill that you do without thinking about so it is so important that you teach and practice it every day with your children as they grow. As a parent of grown-up children, I feel that it was the best gift I have given them. So are so much better than I and I have seen them succeed in so much because they know how to speak up for themselves and for others.
Lead Pre-Kindergarten Teacher