University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Understand How to Communicate with Children, Young People and Adults
The communication skills needed in the setting to allow for diversity and meeting the needs of individuals are verbal and non-verbal. The key non-verbal skill is being an active listener (listening not just hearing) more-so with very young children who are still developing the skill of pronunciation. Listening and showing your understanding and showing you are considerate and care about what they have to say or express is just as important as their understanding of what you have to say to help develop confidence and self-esteem.
In addition using your body to express your interest like getting down to a very young person’s level so you can communicate at their level and having a relax muscle stance to show your confidence and calmness. By using more complex language stages for age and ability you are broadening their vocabulary to enhance their communication development and skills although diversity must still be considered. Using different strategies like paraphrasing, questioning and repeating to clarify understanding as well as using non-verbal communications such as, your silence, eye contact, gestures, nodding and body movement.
The delivery, pitch, tone, volume and rhythm of a voice can be read as indications of what you are trying to communicate and are important feature of language when communicating with children and adults. Creating a positive environment by smiling and using gestures to animated your communication will help to keep pupils interest and the practitioner will be perceived as more friendly and approachable.
You need to take the environment into account e. g. noisy classrooms, the school hall, dining room and playground, always using clear speech and plain language and if you suspect that an individual hasn’t heard you do not shout but approach them, get their attention, before you carry on. The context of the communication will dictate the volume of your voice but it should never progress to shouting as this can be upsetting for some.
The phrase ‘’choose your words carefully’’ should be ingrained in the practitioners mind, try to de-personalise language as in a class or group there will be pupils with every kind of background and family setting e. g. ‘’ the whole class are going to make Mother’s day cards for their Mam’s, this activity’’ it could be that some of the pupils are not cared-for by their mothers for varying reasons, social and cultural difference need to be considered when choosing your words.
Context can also mean the ‘history’ of behaviour as in leg- swinging or fidgeting these body movements could be a trait of a children’s personality and not a sign of dis-interest or boredom, if the movements stop ask yourself ‘’why? ’’. Manage you language to avoid unnecessary conflict this includes embarrassment and any sarcasm. Phrase directions with the positives rather than focus on negative when communicating e. g ‘’hands up for questions’’ rather than ‘’don’t call out’’.
Add humour to then environment, be witty and able to laugh at yourself this can only enhance the learning experience as well as defuse tension. Finding the opportunity to communicate with other professionals within the setting can be harder than you’d think possible so when the opportunity arises, show support, react and comment on what they have to say, show interest and ask questions to maintain the conversation which is true of interacting with any age group. Give adults their own space this is a sign of professional respect.