The capacity to communicate is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.

Children who are capable communicators are able to clearly express their needs and wants. They are able to engage with others in a meaningful dialogue. Good communication includes listening, questioning, understanding, and responding to what is being communicated.

Communication is not just about the words that people use, but also the manner of speaking, body language, and the effectiveness with which we listen. Listening with all our senses makes people feel valued and involved. Communication skills include knowledge of verbal etiquette. Social interactions require us to offer an appropriate greeting, respond politely when some asks a question or gives a gift, say “thank you” when someone compliments us, and “please” when we ask someone else to do us a favor.

A Child Shows the Ability to Communicate When…

A Communicative Child Understands These Words…

  • She expresses thoughts clearly.
  • He solicits help from adults when needed.
  • She expresses emotions appropriately.
  • He participates in group activities.
  • She reads and responds to social cues.
  • He uses words to resolve conflict.
  • She answers questions when asked.
  • He offers information during group discussion.
  • She greets peers and adults appropriately.
  • Communicate
  • Contribute
  • Describe
  • Expand
  • Express
  • Feelings
  • Information
  • Help
  • Read
  • Share
  • Talk
  • Trust
  • Write

What You Can Do to Boost a Child’s Communication Skills

Talk about Communication

  • Discuss and demonstrate how directions can be unclear when the speaker doesn’t provide enough information.
  • Talk about manners.
  • Read books with a communication theme.

Model Communication

  • Use proper grammar
  • Model verbal etiquette
  • Introduce interesting words, such as “peculiar,” “spectacular,” “absurd,” “rhombus,” and so on.
  • Use complete sentences and expect children to do the same.
  • Use descriptive vocabulary.
  • Be “fully” present.

Practice Communication

  • Build trust using words such as “we,” “us,” “sharing,” and “caring”.
  • Help children fall in love with language.
  • Listen with interest.
  • Expand children’s vocabulary.
  • Encourage appropriate language.
  • Use sign language as a bridge to oral language.
  • Teach children the purposes of written communication.
  • Practice conversation.

Acknowledge Communication

  • Comment on children’s ability to communicate their ideas clearly.
  • When the child learns a new vocabulary word, write it down and ask the child to say what the word means.
  • Pair children with mature language skills with those whose skills are less advanced.
  • Celebrate as children extend their language capabilities.

Reflect on Communication

  • Ask children questions that encourage them to think about communication skills.

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