“Snow, snow go away! Come again on Saturday!” I recently over heard this in a classroom. Certainly feels like we have had enough of the cold weather and were ready for some sunshine!
How we communicate with children and how children learn to communicate is so much more than just words. It is a shared experience where one person speaks, and the other person listens and reads body language. Through active listening you can give your child the message that she is important and that what she has to say is important.
First, you must listen to what she tells you- about her day, what she had to eat, what didn’t work out, what was funny, something new she learned, etc. Then you can ask her questions that encourage her to tell you more. Finally, you must be patient by waiting for her response to your questions. She may have difficulty finding the words she needs.
We’ve all had the experience of talking to a poor listener. Just because they are smaller doesn’t mean that children can be fooled. They know when they are not being heard. When times are busy, schedules must be met, and there’s no time to listen, say so. “I’m sorry Sally but we’re in a rush right now. Let’s remember to talk about this again before bedtime.” And remember to do it. Shared conversations keep the lines of communication open and active.
As part of this open, active listening, be aware of your body language. If your shoulders are turned away, you are not making eye contact, or your head is bowed, that is seen as not listening and instead that you are preoccupied and not engaged. Take the time to orient your body to face your child, make eye contact, bend or squat down so you are on the same eye level, smile and show you are responsive with your face. If you are talking in the car, make sure that your voice tone reflects what you are hearing. Use a warm, calm, engaging voice to encourage your child to tell you more.
This brings me to language modeling and language development. Adults model language when they intentionally encourage, respond to and expand on children’s speech. Strong language modeling also consists of engagement in meaningful conversations between adults and children. That is, adults repeat children’s words in more complex forms and ask follow up questions. Children should be consistently exposed to a variety of language uses and forms, such as requesting, rejecting, commenting, conversing, predicting and affirming.
Children’s language expands when they’re given opportunities to use the language that they know and when adults model more complex language. By hearing various uses and forms of language, children develop new language skills. These language skills are important to children’s academic and social success.
On that note, I want to offer a reminder to please leave cell phones in the car or finish conversations before you come into the building. Drop off and pick up are important parts of the day for your child. It is where your child begins their day and can tell you about what happened during the day. If you are engaged in talking on the phone and not listening to your child talk about their day, they may feel undervalued or that you are not listening. It is very important that we turn our focus to the children during these times. Please finish conversations before you come into the building.
Attached to this newsletter you will find the calendar for the next 2 months. Please make sure you mark your calendars for Friday, March 2nd at 10am for the CIRCUS!
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