Communication is a fundamental process that begins when a child is born. It includes how they interact with themselves, others, and their environments, directly impacting their success in all aspects of their academic and social lives. It is vital then that communication skills be an important part of children’s development from the very beginning.
Children need to understand their roles, so they have access to various opportunities that allow for positive reactions from those they are depending on whenever they attempt to express themselves. In this, literacy and communication go hand in hand kids are to have unfettered access to whatever means for their future successes.
Kids with poor communication skills often find it challenging to formulate thoughts into words for explanations or change their speech styles to suit a situation. Language difficulties can also affect literacy levels. Poor language skills in children and young people have an impact on reading and writing that may be long-lasting if left unchecked. Even those children whose language difficulties seem to resolve at a younger age can have literacy difficulties reappear during their teenage years as underlying phonological processing difficulties have an impact on their communication throughout schooling and into adulthood.
Children of any age can develop vocabulary and linguistics issues as they grow older. Language skills like inference, comprehension, and text structure knowledge that are critical to understanding become burdens which later lead to a breakdown not only in school but also in their social lives. The challenge is often related to maneuvering syntax, grammar, semantics, and phrases to convey logical meaning.
Literacy and reading are almost universally considered the most significant indicators of a child’s future success. A lack of these skills negatively impacts a child’s ability to attain success in not just in school but also their interactions with those around them. As a result, these children struggle daily with their issues with literacy and communication. The symptoms of these struggles can manifest in the form of behavior and emotional challenges, disengagement, and mental health problems.
Improve Communication Skills with These Techniques
Luckily, there are steps and methods parents and teachers can take to assist children that have these issues. For children at the beginning or early stages of development, a parent can use the following techniques to improve communication skills.
- Respond to their sounds and looks. Think of a baby as a blank slate. Whatever they do can be reciprocated within their context; if they coo, coo back. Maintain simple conversations that apply to their age. Immediate responses prompt a baby to respond in kind, which already establishes the foundations of communication. Speak to your children in a way that is slightly more advanced than they can respond back. This helps them learn.
- Ensure that they are taught about verbal AND non-verbal communication. Teach kids to use their words and pick up on cues that express information without speaking. For e.g., Illustrate that someone cringing at food may mean they do not like it even though they have not said words to communicate their feelings.
- Support a vocabulary in toddlers. Flashcards can be a very useful tool here. Use a stack of them to guide word recognition and develop this activity into a game to keep their minds interested. Items in a household can also be labeled to help kids develop words appropriate for their ages and reading level.
- Read together. Try to find downtime to engage a child with books. Depending on their age, picture association can help in their understanding of literacy concepts. As the story is being read, ask questions about characters to ensure that comprehension also takes place. This activity becomes more fun when the child plays an active role in selecting the books that will be read.
- Make sure that the language used in commands is appropriate for their age and ability. Moderation is important. Do not overwhelm a child with literacy or communication skills outside their knowledge, as this does more harm than good. Instead, match commands with their capability to understand them. A one-year-old may understand “Get the toy” while a two-year-old understands “Please get the red bag from my room.” It is a gradual process; try not to skip the steps needed for growth. There’s a growth zone where you can increase their knowledge, but overwhelming them with too much can make them confused, angry, and withdrawn.
- Pay attention to how responsive your child is to verbal and visual cues. Often problems like hearing loss, partial or complete deafness, or vision problems can undermine the work you are doing with your child. Getting ears and eyes tested regularly can help you find the tools to help your child. Especially when they are younger, they can’t communicate how they can’t see the words or hear what their teacher is saying like everyone else can. This can be isolating, especially if these problems lead to ridicule or mocking from their peers who may also not understand why your child can or can’t hear or see well enough to answer.
- Parents can manage their interaction opportunities at home for kids older than toddler age and already in the school system, which mirrors what teachers do at school. Allow the children time to process questions and conversations before requiring that they answer the prompts. Parents can also encourage a safe space where their voices are heard and understood. Once children receive praise for asking questions, it enables them to ask more, thus allowing them opportunities to improve communication skills.
- Parents can also investigate specialized literacy programs for their children, like ones that offer Ortan-Gillingham Training methods. These offer components necessary for kids to master read and writing and are often centered around phonetic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, and writing. The programs are often tailored to match the child’s need to improve reading growth and communication capabilities.
Because communication and literacy skills are incredibly vital to children’s development and future success, there are many ways to assist children if they have problems with them. Parents can attempt to take on the task by themselves or with the help of teachers and literacy programs. Either way, the main goal is to address reading and writing issues to help the child overcome and develop positive interactions with school and society and pave the way for their success in their adult lives.
By Reggie Moore
Freelance Writer. Regular guy. Reggie is always looking for Moore to learn about:)