Communication and self-expression is a vital part of a child’s learning experience. To be able to express and communicate thoughts is important for success in all areas of life. The development of effective self-expression and communication requires many skills, including—but not limited to: vocabulary, language skills, speech development, communication skills, writing, math, comprehension, and emotional development.
Here are five techniques you can implement in your classroom to help your students communicate more effectively:
1. Don't speak for your students.
Through my teaching I have become aware of the importance of using words to communicate. In the past, when children would raise their hand and point to a page or problem in a math book; I immediately knew that the child needed help with a math problem. But, I often found myself articulating or expressing the need for them. I would respond by saying: “Do you need help with number three?” or just start explaining number three without requiring the child to communicate the need to me. I soon realized that the children were training me to speak for them.
2. Let students take their time.
As I gave children time to form words in their mind and process words to ask me for help, I noticed how difficult this process was for some students. However, the students that take the longest to form sentences are usually the ones that need the opportunity and time to practice articulating what they want to communicate. These children need extra time to process what it is they want to say. I realized I was not giving these students’ the opportunity to express their needs or thoughts.
3. Use probing questions.
I began to ask questions to get children to articulate their thoughts. Probing questions that might help form their thoughts. “What can I help you with? Is there something that you need? What are you confused about? Why is number three giving you problems? What part do you understand? What part don’t you understand?” Yes and no questions do not encourage students to explain what they need to communicate.
4. Remind students to use their words.
If the child knows that I am going to ask questions about the assignment they soon start forming thoughts to respond to those questions. For example, when they point to the problem and look blankly at me in hopes that I will just understand what they want, I tell them to “use your words.” This has been a helpful cue to get them to expressively communicate their needs. This strategy is especially beneficial with children that are shy and timid. It almost forces them to communicate. Over time the children don’t expect me to “guess” what it is they want.
5. Teach students appropriate responses.
Some children do not know how to express their thoughts. In this scenario I have to teach them what is the appropriate response. I might say “hello” to a child and receive no response in return. This is a learning opportunity for social communication. How do you respond when someone says “hello” to you? It could be practiced through role-play or a social story.
As students become proficient communicators they grow in many areas: self-confidence, writing clarity, reading and math skills, and listening. When children have the ability to express themselves, magic happens.
Pinterest Reference Guide:
Share your story:
What do you do to encourage your students to become effective communicators? Join the conversation by posting your thoughts under the comments section. We'd love to hear from you!