Building a foundation for school success in young children – Part 7: Communication

Learn how communication can help your child be successful when they are ready for school.

Learning to communicate well is critically important for young children.
Learning to communicate well is critically important for young children.

Pam Schiller’s book, “Seven Skills for School Success,” outlines seven skills that will help parents and early childhood providers build a strong foundation in young children for future success in school. These skills are based on research that shows that social and emotional intelligence are critical skills to develop in young children in order to lay the foundation of later success in school and life. Research has defined seven key elements that help a child be ready to learn that include confidencecuriosityintentionalityself-controlrelatedness, capacity to communicate and cooperativeness. This seventh article in this series will focus on communication.

Learning to communicate well is something that is critically important for young children. As humans, we are made to communicate with others. How well we do it is something we learn as we grow. Communication involves not only speaking but listening, questioning, understanding and responding. It also includes non-verbal cues such as body language, tone of voice and facial expressions.

Helping children learn how to communicate well will allow them to clearly express their needs, wants and emotions and will help them interact successfully with others.

Schiller suggests several ways adults can help children learn to communicate:

  • Model your own communication skills by using correct grammar, saying please and thank you, using complete sentences and talking through situations.
  • Be engaged fully when communicating with your child. Put away the technology and give them your undivided attention when listening or speaking with your child.
  • Use new words often. Introduce new words and explain what they mean to your child. Use them in everyday conversation and sentences.
  • Talk about what you see and describe things in detail. Use lots of descriptive words to help build your child’s vocabulary and help them learn how to describe what they see.
  • Read books that show how to communicate, such as:
  • “Tops and Bottoms” by Janet Stevens
  • “Henny Penny” (multiple versions)
  • “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Suess
  • Have fun with rhyming and use tongue-twisters to help children learn new sounds.
  • Write notes to others and talk about all the ways we communicate, such as written, spoken, sign language, body language, etc.

Helping children learn how to effectively communicate with others will help build a solid foundation for being able to interact with others and communicate what they want and need. For more in-depth ideas on how to help young children relate to others, take a look at the “Seven Skills for School Success” by Pam Schiller. For more ideas about activities and articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

Other articles in this series:

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