Our world is drastically different than when I was growing up. It seems to me that we're always in touch with each other. That's a good thing for people like me who always seem to be on the go - I can keep things moving from my cell phone and tablet. I even find that my airport layovers can be some of the most productive and uninterrupted work periods - something that my parents never would have been able to say. Since I'm usually flying and driving between events all about education, I can't help but spend some time thinking about what the future holds for education and technology and how some of the basic skills we teach children will always be needed- and that includes communications skills. Here's how we can make sure that our next generation can communicate effectively:
Correct pronunciation, don't mimic. Kids say some pretty cute things, most especially when they mispronounce things. It's very tempting to perpetuate these bad habits if they're funny but we should also teach our kids to speak properly and save them embarrassment when they're older and realize they've been making mistakes all along. I was recently looking at a job search section and found that pretty much every job across all industries, no matter the experience level, listed "excellent verbal communication skills" as one of the desired qualities for applicants. Instilling in young people the ability to speak clearly and to be understood by everyone is one of the best ways you can help them secure a better future.
Encourage them to express themselves. This would be taking the last point to the next level. By engaging your children in conversation can help them express ideas, thoughts and beliefs like nothing else could possibly do. The best way to get to this result is to ask them pointed questions: "How does that make you feel?" or "Why are you happy?" or "What is making you cry?" This will help them express complex things and help them create processes to solve problems and create solutions. The hope is that this will help them communicate with others outside of the home. It's important that you give younger children very clear requests for information and ask clearly what they're feeling or wanting. Another great thing to do is to have the young people in your life tell stories- about their experiences, their perspectives. It will help them develop sentence structure, think about the past, present and future and help build their abilities to speak publicly.
Let them see you communicate effectively. We all like to learn by seeing and then doing and that's especially true for children. They are always looking to us for tips and guidance on how to do everything. The best thing we can do is interact with others in a way we would want our children to interact with others. As with so much else, a lot of this depends on you- so think about how you communicate with others- family members, loved ones, strangers and try and model behavior that your children can take on as their own. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it.
I always love hearing from parents or teachers that their children "sound much older than they really are" or that "their child is very advanced." I love when parents take pride in their young people and I love hearing that they can speak and engage with adults verbally. That's so important to our future- so much will depend on our abilities to engage with each other, even if technology, handheld devices and keyboards will make it seemingly less personal, speaking and writing are still at the heart of so much of what we do in our personal and professional relationships. If you want to unlock the greatness on the inside of your child, help them develop their communications skills.