Being at home offers new opportunities for young people to practice communication. They are using virtual platforms more: social media, emails, video calls with their teachers and friends.
It is important to continue to support children in their internet endeavours and teach them how to communicate properly both in person and through virtual means. As part of our Home Grown Skills activities, below are some additional ways you can help your child to develop their communication skills at home.
Anything posted online can be a permanent record of how someone behaves. Even when deleted, one can never be sure of who saw it. Young people should be reminded to stay kind, even when others have not. This can be a hard thing to follow for anyone. Suggest your child asks themselves these three questions before posting something online:
Would you say what you are posting if the person you are replying to was standing in front of you? - being separated makes it easier to say things that we don’t really mean.
Would you be happy for your parents or future employers to see these comments? - If your post is inappropriate to be seen by your parents or employers, it’s not probably something you should post or say.
How are you feeling? - if you’re upset, emotional, or angry, you are not feeling your best self. Take your time to relax and then come back to it in an hour and reply with a clearer mind.
With these guidelines in place, we can support young people to avoid diving into the dangers of the internet.
Active listening is giving a speaker your full attention and understanding the complete message that is being communicated. There are a few activities you can do with your child to practice this skill.
Draw my directions: Think of an object or image and give your child instructions to draw this, without revealing what it is. Once they have finished drawing, tell them what you wanted them to draw. See how close they are to drawing the image you were expecting.
Guess the object: This game is best with three or more people. Find a cardboard box and cut a hole in its side. Ask your child to secretly place an object in the box. Then ask them to reach into the hole and describe the object they are touching out loud, without revealing what it is. Get the rest of your family to guess what the object is. The first to guess gets to choose a new object to put in the box and take a turn describing it.This game encourages taking turns and delayed gratification, as well as good communication skills to describe objects well.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Having empathy allows you to connect more with people and make more ethical choices. To help your child understand empathy, you can teach them about emotions.
Try the Tone Game with your child - you can download the activity sheet here (communication activity sheet 1).
Be transparent with emotions - we all feel many different emotions each day. Try to recognise and explain these to your child. During everyday activities, call out the emotions that you feel. For example, you could say, “the person on the television made me happy because he said a joke”. Recognising not just the emotion, but the explanation behind it will help your child to be more aware of people’s emotions and feelings.
Reading allows young people to see the different ways people share stories by recognising new vocabulary, various tones, and writing styles. Your child is more likely to be motivated to read if they can choose a book on a topic they like - there’s a book to suit every reader!
In this way, they can further nurture that interest by learning more about that topic and improving their communication skills.
Gather some reading materials (books, magazines, comics) - ask your child to make a list of areas they are interested in. Together you can search for books and reading materials that match your child’s interests.
Start an online Book Club with family or friends - pick a different book to read each week or month, and then get together to discuss online. You might like to suggest some questions or discussion points to get them started!
The National Literacy Trust have compiled a list of activities to to keep your child busy at home, whilst also benefiting their reading, writing and language development: https://literacytrust.org.uk/family-zone/.
This could be beneficial for older children who are thinking about future interviews, or younger children who feel nervous about talking to someone. Before starting this activity, it might be useful to explore your child’s strengths.
Do a practice interview - Set a date for your mock interview and give your child 10 possible questions that the interviewer might ask so they can prepare their responses in advance. Try and tailor the questions towards a specific job your child might be interested in. Ask your child to dress up the way they would when attending an interview. Give them the real interview experience - shake their hand when they come in and offer them a glass of water!
After the interview, provide them with some positive feedback and recognise their strengths.
Communication is an essential life skill to develop, and can be practiced in many ways. We hope these activities have given you some inspiration to develop communicaiton skills at home. Please let us know how you get on using the #HomeGrownSkills on social media.
For more resources, please visit https://www.yesfutures.org/resources-for-parents