TDA 3.1 Communication and professional relationships with children, young people and adults.
Effective communication is very important. Communication is a two-way exchange of information. It is important because it prevents misunderstandings and ensures that both parties understand the information being exchanged. It helps develop positive relationships with children which then allows them to engage and participate in the learning environment.
Positive relationships don’t just happen, they must be built. To communicate effectively you must think about the way you relate to others.
Communication is more than just the words we speak. There ae other forms of communication which will often say as much or maybe even more than the works we say. One form is nonverbal communication. We are often the least aware of this and yet it speaks the loudest. The main forms of nonverbal communication are body language, facial expressions, gestures and posture.
For instance, a child shows you a piece of work they have put a lot of effort into. Your response is ‘Well done Billy, that is great!’, however, you don’t make eye contact and show little interest in the work Billy has done. Instead of Billy feeling accomplished he now is filled with doubt.
Making eye contact, repeating words and phrases shows that you are engaged and are clear of what is being said. Listening is a skill and require self-control. Active listening means you must pay attention to what is being said and follow it closely. Maintaining open body language and making eye contact ensures that the speaker know you’re listening appropriately.
It is important to remember that some cultures have differing views on the norms of what is offensive or polite. Therefore, you should always try to be aware of what is culturally acceptable behaviour. For example, if eye contact is not an acceptable norm do not keep trying to do this.
It is also important to be aware of language barriers. You could use nonverbal types of communication to ensure they understand you, such as imagery.
The use of appropriate language should always be considered. If you are in a meeting with parents/carers or other professional then a formal tone would be expected, as opposed to speaking with a child in a classroom setting when you would be able to use a more informal tone.
Children learn how to communicate by watching other and the responses they receive. Role modelling effective communication allows them the opportunity to develop their skills in expressing their thoughts and opinions. This again needs active listening skills, just saying you are listening is not enough, you must show you are interested and give them full attention. Positive body language and facial expressions shows them you are approachable. Question them further to show you have a genuine interest in what they have to say.
EAL children may have more difficulty in communicating. Therefore, you should give them plenty of time to speak and not make them feel under pressure in responding. Other children may lack confidence. Gently try to prompt children giving them the choice to join in discussions. The use of open ended questions or taking turns when children are speaking and listening. The child’s age and developmental stage will influence how successful these strategies are.
Adapting the vocabulary we use, and the way we respond to children helps develop positive relationships. For instance, you would use more ‘grown up’ vocabulary with an older child so as not to offend them in to thinking you are speaking or treating them ‘like a child’.
Adults may also have differing communication needs and you must adapt the way we communicate to accommodate this. Somebody with a hearing impairment would require eye contact and for you to maintain facing them as they may need to lip read as you speak. Enhance gestures by using your hands. Writing down important information so they read it or take it away for later use.
For someone with a visual impairment, large type or braille allows them access to written material. As a parent/carer speaking to them directly gives them an opportunity to respond which maybe missed.