The importance of Communication Skills for Children
When it comes to teaching communication skills for children, we often overlook the importance of teaching them effective public speaking skills. It’s easy to view a child’s compliance and willingness to listen or obey as the most valuable, but this doesn’t encourage our children to become leaders. It’s never too early to begin teaching communication skills to children. Teaching children how to speak publicly can be extremely beneficial for a number of reasons:
1. It may help them land better jobs as adults.
If a child grows up feeling comfortable with the idea of speaking in front of a group, they’re much more likely to be able to transfer that skill when they grow up. Adults who are comfortable speaking publicly are more likely to be successful in business settings, as well as being successful leaders, teachers and even entertainers.
2. They are likely to adapt better than adults.
It’s often said that children’s minds are like sponges – they take in information so much more quickly and effectively than adults. We as adults tend to avoid things that we’re not experienced with, because we’re uncomfortable with the unknown. When it comes to children, however, that self-conscious inhibition is not there, and so they learn through a simple process of trial and error. The earlier we teach our children to speak publicly, the quicker they’ll learn other soft skills like problem solving, empathy, leadership skills and being a team player.
3. It can increase their communication skills across the board.
If a child is confident enough to stand up in front of a group of people and speak, they’re much more likely to be good communicators one-to-one. Practising debates, making points articulately and expressing feelings regularly in the home is an excellent way of setting your child up for the progression of this skill.
4. It increases resilience and encourages children to power through.
If a child is regularly encouraged to sit with the discomfort they feel at the prospect of speaking in front of their class, it’s likely that they’ll do much better in other uncomfortable situations in the future. Rather than allowing a child to avoid certain daunting tasks, by encouraging your child to push through these feelings, you are promoting the idea that overcoming fear is positive, even though it might be scary.
5. It gives them experience in planning ahead.
If a child attempts to stand up and speak publicly about a topic they haven’t prepared for, they will quickly learn that it feels uncomfortable and probably won’t go very well. The next time they enter into this situation, they’re more likely to want to feel prepared, which ties in with the all-important skill of planning ahead and being organised. Encouraging children to make notes about what they’re going to say, planning a theme, or practising their speech are all great ways to show them that being organised usually results in successful speeches and conversations.
The skill of public speaking is extremely valuable within a lot of professions, and, while rarely taught in a traditional school setting, it is certainly worth encouraging and exploring with your child. It’s also important to remember that some children will take to it naturally, whereas others may struggle and need more help.
It’s our job as adults, parents, and teachers to remember that each child learns differently, and each child may require a different approach when working on this skill. Children learn by watching us, so by communicating what we want to teach them effectively, we’re showing them how conversations should be had, how stories should be told and how points should be made.
If you would like some help teaching communication skills for children, take a look at my workshops and online courses for public speaking here.