AN INTRODUCTION TO COMMUNICATION
Communication is a two way process so when working with children, young people and adults we need to provide a positive atmosphere for them to develop and progress well in whatever they do.
To achieve this we need to express ourselves clearly, be approachable, give good eye contact and learn to use good listening skills. If unsure of something said summarise your conversation to confirm the details. The person you are communicating with will then feel valued, respected and feel you are interested in them. In the long term if the above continues they will build a trusting and mutual relationship with you, where they feel they can talk about anything, be motivated, feel safe and secure in anything they tell you.
When communicating with professionals in school our language and behaviour should be more formal and official, this will become automatic over time. When speaking to parents you need to be aware of our confidentiality policy. Also when communicating with different cultures we need to be aware of our body language and how we speak. Many cultures have views and issues with personal space, hand gestures and eye contact. When communicating with children with a disability using one word commands such as finished work well alongside British Sign Language, and the use of symbols and objects of reference.
There are various skills that may be needed to aid good communication. First we need to understand where a person is from, what their background is and why they may or may not be able to communicate effectively. When you can’t communicate effectively you won’t feel important to the person you are communicating with and this can lead to low self-esteem and feeling unvalued. We as practioner’s can help this situation by doing the following things. Be aware of the child’s level of development, cognitive and language ability. Be clear and careful in any communication to ensure your message has got across and that you have understood the other person correctly. Give praise along with good eye contact, facial expression s and positive body language. Always remember to listen, valuing everything that is said no matter how big or small!!
Communication can be adapted for whoever you are communicating with by doing the following things. Ensure any conversation is appropriate to the person’s age. As a young child more physical contact maybe needed to comfort and reassure, but as they mature this will become less. Adapting your vocabulary is another great way to ensure progression in these areas. Also think about the context, you may not expect a disabled child to grasp what is happening in 6 hours’ time, so using a now and next so they only have to process the next 20 minutes.
The main differences between communicating with an adult and a child are that a child is still developing and may not understand what is being asked of them, so we need to ask the right questions to check their understanding. Also we need to, give good eye contact and body language, along with praise and encouragement. With an adult you use language that is understood, make good eye contact and body language. We need to respect their ideas and avoid judging them on their background. Also ensure you summarise and confirm what you have discussed. This covers adapting your communication to meet all adults’ individual needs.