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Communication FUNdamentals: 10 Fun Ways to Teach Children Effective Communication Skills

JoJo Tabares

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

Communication skills are vital--especially in the information age. Studies show that effective communicators are happier, do better in school, are more successful, and make more money than their less-eloquent counterparts. So how do you teach your children to express themselves better? The FUN way!

The best way to teach children anything is to make it fun and involve as many of their five senses as possible. Here is a list of 10 games/activities that will foster effective communication skills in your children.

1. Play Telephone. The more the merrier. This old elementary school game is a delightfully fun way to develop your child's listening skills. This game is perfect for any age. Begin with a simpler message for the younger children, and gradually increase the size and complexity as they get older.

2. Directions to Fun. Have your older child write out directions from your house to somewhere fun: for example, the ice cream shop. Preferably give the directions to a third party who is unfamiliar with the area, and have him follow the directions precisely. Did you get there? If so, have an ice cream cone! If not, talk about what went wrong in the communication. What could be changed that would help get you there the next time. This is a wonderful exercise to help children from 4th through 12th grade learn to give better directions. But it also is a lesson in itself about communication. In order to effectively communicate what you want, you must learn to say what you mean so that others can fully understand.

3. Dress for Success. Go to the store or any other public place dressed in your Sunday best. Notice how you are treated. Next go to the same store or a similar location dressed shabbily or inappropriately for the occasion. (Ex: to a Mercedes dealership in old jeans and a worn out T-shirt) Notice how differently you are treated. This illustrates that nonverbal communication has consequences. You will want to point out that strange person walking on the street and do a little of what I call “brain washing.” Paint them a picture of the consequences of the communication that is sent when people wear skimpy clothes or dress like hoodlums. Tell them what their choice of clothes is saying to the average person . . . to a prospective employer. Give them the facts on how this will impact their lives a year--two years--ten years down the line. Tell them what could happen tomorrow if someone draws a conclusion based on those clothes that puts them in harm's way.

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