Helpful Hints for Communicating with Young Children

With a second lockdown and stay at home advice in our Melbourne suburbs, at Child’s Play ELC we want to keep the lines of communication open between parents, educators and children. Communication is a part of everyday life and with constant disruptions to daily activities, you and your child may be feeling more stressed and vulnerable than before this health pandemic. It is important that we keep communicating and that we keep the lines of communication open to ensure your child’s development is not hindered by these disruptions.

Communication is extremely important to a child’s development because it helps them understand the world around them. Children can communicate through actions, drawings, talking and hand signals and we should continue to promote all forms of communication as they develop. At Child’s Play ELC we have come up with some helpful hints to continue to promote communication at home and discussing difficult topics.

Listen Attentively and Respond Kindly

When your child is communicating, verbally and non-verbally, try to listen attentively. Your child may want to tell you a story about a picture they have drawn, express their concerns or ask about certain activities.  You can show you’re listening by responding with social cues such as nods, smiles and eye contact. These social cues are positive body language and can help children feel welcome and encourage them to communicate further.  When your child is talking, wait until they’re finished to respond, as interruptions can stop their train of thought and they can become flustered. When responding or answering questions, use kind and empathetic language that encourages all communication. At Child’s Play, often we use questions, an excited voice and statements like “Wow that sounds like so much fun” to show our appreciation for their communication.

Using Simple Language and Examples

As many children are still learning English (and potentially other languages) in early childcare, using simple sentences can encourage children to communicate with people around them. As parents and as educators, we can start sentences by talking about our senses, such as “Today I saw a red butterfly” or “Today I listened to some music”. These sentence starters make the conversation relatable to young children because they are often exploring with their senses too. Another easy way to encourage verbal communication with young children is to use examples or tell stories. Using examples or telling stories makes the activity or the event more relatable for children and can help them express their understanding. So telling them stories about your childhood or using examples with their favourite superhero can help them develop communication skills.  So maybe next time you are baking, explain how you used to do this with your parents or when you are playing dress-up comment on how they look like their favourite character.

Let Your Child Control the Conversation

One of the most crucial things to a child’s development is their ability to express themselves. As a parent, you can encourage this by letting them express their feelings, fears, hopes and dreams to you.  Let your child guide you through their understanding and “be in charge” of the conversation. Often they will just want to tell you about their day or about the latest thing they have done. Sometimes children will also use visual aids such as drawings or toys to express themselves or tell their story. By letting them guide you, you can fully understand how they came to their conclusions or why they are excited or might be feeling scared. From there you are able to respond with excitement, understanding or appreciation and continue communicating.

Read Together

Reading is not only a great way to bond with your child but has a significant impact on a child’s cognitive development from a young age. If you read stories to your child at bedtime or after dinner, you are helping them learn new words and often assisting other cognitive skills such as learning to count and memory. Reading helps children make connections and make sense of what happens throughout their day. At Child’s Play ELC, we read books aloud in every room to help children with their speech and pronunciation. This practice, if continued at home, will also prepare children for school.

Bonus Tip: Bend Down or Sit Down with Them

Adults can seem scary to young children because they are so tall. When you are talking with your child try and make them feel as comfortable as possible. One of the ways parents are able to do this is by sitting with them or bending down to their eye level. This way children don’t view you as scary or gigantic and can communicate more freely and openly with you. You might see our educators at Child’s Play are often bent down or sitting on stools to engage in activities with children as we want them to feel as comfortable as possible in our environment and stimulate their learning.

COVID19 Communication Tips

With the introduction of a second lockdown, communication with kids can be difficult. They’re curious and concerned about why they can’t see their friends or play on playground equipment. You might find they have a few more questions than normal, and if they are COVID-19 or lockdown related the Education Minister has released a helpful pamphlet on communicating with all aged kids. But we have also created some quick tips to help you during this period:

Stick to a routine

Come to childcare and go for walks! Create a new normal to reduce the stress and concern that both you and your child might be experiencing. With a routine, you always have something to look forward to or plan for, which will take your mind off the health pandemic.

Promote Hope 

Use friendly terminology, like “Soon we will be able to go to the playground again” and talk about the positives of the day. By promoting that everything is going to be ok, your child is less likely to focus on the things that they have lost.

Break it Down

For older and more curious kids, break down the news and the announcements into more friendly language so that they understand. Helping your child understand what’s going on will reduce feelings of sadness and anger caused by stress.

Find ways to stay connected

Don’t forget about Facetime. If your child is feeling a little lonely set up a virtual playdate, or video call with their grandparents. Or if they are almost at school age, encourage them to draw a picture and introduce the concept of posting letters to people they care about.

What we are doing at Child’s Play

At Child’s Play ELC, we want to keep the lines of communication open with our parents, educators and children and share the kindness. If you haven’t already, make sure to like our Facebook page and download the Kindyhub app for the most up to date information on Child’s Play’s policies and updates on activities in each room. If you need to get in contact with us do not hesitate to call your centre and speak with our educators.