Thursday, January 31, 2013
Focus on Communication
I started off raising Josh (8y) authoritarian style, and I started off raising Bug (23m) radical unschooler- style. My experience with each is vastly different. I'm realizing a huge mistake I made during Josh's younger years (okay, several mistakes, but let's only focus on one at a time). I didn't focus nearly enough on teaching him communication skills. I focused more on teaching him things like... the alphabet, how to count, his colors, you know- things that are "important". I've since realized those things are not nearly as important as I thought. Now, with Bug, I'm focusing so much more on communication skills. Whenever I talk to him I make sure we are at eye level together. Either I pick him up to see me, or I kneel down to see him, so he can see my mouth while I talk. I speak slightly more slowly than normal, and I focus on using clear diction. Papa often makes fun of me for over enunciating words like wa-Ter. I make one statement and wait for him to process it and respond. I can see in his facial expressions, all the synapses firing in his brain while he mulls my words over, giving them meaning, remembering the last time he heard them, etc. It drives me batty when people talk to him quickly or repeat themselves incessantly when speaking to him. "Hey Bug, do you see this blue block? This is blue! This block is blue. Do you know what color it is? Its blue! Can you say blue?" How is anyone supposed to learn a language that way? I know every kid is different. Maybe Bug is just more wired for verbal skills, maybe its the way we're working with him, but he has fabulous diction for an almost 2 year old. He can clearly tell us when he's sleepy, hungry, thirsty, or wet. He says please, thank you, and you're welcome without ever having been asked to. His "terrible two's" are almost upon us, and we are yet to have any sort of melt down or temper tantrum. I firmly believe those sorts of emotional melt downs are a result of a child's inability to communicate or caregiver's neglect of meeting said child's needs. Whether you plan to unschool your child or not, my suggestion is to focus on teaching communication first and foremost. Be present when they are infants, learn their cues. Teach them sign language. Speak to them often, slowly, clearly. Teach them the back-and-forth of conversation by pausing to let them respond. Lay a foundation of good communication skills now for their future. It will help avoid so much conflict in the future, and be such a benefit for them in their adult years.See More "