We live in an era where kids are more connected to their hand held devices and communicate via text messages or Facebook updates instead of the spoken word. As parents, we too have to put down our tablets and smartphones and engage the younger generation. There are plenty of ways to make it fun for all and keep the tradition of communication alive and well.
Some of these ideas are for younger kids. Others will work for pre-teens and teenagers. Whatever you do to remember to keep it fun for everyone involved.
Picture perfect: Show your child a picture and ask them to explain what they see in it. They should be as descriptive as possible, noting shapes, colors and people they see.
Call me, maybe: Who remembers the telephone game? It’s a great way to get kids involved communicating. More importantly it teaches a person how to listen, which is a lost art form as well. If your kids are younger, start with a simple message and add more details over time. Make sure everyone in the family has a part in this exercise.
Map it: Ask your child to write out directions to someplace they enjoy visiting. It can be the park, toy store or ice cream shop. Then give those directions to someone not familiar with the area and have them follow them exactly how the directions are written. If the directions are correct and you arrive at the destination, the child gets a reward. If not, it’s time to review what went wrong and try the game again.
Um contest: Have your child to talk about some of their favorite things, but add this twist. They can’t use words like “um”, “like” or “ya know.” Politely point out when they utter these phrases. This exercise will help to build confidence and develop a better vocabulary.
All dressed up: Everyone gets dressed up for this game. Head to the store or a restaurant and see how people treat the family. Then return home and change into more casual clothes. The messier you look the better. Go back to the same business and note how people treat you all this time. Discuss the reactions with your kids. This teaches a lesson in non-verbal communication.
Finish the story: Start a story and let your child finish it. This not only helps them with their communication skills, it also lets them be creative.
Get emotional: Make cards with different emotions written on them. Then play a game of emotional charades. The child picks a card and acts out the emotion without saying a word. This helps the child with non-verbal skills and lets others learn more about reading facial expressions.
Let me ask you a question: Twenty questions is a great game to teach a child how to ask questions. It’s important to note these are “yes” or “no” questions, but it allows them a chance to get more information about something and think critically to solve the mystery in a limited amount of time.
Feed me more: Blindfold one person and have them feed another blindfolded person. The child involved in the game is the one without a blindfold and is instructing both people how to give and receive the treat.
Show me: Make arrangements for your child to give a presentation on a subject they are familiar with to a local retirement home. It can be a demonstration or simply reciting a poem or short story. This will help them develop their public speaking skills at an early age. You can start small with a presentation for the family after dinner before taking the show on the road.