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Communication: The Third Essential Life Skill

During the past two weeks, I have written about two of seven of Galinsky’s Essential Life Skills. The third Life Skill is communicating. “Communicating is much more than understanding language, speaking, reading and writing —it is the skill of determining what one wants to communicate and realizing how our communications will be understood by others,” Galinsky writes.

Learning to communicate well takes a lifetime to master. The beginning, foundational components of this are learned as soon as a child is born. The cadence of language and communication is learned by the actual dance of adult and child communication.

Research has shown that children will acquire an extensive vocabulary, communication strategies and the ability to read body language when adults are active, engaged communication partners. This suggests that there should be designated times when digital devices are put away. Rather than enjoying an app together, experts recommend that children and adults integrate the following activities into their daily interactions:

  • Sing songs

  • Read stories

  • Write their own stories (children can dictate their ideas to the adult)

  • Act out invented or actual stories

  • Use scientific inquiry as way to investigate how things work. Ask each other, “I wonder what would happen when. . . .” Try to find out the answer to your questions. Ask more questions as you test your theories and observations

  • Talk, just talk, about whatever idea presents itself in the adult or child’s stream of consciousness

When adults mindfully eliminate external distractions, they have the opportunity to be a communication partner and thereby teach how to communicate.

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