April 10, 2022 by amandaupwork
Communication skills are necessary as part of our everyday lives. We learn about and communicate about and with the world through proper expressions and words. These communication skills are taught at a very early age but begin to be honed and expanded in kindergarten. The worksheets in this section are related to teaching communication skills through recognition and conversation, which is practiced through picture cue cards and discussion. In addition, the worksheets are related to the Common Core standard that states kindergarteners should “Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small or larger groups.”
Communication skills are an important part of child development because teaching effective communication skills helps children to express themselves clearly. In addition, communication skills help children to be able to convey their feelings and emotions in a better manner. Building communication skills over time and practicing can facilitate meaningful information exchanges with others and increase learning. Communicating can boost your child’s social intelligence and help with social interactions at work and play. A child who can communicate effectively often feels more comfortable creating written communication at higher levels. On the opposite end, communication problems can lead to behavioral issues like acting out, which may lead to lower self-esteem.
The majority of children understand that communication involves a sender and a receiver. Kindergarten is a wonderful time and place to begin laying the foundation for proper communication in a larger setting. While children learn some communication skills within a family, not all will translate into the school building or the real world. This lack of skill-building is partly because parents can often anticipate their child’s needs without much verbal communication. In families with older children, an older child may speak for a younger sibling. While being able to anticipate needs without words is not a negative, in the larger world, it is important to have the skill.
As mentioned, children need to understand that a speaker and receiver are necessary, and both hold important jobs. The speaker’s job is to be as clear as possible with the topic being communicated, and the listener or receiver’s job is to listen as well as possible and understand what is said. The receiver must not simply hear the words but properly process the facial expressions and intonation. These skills are often taken for granted, but they must be taught over time. Though the worksheets focus mostly on being the speaker, we must also point out that being a good receiver is about hearing the words and thinking about what is being spoken. This is part of the photo cue cards because children are asked to look at the picture and describe it, encouraging them to think about facial expressions and connect the photo to personal experiences.
The worksheets in this section build upon one another to practice different communication skills. For example, in the first few worksheets, a picture is shown with a very clear emotion shown on the face. Next, the teacher will use communication skills to draw attention to the picture and ask how the person in the picture is feeling. Children will use communication skills, first by listening to the question, thinking about it, and then answering. After receiving an answer, the teacher will further challenge the thinking and communication skills by asking students how they know what the person in the photo is feeling. An example conversation is shared below.
Teacher: How is the girl in this picture feeling?
Student 1: She is sad.
Student 2: She is hurt.
Teacher: Great answers! How do you know she feels hurt or sad?
Student 1 and 2: She is crying.
Teacher: Good job, you noticed the tears. How could we help her not feel sad or hurt?
Student 1: I could give her a hug.
Student 2: I could get her help if she is hurt.
Teacher: You guys are really thinking now. Wonderful ideas! What could you say to her to help her feel better?
Student 1: I could ask her if she wants to play to feel better.
Student 2: I could ask if she needed help to feel better.
Teacher: You guys are doing wonderfully at using your brains to keep the conversation going. Let’s try some more.
Students will have different ideas, but the back and forth that builds on the conversation is important. The first few worksheets focus on recognizing emotions and feelings in pictures. The worksheets continue to build problem-solving skills, which are also a large part of communication. The next few worksheets present a picture and an issue, like two children fighting over a toy. Students must look at and listen to the description and then use words to problem solve. A sample interaction is included below.
Teacher: Look close at the picture I am holding. This picture is of Jack and William, who both want to play with the same toy. They are pulling on the bear. What could happen?
Student 1: Are they brothers?
Teacher: I am not sure, but they could be brothers. That is a great question, and it shows you are really paying attention and thinking about the picture and question. What could happen if they continue to fight over the bear?
Student 2: The bear could be taken away by their mother.
Teacher: That is a great answer, and that could happen, but what if their mother or another adult is not around?
Student 3: The bear could be torn in half, and then no one could play. They would both be sad.
Teacher: Excellent answer! That could happen. Since we do not want toys to be destroyed, how could we help Jack and William Solve their problem?
Student 1: We could find another teddy bear.
Teacher: Great idea, but they really like that bear. Is there another option?
Student 2: The bear could be put away, so they had to choose different toys.
Teacher: Also a great idea. Is there a way to use words to solve the problem while leaving the toy to be played with by Jack and William?
Student 3: They could ask each other to share or play something together with the bear.
Teacher: Amazing! You guys are coming up with many ideas.
As we can see in this second set of skills, students must look at the picture, ask questions to clarify what is happening, and think of how they could best react to the situation. Some students may want to tell an adult or get someone else involved, but the teacher can encourage thinking through how they would speak to the people in the photograph. If the teacher wanted to extend the lesson, students could be asked how they would inform an adult that an argument was occurring.
The next set of worksheets is something that can be used at any point but covers the vital skill of being a good listener. Remind students that part of communication is being a good listener or receiver. Start by explaining the importance of listening and how to listen properly. It can be helpful to demonstrate poor listening habits through a simple activity first. Have fun with this activity by having the class or just a few students sing the ABCs. When they have begun, get up and walk around, knock a few things on the floor, and clap off beat. Ask students if that was good listening and see if they understood. Next, sit down and explain that you will give one more example of poor listening skills. Next, ask the other half of the class to sing the ABCs again. As they sing, slouch in your chair and sigh loudly while they sing. If they continue to sing, start randomly shouting out questions or letters to interrupt. Now you can move on to the worksheet. The first in this section shows students practicing good listening skills. Use it like the others and have students use communication skills to explain how the photo shows good listening skills.
The final sets of worksheets are about proper conversation and body language. The worksheets should be used in conjunction with acting out certain scenes in an exaggerated way. This is a wonderful way to teach new skills at this age. Start by having the class look in your direction and then frown, with your arms crossed, and speak harshly, saying the words, “You guys did so well today.” Ask students if they were acting happy or angry. Students may give both answers. Ask how they know. Explain that our body language is just as important as our words because it helps communicate ideas. We can know someone is upset if they look sad, even if they say nothing. If someone is saying something nice but looks mad, the message is confusing. Share the first worksheet about body language to allow students to practice.
Understanding how to recognize feelings without words is important in communication. When we can recognize feelings from body language and a show of emotions, it is easier to enter into a conversation. Make sure children understand that laughing at someone who is crying may make them cry more because they are already showing sadness or that yelling at someone who looks scared will cause that person to be more afraid. Understanding this unspoken form of communication allows a person to approach people appropriately in a situation.
Solving problems through the use of strong communication skills is something that even adults struggle with at times, but for children, the first instinct is typically to act and then use words. Teaching students to first recognize a problem, use the skills learned above to assess what is happening, and then use words to help problem solve. This is also a great time to teach voice regulation to students. Voice regulation is simply about using a calming, softer voice to help with problem-solving instead of yelling at the person or people while seeking a solution.
Many people overlook the concept that being strong in communication involves proper listening skills. Being a good listener is not just about looking as if we are paying attention, but focusing on the speaker, forming thoughts as we listen, and being able to repeat the highlights of what was spoken. As receivers of conversation, we cannot just focus on what we plan to say, but on how what is being said is building a conversation. This is a skill that requires practice. The best place to start is with the worksheets in this section and modeling appropriate behavior.
Children tend to display body language much more strongly than adults. If a child does not like something they will outright tell another person or make a face, but adults are more subtle. Teaching students to read body language using the photos shared is a wonderful way to start. This is also a skill that children need to see modeled and can practice in a hands-on manner.
Communicating our needs is an essential skill in life. If someone is unable to effectively communicate needs, then those needs may be left unmet. Young children often struggle with this skill for a variety of reasons, but practice makes perfect. Use the worksheets below to help children recognize where a need can be met and model how to properly have that need met using communication skills. This is a wonderful time to remind students of proper manners when speaking to others. After a bit of practice with the worksheets, try using the skills in real life.
Speaking, listening, writing, and creating are strongly linked in education and life. The worksheets in this section help students to use their words to describe pictures and scenes. Being able to use words to describe a pictured scene can help students learn to write about scenes to share with others, even if a photo or picture is not available. When practicing this skill, have students speak and share one thing they see in the photo, then have the next student share something new. This combines descriptive skills with speaking and listening.
Communication skills are imperative at every age, but kindergarten lays the foundation for proper communication throughout life. Not only do parents and teachers need to teach these skills, but they must also consistently model each. This means we ask, do not demand things that are needed, show good listening skills when a child is talking, and practice active listening to demonstrate proper conversation techniques. In the classroom, this also means taking time to allow students to discuss topics with one another and the class. This could include a simple activity in which each student shares their favorite part of a book with a partner, and then the partner shares with the class to show that they were good receivers. Keep up the hard work and enjoy our resources to supplement your own classroom.