Building Communication Skills for Teens

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Building Communication Skills for Teens.

Building Communication Skills for Teens

Building Communication Skills for Teens

We homeschooling parents like to see our teens develop solid written-communication skills. However, it is wise to remember that as homeschool high schoolers become adults, they often will be using their verbal-communication skills!

Therefore it is a good idea to make sure we are helping our teens build strong verbal communication skills for life!

In fact, helping teens develop good communication skills can help them (and us) right now. For instance, have you ever had a moment where you and your high schooler were having a difficult conversation? That is normal, of course. However, sometimes tough conversations can be made worse by poor communication skills.

Where is it useful for teens to have good verbal communication skills?

Lots of places! Here are a few:

  • In homeschool co-op or dual enrollment classes at the local college
  • Communicating with peers or when giving a presentation. Especially in the presentation situations it is common to feel the jitters.
  • At home with family
  • With friends
  • At their jobs, service work or sports teams

How to help

There are so many ways to build communication skills. Here are a few.

At home you can:

  • Do poetry and Scripture memorization and recitation at home
  • Have discussions on a topic at home. For instance, “Today we are going to talk about…current events, a Bible verse, a family story…”
  • Teach them active listening and practice it at home. In active listening, the listener repeats back or rephrases what they heard.
    • Speaker: “I learned so much in Math today.” Listener: “Math went well today.”
  • Teach them they do not need to disagree with the person but simply with the ideas.
    • This helps them become comfortable with differences and learn to be friends with all kinds of people.
  • Help teens learn non-verbal communication skills (body language)
    • Body posture (arms relaxed when listening, slight forward lean)
    • Eye contact
    • Facing the speaker (not the phone, btw)
    • Voice intonation (I’m really HUNGRY…I’m REALLY hungry…I’M really hungry)

In co-op or group classes you can:

  • Use Speech 1, 7Sisters fun public speaking curriculum, in a group.
    • This is a non-threatening, user-friendly beginner’s course for making public speaking delightful
  • Hold group discussions in homeschool co-op or umbrella school classes
    • Help teens contribute something simple in each class.
    • Give out poker chips, they pitch a chip into a bucket each time they share. When their chips are gone, they have contributed all they need to. (This is also good for helping talky teens to give others space- when they run out of chips, they are done talking for the day.)
    • Teach teens in group discussions to say something like, “I agree with that because…”
    • For teens who are holding back, remind them kindly that it helps everyone in the group feel better when they contribute. When everyone says a little something, everyone is more relaxed. (This helps teens look at others’ perspective and get out of their own minds.)
  • Help teens who dominate conversations, learn to make space for others. Help them learn to:
    • Self-monitor and ask, “Am I giving other folks a chance to speak.”
    • Scan the room and see who is looking ready to say something, then be silent for a bit. Also, if people at drawing back, looking away or irritated, it might be time to give others a chance to speak for a few minutes.
    • For highly opinionated teens who can fall into being judgmental, coach them to allow other ideas to be heard. You can even help them learn handle opinions they do not agree with by answering, “Well, I never thought of that before. I will think about it.”
      • This shows respect and humility- even if they do not agree with the speaker. The more we listen to others, even if we do not agree, them more our thinking is sharpened.
  • Drama camps and experiences can help build non-verbal and other communication skills (try 7Sisters Acting and Directing curriculum)

Also, help them learn how to manage social media communication skills

Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for a fun discussion on building communication skills with homeschool high schoolers.

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