“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Tony Robbins.
I’ve been inspiring children to write and teaching them these skills for many years. One of the greatest experiences teaching young children to write is to watch their skills grow so quickly. At the start of Year One, when the children are aged around five, I will often give them many opportunities to write. It is wonderful watching them learn to form the symbols on paper that will enable them to communicate. As they attempt to write, I will often ponder in amazement that human beings have created such an amazing method of communication; a collection of small circles and lines connected to make words.
Once completed, the children will buzz with amazement at what they have created and run up to show me their writing. They are beaming with pride and it brings a smile to my face. I will take their book and congratulate them on their efforts while looking at the creative scribbles that are sometimes off the lines. Often, I won’t be able to read their writing, so I will ask them to read it back to me. Some children will remember what their scribbles were meant to say. Others will bumble through and make some of it up, while a few will say, “I’ve forgotten what I wrote.” Toward the end of the year, I’ll sit with each child and we’ll compare their writing from the start of the year to where they have progressed, while we both marvel at their growth. It is so humbling to be at the start of these human beings’ written communication journey and to see them begin to discover the power of words.
Written communication can be advantageous to us as it provides a permanent record for future reference. Another benefit is that it may provide us with time to compose what exactly it is that we want to say; we can be extremely clear by drafting and redrafting our communication.
Have fun choosing one of the following to try together to help foster the skills of written communication.
- Get some scrap paper and write some short text messages or emails that may have more than one meaning.
- Write out some simple instructions for someone to follow. Give them to a partner and see what happens. Did they do what you wanted them to do?
- Write a letter or postcard and mail it to a friend or family member. Even consider making your own postcard by writing your message on the back of a photo.
- Leave some notes hidden around the house with positive messages written to each other. You could also leave them in lunchboxes, bags or in the car.
- Send a text to someone you haven’t seen for a while and say “I love you because…”
- Read some picture storybooks together. Take it in turns to read to each other.
- Sit around the table as a family. Each person has a pencil and a piece of paper. Everyone has a minute or two to start writing a story. Stop. Fold your paper so the next person can only see the last line of the story. Pass the paper to the left and each person continues writing the story that they have just received. Continue until everyone has written on each piece of paper. Read the completed stories to each other.
- During dinner, only communicate with each other using paper and pen.
- Go to the beach and write some messages in the sand.
- Write some fun messages to family members in your non-preferred writing hand. Leave them around the house during the week. Collect them and at the end of the week, try to figure who wrote each message.
These days, we are so connected with each other through our devices: the Internet, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even phone calls. When I completed high school, I took off in an old car with a mate on a trip around Australia. I was on a tight budget, so the only communication I had with my parents was the odd postcard home. A few years later, with an adventurous spirit and still little money, I spent nine months in Asia. Once again, only a postcard home every now and then. I spent the next few years working and traveling throughout Europe where I sent more postcards and letters home. I don’t know how I would cope if my kids travelled for long periods of time with so little communication. However, those letters and postcards were really special. On returning home, my parents had kept many of them and it was a lovely way to reconnect with all the experiences that I had and all the places I was fortunate enough to visit.
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” Yehuda Berg.