How to boost your child’s communication & thinking skills in just 5 minutes
Guest post by Kavin Wadhar
Are you the parent of a 6-12 year old? Are you concerned about the impacts of Covid on their social and communication skills? Do you find your busy workload gets in the way of giving them all the attention and support you’d like?
The world is changing fast and the next generation will need key skills like communication, creativity and critical thinking to really thrive. So, here’s an idea to help you boost your child’s communication and thinking skills in a way that is quick to do, super fun for the kids and totally free.
Ask your kids clever questions that are deliberately designed to boost creativity, critical thinking, communication and other key skills.
Let me give you a few examples.
Say you want to build creativity. What if you ask, “What are 10 things to do with a cup?” OK, so you can drink from it…eat from it…maybe turn it over to be a drum…what else? The first few are easy but then it gets harder and that makes the brain grow! To really push the thinking, you could suggest “What if you have several cups?” or even “What if the cups were digital?!” It builds the creative muscle in a quick, five-minute chat!
Building critical thinking
Or let’s say you want to build critical thinking. What if you ask, “Would chocolate rain be a good or bad thing?!” This is a fun and whacky question that is sure to get kids talking. But it is also really great practice for thinking about the pros and cons of any situation, which is the bedrock of critical thinking and problem solving. Follow-ups could be prompts like: “How many of your friends would say chocolate rain is good vs bad?” which helps them also consider other perspectives.
Coronavirus lockdowns in the UK have had a negative impact on children’s speech and language development, particularly with the youngest children. 96% of primary schools were concerned about pupils’ speech-and-language development, according this BBC article, and “evidence shows poor speech development can have long-term effects on learning.”
The ability to articulate your thoughts and listen to other people’s contribution is so important for children. Asking intriguing questions is a simple way to start conversations with your child. Don’t think of yourself as a teacher awarding marks (there is no right answer to the best conversation-starting questions!). Rather, you are an equal conversation partner, offering your own thoughts and ideas and having a rich back-and-forth dialogue with your child. You could try asking “How would you describe a mobile phone to Julius Caesar?” The idea here is explain something you know very well to somebody who wouldn’t have clue….
Make it a habit
If we can find a way to increase the quantity and quality of conversations at home on a regular basis, we will be doing our bit to minimise any gaps in speech and language development from Covid lockdowns.
Yes, I know, at the end of a long, busy day at work energy levels can be low. You might really want to have these sorts of fun skill-building conversations with your kids but coming up with questions on the fly is tough.
It does get easier, the more you do it – and hopefully your children will start asking the questions too! Remember to keep your questions open-ended and use reference points your child knows and cares about. You could draw inspiration from the home, your family, school, the world around you or from history or their favourite book characters… the possibilities are endless!
And, if you’d like to kickstart a new conversational habit or are in need of more ideas and inspiration, why not sign up for the KidCoachApp free 30-day challenge this summer? We will email you a juicy question every day to get your kids talking and thinking!
Kavin Wadhar is a dad of 2 kids and founder of KidCoachApp which helps parents have conversations that build the skills kids need. He spent 15 years in the corporate world, starting in strategy consulting and ending as UK lead of an Education publishing company, before leaving to pursue his passion and start up the KidCoachApp project.