Communication: the essential life skill.
Effective communication, as defined by Courtney (2009) “is a two-way process: sending the right message that is also being correctly received and understood by the other person/s. For communication to be effective, it is important to understand how the people you are interacting with may interpret your message”. Early childhood educators are required to have effective communication skills as they need to communicate on a daily basis with their students, co-workers and the parents of their students, each requiring different styles of communication. Good communication skills are an essential life skill, and a young student beginning to learn this skill would require their educator to be capable of demonstrating effective communication skills in order for the young student to able to develop these skills themselves. An early childhood educator requires effective communication skills when communicating instructions and information to a student in a way that the student will be able to clearly understand. They would also inevitably be required to instruct children with special needs, be they physical, psychological or emotional, and an early childhood educator would need effective communication skills to be able to communicate with these children in a way that is appropriate to their needs. As an effective communicator, an early childhood educator would be aware that their non-verbal communication skills are just as important, if not more important, than their verbal communication skills, especially when dealing with children. Early childhood educators may also require good communication skills when dealing with children from non-English speaking backgrounds who are just beginning to learn the English language.
Every aspect of learning is the most important in early childhood, in this stage of development the brain is developing and retaining new information at a rapid pace (Vinson, 2002, pp107). The early years of a child’s education are the foundation of their academic success (Smith, 2004, p.189), and effective communication skills are the most essential skill an early childhood educator can impress upon a young student. In the first few years of a child’s education, they will learn skills that will most likely remain with them for a lifetime, and good communication skills are an essential life skill. As stated by Vinson (2002, p. 26), “failure to master the basics in the beginning years can cast a long shadow across the remainder of a young person’s school career”. Early childhood educators are responsible for moulding young learners and helping them to reach their full potential. Children mimic teachers, and for children to learn effective communication skills from their educator, the educator will need to be capable of effectively demonstrating them. This is also suggested by Ebbeck & Waniganayake (2003, ix) who claims that in order for a child to be able to learn effective communication skills, their educator will need to be capable of effective communication skills themselves. Children require clear, concise and age-appropriate language to be used when communicating with them in order for them to be able to process the information being conveyed.
Effective non-verbal communication is also an essential skill that an early childhood educator would need to be capable of demonstrating. Children in particular are very sensitive toward body-language, as this is the primary form of communication that most children learn. For an early childhood educator to create trusting and secure relationships with their students, the educator must use positive body language with the children from the first instance. An educator saying hello to a child with a frown on their face when they initially meet is not going to draw the educator in a positive light in the child’s mind. A warm, smiley-face and open body language is more likely to appeal to a child and create a more positive and...
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