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    by Jonathon Denholm May 06, 2022 4 min read

    Conversation is something that we all engage in on a regular basis. It is a daily activity for the vast majority of people. Given that it is such a complex form of communication, it comes much more naturally to some of us than others. With practice, though, anyone can learn to master the art of conversation. Virtually any student can be taught to participate in engaging discussions with others. Conversation and relationshipbuilding are so important to child development, and they usually work hand in hand. When someone develops the skills for relationships, they naturally become better at conversing with others.

    Conversation Skills for Kids

    There is so much that goes into the development of skills pertaining to conversation. For example, body language plays an incredibly important role in communication and the flow of any given conversation. We have to stress to our students that when they make a good amount ofeye contact, it tends to make the people we are speaking with feel heard and understood, which deepens the connection between those speaking. It must be noted, though, that not everyone fluently understands it, and many children must have it explained and demonstrated to them. 

    How to Teach Your Child Conversation Skills 

    While children are oftentimes inherently social, it is important that we explicitly teach our children conversation skills. Explicitly, directly teaching our children conversational skills can ensure that they are able to communicate effectively with others. This is particularly important to note withneurodivergent students. This is important when it comes to relationship building, problem solving, teamwork, and collaboration. One simple way to teach children how to interact appropriately in conversational situations is by using conversation starters. Conversation starters often act along the same lines as sentence stems. To put it simply, conversation starters give children a place to start and the inspiration to keep going. When working with our children to help them develop these skills, we can encourage conversation examples that center around feelings, emotions, ideas, plans, family members, pets, or anything else that students might be knowledgeable or passionate about.

    Teaching Conversation Skills Lesson Plans 

    Teaching conversation skills worksheets with interactive scenarios likethese are quick and easy ways to teach these skills to children. While working entirely off of a worksheet is rarely advised, elaborating on short or one-word answers, it can be a good way to introduce the topic of conversation and work out some of the intricacies before the real practice begins. There are several ideas of activities that can stimulate the art of productive communication among students. Some of these include playingvisual hide and seek to establish an understanding of appropriate lengths of eye contact, simply having students tell stories, and helping students to engage in conversation with adults. 

    How to Teach a Child to Initiate Conversation 

    Children are often quick to engage in conversation when they are asked questions about themselves. Sometimes, however, it isn’t quite as easy for children to initiate conversation themselves. When we can tell that this is becoming an issue for our students, one of the most helpful things we can do for them is provide them with sentence starters and conversation topics. There are plenty of places you can lookonline to find great, helpful sentence starters. If we explicitly teach students how to have a conversation with someone,model appropriate conversation behaviour, and give them conversation skills guidance as they are practicing, they will be set up for the highest levels of success. 

    What should you do when you have a child not engaging in conversation? 

    When you have a student who isn’t engaging in conversation as much as you would like, take a minute to try and understand why that might be. Does the student simply have a quieter personality? It is always important to include every child in conversation, and practice is critical to development; however, pressuring students to engage in conversation that they feel extremely uncomfortable with can be counterproductive and even harmful to the child’s conversational development. 

    Ways to Gently Encourage Conversation in the Classroom

    One simple way we can encourage conversation in the classroom is by designingspaces that are conducive to both conversation and learning. By creating a calm classroom atmosphere that has a solid flow to it, we can seamlessly encourage conversation even among some of the most hesitant students. Another great way to encourage productive conversation is by asking open-ended questions. Most students are unable to take a “yes” or “no” question and turn it into a meaningful conversation, but when we ask our students open-ended questions, we leave room for interpretation, explanation, and personality to enter into the dynamic. This is vital for conversational development. Creating conversational routines is also an excellent way to let children know when it’s appropriate (and even encouraged) for them to talk. 

    Maintaining Consistency in Conversational Supports 

    When our students are communicating well, we need to point that out to them. As teachers, most of us understand that when children receivepraise, attention, or feedback for something, they’re likely to continue that pattern of behaviour. Consistency is everything. If you visit the Your Teachers Pet Creature website, you can purchase access to some excellent resources and supportpacks to help get the productive conversations going in your classroom.