Unit 01 – Communication and Professional Relationships with Children and Young People (2.1) – (2.5).
This task is all about communicating with children, young people and adults. Please explain what you have learnt/know using the headings provided (2.1), (2.2)
Explain the skills needed to communicate with children and young people. (2.1)
To communicate effectively with children and young people, you must be able to demonstrate the following skills;
Showing effective communication. This is the main way to build relationships with children and young people. Communicating effectively includes using body language, facial expressions, facing the child, using open handed gestures, and smiling.
It is important to be courteous and respectful when communicating, listening to the child’s point of view. Being considerate of the child’s position and needs, and remembering issues that are personal to them, and taking the time to actively listen to the child. Breakdowns in communication and relationships often stem from not being able to listen attentively.
It is important, when communicating with children and young people, to be clear and concise, using age appropriate language in a way that the child understands, taking into consideration any additional
learning needs that they may have. Being relaxed, confident and articulate helps the child or young person to follow the conversation and gives them confidence when communicating with you as a teaching assistant. It is important to avoid sarcasm and shouting as this can cause the child to become frightened and confused.
It is important to provide questions, prompts and cues to encourage and support the child’s language skills and to assist with their independent learning. Asking ‘open’ questions encourages children and young people to talk.
As well as asking questions, it is important to be able to answer the child’s question and responding positively to what is being said and encourage them to ask questions.
Explain how to adapt communication with children and young people for…. (2.2)
The age of the child or young person
It is important to take into consideration the age of the child or young person you are communicating with, as this affects how you adapt your communication style, and the child’s level of understanding and ability to communicate effectively.
When communicating with a younger child it is important to make sure that you are at their level and able to maintain good eye contact with them. Using simple and clear language helps young children to understand and follow what is being said. It is important to ask simple, open questions for very young children to encourage them to talk. Younger children may need more assurance and help in expressing themselves than an older child would.
For older children, it is important to provide opportunities for meaningful conversation to take place. As a teaching assistant, you should be receptive to new ideas, respond positively and actively listen to the young person. This then gives them the confidence to express their views and opinions.
The context of the communication
Communication should be adapted according to the situation we are in. As a teaching assistant, we would be adapting our communication with children or young people according to the academic setting of the classroom environment or individual or group learning activity, or a more social setting such as the playground or dining hall.
In the classroom, it would be necessary to take a more formal approach to communicating with children and young people, so as to maintain their focus and attention on the task at hand. In more social settings you would be able to take a less formal approach to communication, keeping conversation light and ‘fun’.
Effective communication with children and young people must take into account any difficulties the child might have when communicating. Kamen (2010), states that ‘everyone has individual language needs, but some people may have additional or special needs that affect their ability to communicate effectively with others’.
Factors affecting a child’s communication abilities include; English as a second language. Autistic spectrum disorders, behavioural/emotional difficulties, cognitive difficulties, and hearing impairments.
As a teaching assistant, it is important to be aware of each child’s communication needs and to be able to adapt our communication skills to support them. It is vital that we keep information clear and concise, ensuring that it is kept short and avoiding complex words and instructions. We must ensure that we are patient and understanding with the child or young person so that they do not feel rushed or pressured. Sometimes, it may be necessary to use additional aids to assist with communication. Additional aids may include pictures, signs, or symbols, sign language, or even an interpreter for a child whose first language is not English.
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Explain the main differences between communicating with adults and children/young people (2.3)
As a teaching assistant, we must be aware of how we communicate, not only with children and young people, but also with adults. We must look at the situation which we are in, for example, in a classroom with children, or in the playground, or in a meeting with other professionals or parents evening. If speaking to a child in the classroom, communication can be more playful and less formal than in the classroom environment, all the while maintaining a level of professionalism. Communication with adults (professionals and parents) would be more formal. It is important to maintain a high level of professionalism when communicating with both
adults and children. It is vital that you maintain a high level of respect when communicating with adults and children as this helps to build trust and foster positive relationships.
When communicating with adults it is possible to use more complex language, discussion, and negotiation. With younger children, there is a much bigger emphasis placed on body language, facial expressions, pitch, and the use of more simple language.
Explain how to adapt communication to meet the different communication needs of adults (2.4)
It is important to also be aware of the communication needs of adults and to adapt our communication skills accordingly. Often, we change the way we communicate with others depending on the way they respond to us and we often adapt the way we communicate without realising it, (Burnham & Baker, 2010).
If you are speaking with an adult with a hearing impairment, it is important to ensure that you are facing them and making eye contact so that they can lip read. It may be necessary to adapt your communication to include written communication as an aid. Much of the time you would ensure that you are facing the person you are communicating with and making eye contact as this reassures them that you are engaged in the conversation and actively listening to them.
Where appropriate it may be necessary to use the help of someone else when communicating with others. For example, if someone is deaf it could be useful to have the help of someone who knows sign language or if English is not their first language then a translator would be helpful,
It is also important to make sure you are using the correct form of address, using positive body language and being friendly and approachable.
Explain how to manage disagreements between TA’s and children/young people and adults (2.5)
Breakdown in communication can lead to misunderstandings and disagreements. Therefore, it is important to clarify any misunderstanding by adapting the way that we communicate. Disagreements with adult can be resolved by discussing and negotiating any issues quickly and sensitively.
Sometimes adults may have differing ideas about how to deal with things. Schools may suggest that children do things in a particular way, whereas the parents may not agree with this. It is important to discuss this with the parents, clarifying why things happen differently in the school environment and working alongside the parent/caregiver to ensure the best outcome for the child.
A good way to manage disagreements and misunderstandings is to clarify what someone has said to be sure that we have fully understood them.
Tassoni (2010) uses the following example of checking understanding with a child to avoid miscommunication;
Child: Want that. Me want that!
Practitioner: So you want the ball, do you?
With adults, we would simply ask to clarify what is being said, and discuss any misunderstandings.
- Tassoni, P. (2010) Children and Young People Workforce: Early Learning and Childcare. Essex, Heinemann.
- Burnham, L & Baker, B. (2010) Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools (Primary) Essex, Heinemann.
- Kamen, T. (2010) Children’s Care, Learning and Development: 0-16 Years. London, Hodder Education.
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