The Basics of Good Communication
Communication is the most important of all the soft skills. It is a valuable basic life skill and affects every area of our lives. It enables success at work and in relationships with family and friends. It’s our ambition at True North Homeschool Academy to help you teach those critical and practical life skills, so, of course, communication skills are of the utmost importance to us. Through the years, we have discovered and utilized many resources that we will share right here!
Four Essential Types of Communication:
- Verbal – Verbal communication skills are ranked first among a job candidate’s “must-have” qualifications.
- Written – This type of communication is essential both for business and enjoyment.
- Non-verbal – Non-verbal communication includes things such as the way we dress, signals, and body language.
- Emotional – Emotional communication skills vastly improve both business and personal relationships.
Let’s Break Down Each Type of Communication:
Verbal Communication Skills
We are all familiar with verbal skills: this includes how well you speak or write, how concise you are in conveying your message, and how winsomely persuasive you are during verbal interaction. There are four types of verbal communication. They are:
- Intra-personal Communication – This form of communication is extremely private and restricted to ourselves. This can include private journaling, our thought process, and even metacognition. Positive self-talk is an important skill your child can learn that will help them through difficult times when they may be tempted to dwell on negative thoughts. Check out our Affirmation Cards to keep positive thoughts flowing!
- Interpersonal Communication – This form of communication takes place between two individuals and is thus a one-on-one conversation.
- Small-Group Communication – This type of interaction takes place amongst a small group.
- Public Communication – Speaking to a large group publically or even public writing can be considered as part of this form of communication. Our excellent Speech Club is a resource for teaching students to speak and gain the confidence to participate in public speaking.
Written Communication Skills in Business
- Transactional Written Communication – This is a message sent to get results.
- Informational Written Communication – In this type of business communication, the sender is delivering a message for the receiver’s benefit. Since this is less dependent on the receiver, there is no response needed. If the receiver has questions or concerns that would bring the conversation back to transactional communication.
- Instructional Written Communication – This message gives receivers directions for a specific task.
Written Communication for Entertainment
Instead of written or oral words, non-written communication relies on non-verbal cues like physical movement, symbols, signals, etc. to express feelings, attitudes, or to give information. These most often include:
- Eye Contact
- Facial Expressions
- Posture and Body Orientation
- Space and Distance
Depending on how and where you were raised, you may express some emotions differently. Factors that can affect our emotional communication include gender, social morays, and more. Here we will consider six basic feelings:
Emotion is commonly expressed with:
- Facial Expressions (such as smiling)
- Body Language (using a relaxed stance)
- Tone of Voice
Now that we have broken down the primary forms of communication, you can see that excellent communication is a worthy goal. Skills like how to communicate with one another have a massive payoff in our work and personal lives. Be sure to include projects and lessons that will help your child learn to express themselves in your home and your homeschool.
What are the vital communication skills to teach your kids, regardless of age?
- Basic etiquette and Good Manners
- Netiquette (good manners and thoughtfulness online)
- The Art of Small Talk (conversational skills like simple jokes and stories)
- Name Emotions (pointing these out to your children will help them to identify and deal with them readily)
- Help Them Set Goals (knowing their end game will allow them to communicate effectively in any situation)
- Show Them How to Evaluate (and then use the most effective form of communication)
- Mindfulness (let them know it is ok to “push the pause” button and be mindful of themselves and others)
- Awareness (help them become aware of their nonverbal communication)
- Active Listening Skills ( they can become engaged and active listeners)
- The Capacity to Communicate with Self-confidence and Humility
- Identify and Understand (so they can empathize with the emotions of others and deal with their feelings as well)
We all need to be able to express thoughts and feelings well and accurately. We are so confident that communication is an essential soft skill that it is central to many of the resources you will find on our website or at the Soft Skills 101 Podcast.
It’s easy to fall into the idea that these types of soft skills are just something we are good at or not! But that’s not true – everyone can learn to be better at these types of things. Like we mentioned, soft skills like communication make our lives and relationships better! In this digital age, as careers and our workforce continues to change, the human touch of excellent communication becomes even more valuable. Take a quick look at some of our ideas and resources (listed & linked below), and as always, let us know how we can support you in your homeschooling!
Want support in teaching your kids communication skills?
Listen on your favorite app or visit the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Website for more discussions about teaching our children and check out our Podcasts on Communication:
It’s the Most
Wonderful HORRIBLE Time of the Year
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…No. It’s. Not. Every stinkin’ Christmas a tragedy occurs- every Christmas, thousands of us die. Do we deserve it? No. Do we like it? No. But do we wish for a different way of life? Um…yes. I have often dreamed of being a rock, cold and smooth. Or a book, treasured and kept safe. Even being a jack-in-the-box looks appealing right now!!! But no. Here I am, just bein’ a tree. A pine tree. A Christmas tree.
Yes, that’s right. I am one of your precious decorations for a holiday; you chopped down my brother last year, my parents the year before, and my girlfriend the year before that. Ellie…she was hot. No, I mean literally. Someone thought it would be a good idea to put candles on the Christmas tree that year, and when Ellie twitched while trying to hold in a sneeze, she caught on fire. And the guilty party did not even have the DECENCY to send a sympathy card!
The Legend of the Mighty Cliff
Legend has it that the very first North American martyr to Christmas was my great-great-great-great-great…y’know what, this will take forever…my extremely great grandfather. (I don’t know why everybody likes him so much, none of us have ever met the guy. How do they know he was so great??) Anyway, his name was Cliff, and he lived a peaceful life filled with simple pleasures; the chatter of squirrels and songs of birds, the fertile earth and sweet breeze.
But then, one day, a wimpy, harmless-looking thing on two spindly legs came and RUINED IT ALL. It used a weird, deceptively tiny INSTRUMENT OF THE DEVIL to chop down my extremely great grandfather Cliff, and after watching him crash to the ground, proceeded to drag him in a very undignified manner through the forest.
They say the angels wept that day. With his dying words, Cliff informed his brethren (via carrier-owl) that the strange little creature had propped his broken body up in its abode, and wrapped him ‘round with impaled little corn-children on a string. The creature hung paper from his branches and crowned him with a golden star; crowned like some pagan king prepared for a sacrifice ritual. I shudder simply thinking about it.
A Reign of Terror
When they heard of this atrocity, the Council of Trees got together (and by got together I mean communicated by owl, since, y’know, we’re kinda stuck). They compiled all of the information gleaned from various informants in the International O24U Association and discovered that the inhumane practice of chopping trees was all the rage in Germany. Many plans were conceived to put this reign of terror to an end. However, by the time a solution was settled upon, the barbaric tradition had spread to the point of no revocation (tree councils are not known for their timeliness, owls and all. Maybe we should look into drones). Since then, all conceivable options to rid the world of this savagery have fallen flat. World domination has been discussed, but the lack of opposable thumbs (in addition to legs, brains, and other useful organs) has proved problematic.
So here I sit, just waiting for fate to laugh evilly and point some merciless wood’s-bane of a human my way. Oh. Oh no. Oh, heck no! Are those…footsteps?? Somebody knock on wood! KNOCK ON WOOD!!!
I see a small female break through the foliage. I breathe a sigh of relief; that little sprout is no match for my brawn! But…I tense as she sucks a greedy portion of air into her lungs.
“DADDYYY!! I FOUND THE PERFECT TREE!!”
Oh, root rot, not another one! Another bumbling happiness-killer ambles into my clearing. And. He. Has. An. AXE! Oh, for the love of all that is green, please keep that thing away from me!! He advances like death itself! I’m comin’ Ellie, I’m comin’! Oh, the humanity! -Or rather…oh the forestry!! SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT!
“Oh Daddy, not that one.” The disgusting little creature wrinkles her nose. “That one.”
I glance behind me in disbelief and see my shaking neighbor, Steve. Might I add that Steve is the single, most annoying tree I have ever…and I do mean ever, met. And he’s not nearly as robust and amply-chlorophylled as I am. You want…HIM?! I gape as Steve is promptly cut down and hauled away. Too late, I yell after them: “HOW VERY DARE YOU!!! I AM CLEARLY THE SUPERIOR TREE HERE!! YOU JUST GIT YERSELF BACK HERE THIS MINUTE OR I WILL PERSONALLY-
About the Author: Emily Wilford is a sixteen-year-old homeschool student. She lives in Iowa, which is always either really hot or really stinkin’ cold. She really likes a lot of stuff, so trust me, I’m sparing you by only listing writing, mythology, Tae Kwon Do, horses, procrastinating, theater, and gazebos. You can usually find her reading a book while hiding in her natural habitat (aka under a blanket), and if not there, she’s probably trying to wrangle her five siblings (it never works, btw). She loves to sketch and listen to music, too; it’s truly amazing she ever gets anything done! Also, she finds it really weird to write about herself in the third person. Emily is part of the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club and has written previous articles for us, including Creative Writing for Awesome People!
Hi, my name is Emily Wilford. I’m sixteen years old (and totally NOT the sassy teenager my mother claims I am). Hailing from Iowa, I come from a rather large (aka LOUD) family of six kids, of which I am the oldest. I have been homeschooled since day one, and love the hands-on learning that homeschooling provides!
During the past few years, I have come to enjoy Latin, Shakespeare, and a wide variety of literature, as well as the meaningful friendships gained through my classes. In my (precious little) free time, I love to draw, read, and listen to music. I also enjoy camping, horseback riding, and ballroom dancing! Youth trips with my church are my favorite part of summer, and in the winter months, there is nothing better than to hide away with a good book and a warm blanket!
This last semester, I enrolled in a writing course through True North Homeschool Academy. Titled “Writing Club for Awesome People,” this course has not only been beneficial but also a total blast!
Every first and third Friday of the month, class commences with a unique creative writing prompt. Each student speed-writes whatever first comes to their mind. It is amazing how varied the responses are from a single prompt! Next, we dive into the lesson. We have studied a great variety of subjects, including (but not limited to): rhyme, sketch comedy, dialogue, setting, parallelism, and songwriting. This diversity has sharpened each point, as well as my writing as a whole.
To wrap up class, a few students read whatever writing they’ve been working on during the week. They are offered both encouragement and critique, as well as suggestions and ideas. It is enormously beneficial having not only a captive audience but a skilled and like-minded one to listen to and assess one’s writing!
There are four reasons why I have enjoyed this class.
- First, it has improved my writing skills- both creative and technical. Amid all the do’s and don’ts of good writing, tips and tricks are mixed in, all resulting in academic growth. The abilities I’ve developed over this short semester will stay with me for many, many years to come.
- Second, it has broadened my scope in creative writing. This class has encouraged me to try new styles and genres- I would never have thought to write a poem on my own!
- Third, this class has rekindled my love for writing. Often in my free time, I now feel the urge to elaborate and work on my stories- I had forgotten how much fun writing could be!
- Fourth, I’ve made some fantastic friends. It is so fun to be in a class with other middle/high school kids who love to write! They always have a book to recommend, encouragement to offer, and tips to suggest.
In conclusion, I would like to encourage you to consider taking a course from True North Homeschool Academy. Gaining experience, making friends, growing in knowledge…what could be better?
Interested in joining the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club? Check it out here.
Emily Wilford is a sixteen-year-old homeschool student. She lives in Iowa, which is always either really hot or really stinkin’ cold. She really likes a lot of stuff, so trust me, I’m sparing you by only listing writing, mythology, Tae Kwon Do, horses, procrastinating, theater, and gazebos. You can usually find her reading a book while hiding in her natural habitat (aka under a blanket), and if not there, she’s probably trying to wrangle her five siblings (it never works, btw). She loves to sketch and listen to music, too; it’s truly amazing she ever gets anything done! Also, she finds it really weird to write about herself in third person.
As a STOA alumni and coach, I have been through multiple classes and curriculum on public speaking and speech. Although some of these courses are great to teach the basics from, there’s still something missing.
I want you to imagine a high school boy who enjoys the sport of basketball. This boy shoots hoops in his driveway every day and watches every game of his favorite team. Maybe he’s even hired a personal trainer to help him refine his skills. After he graduates the boy goes to try out for a college he wants to attend, paid for by a basketball scholarship, but there’s one problem, he’s never actually competed in a game with a team. Obviously, he is not going to be very successful because as much as he knows about the sport, he has no real experience.
Similarly, many students that study speech and public speaking have not had a platform to prove their skill set and receive needed critiques from judges. By competing against other students in their age group, students can test their strengths and weaknesses.
Why Choose Competitive Speech for Homeschoolers?
Competitive Speech may not seem like it’s necessary at all. Can’t a student give a speech to their parents, or local co-op, and improve based on those critiques? They can but only to a limited extent. Judges push students beyond their comfort zone in a way that parents and friends won’t.
How well will the class push the students outside of their comfort zone?
Until the student overcomes their fear of public speaking, there will always be an obstacle in their future. Ultimately competitive speech tournaments are the best at creating the real-world atmosphere that students will face in college and the workplace. This forces the students to have to get out of their comfort zone. Each student is different and some may love public speaking from the start. Even these students will benefit greatly from STOA Coaching and competition.
So, what is STOA?
From the STOA website, STOA is “Stoa is a national Junior High and High School Speech and Debate League serving the needs of privately educated Christian Homeschooling families.”
STOA offers 11 speech events for the 2018-2019 season which runs from August to May. The events are broken down into four categories:
- Interpretive Speeches,
- Limited Preparation Speeches,
- Platform Speeches, and
- Wildcard Speeches.
Within the categories the events are –
- Duo Interpretation
- Humorous Interpretation
- Open interpretation
- Dramatic interpretation
- Mars Hills Impromptu
- Original Oratory
You can find specific descriptions of each event at this link: https://stoausa.org/speech-events/.
How can my homeschool student become prepared to compete in a STOA event?
True North Homeschool Academy offers STOA prep specifically for homeschool students in our live (online) speech course. This course provides instruction and experience in preparation and delivery of speeches within a public setting. Emphasis is placed on research, preparation, delivery, and evaluation of informative and persuasive speaking. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to prepare and deliver well-organized speeches. They will have also developed the interpersonal skills necessary to be effective communicators in an academic setting.
The True North Academy Speech club meetings will run the entire 2nd semester. The students will spend the first and second month learning the basics of speech writing and selecting which speech events they like the most. They can select up to 5 events to compete in for a NITOC modeled (aka qualifying) tournament.
How do the STOA Tournaments Work?
Tournaments are held in most states by local clubs, but each competition is a little different. Tournaments can have either speech or debate, both, or a combination of either. Tournaments will usually have a total of 6 preliminary rounds for speech events, and those rounds will be split into A and B patterns so that the events are split between the 2 patterns. This split means each student will compete three times in the preliminary rounds.
These rounds are usually 2 hours long and preferably will have 3 judges per a room to ensure maximum feedback for the student. After the preliminary rounds, most tournaments will have out rounds(e.g. Quarter-finals, Semi-finals, and finals) depending on the schedule.
For students to qualify for NITOC (Nationals) they must receive 2 “green check marks” from qualifying tournaments during the season. In order to get a check-mark in that event, the student must place in the top 40% of that event.
This season NITOC will be in Dallas Texas from May 20-25 at Dallas Baptist University.
Are you interested in learning more or joining a True North Speech Club? Find more information on our website or feel free to contact us with any questions.
Do you use writing prompts in your homeschool? Writing prompts are a quick and easy way to get your student’s creative juices flowing. They can add an element of fun for struggling writers or give experienced writers ideas to expand their writing topics and style.
Here at True North Homeschool Academy, we love writing prompts. We use them extensively in our writing club and our homeschools. Today we thought we would make your life easier by sharing six different types of writing prompts, as well as samples of each.
Be sure to read all the way to the end to also grab some free student journal pages!
Humorous sketches to get your creative juices flowing!
- “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is of good report, if there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these on these things.”
- “All things work together for good!”
- “His mercies are new every morning.”
- “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
- “To answer before listening — that is folly and shame.”
- “Fight the good fight of the faith.
- “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
- “… Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”
(Interested in starting a writing club? Check out our tips here!)
- “To be or not to be.”
- “Once more into the breach, my brethren, once more into the breach!”
- “We know not what we are, but we know not what we may be.”
- “Better three hours too soon, than a minute too late.”
- I would challenge to a battle of wits, but I see you come unarmed!”
- “For she had eyes and chose me.”
- “though she be but little she is fierce!”
- “I’ll just say it! This is stupid!”
- “I can’t do this anymore!”
- “I would rather die!”
- “Are we here to break his knees?”
- “I am your angel of music.”
- “I am right here!”
- “Get a job. Brush your teeth. Murder is wrong.”
- “Weak excuse!”
- Create a recipe for a good life.
- Write your obituary.
- Describe how to get to the Moon.
- Describe the beach and the ocean to a blind person.
- Pretend you are Beauty, meeting Beast for the first time.
- Interview the person who invented fire.
- Interview Hitler.
- Introduce your Mother to George Washington and record the conversation.
- You are a world-famous chef, cooking dinner for on a yacht for billionaires. What will you serve and how will you present your meal?
- You have won a trip on the first commercial space flight. Tell us about your flight and your crewmates.
- You have won a million dollars. You must spend all of it. Describe what you did with the money.
- “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research!” -Einstein
- “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” -Bruce Lee
- “Wax on, wax off” -Karate Kid
- “Thank you for making me a part of this!” -Muppet movie Xmas
- “Our assets are frozen!” – Muppet Movie Xmas
- “Who cares if you’re not the chosen one! You’ll do!” (NaNoWriMo)
- “Elevators are awkward” Tim Hawkins
- “It’s between two and three times greater than a normal week” Tim Hawkins
So now your students are all ready to write. What do they need next? Paper of course! No worries, because we also have that covered. Check out our FREE printable student journal that’s designed just with you in mind. This printable comes with a wide variety of themes and can be customized to your needs. Print all the pages that you need. You can find it here.
We at True North Homeschool Academy love to make your life easier, so please let us know how we can help you! You can contact us anytime. We are here to help you succeed on your homeschool journey.
I am leading a Writing Club this year at True North Homeschool Academy and to say I love it is an understatement. I love words, teaching people how to use them effectively and watching the enthusiasm and joy young writers take in expressing themselves and sharing their creation. Happy Sigh.
There is still time to join our fantastic writing club (we have new members joining us this week) but if you’d like to start a Writing Club where you are at, here is a simple format to get you started.
First, set goals and time frames.
Set goals for the group or have the kids set their own individual goals. In our group, our students set their goals for the year and then share their writing/reading goals (because writers are readers) for the time between now and the next time we meet.
Set a clear structure for the club so the kids know what to expect and how to prepare. The very nature of a club is less structured than a formal class, but creating set time ensures that you keep moving forward and as many students as possible have a chance to read and share their writing.
Next, add writing prompts.
Start with a writing prompt. The kids love this time, regardless of age or ability. Set a timer- not too long, not too short- 5-15 minutes. Read the prompt and then let the kids write. No talking, just writing. When the timer goes off, give everyone time to read their response to the prompt.
Sit back and revel in how amazing the kids are! You will be blown away at the diversity, ability, and creativity! No critique or formal feedback, though you’ll probably notice that often the kids will give each other unsolicited encouragement and support and cries of “Wow! That was amazing!”
Where can you look for writing prompts?
- Pictures from all time periods
- Famous Quotes
- A sentence or two from a book
- A snippet from the news
- A few lines of poetry
- Snippets from other subject areas
- Math formulas
- Science facts
- Funny photoshops
The sky is really the limit. Last week our prompt was from the news, “This storm can kill!” and the week before a quote, “Absence of faith is not lack of faith, but control.”
Then focus on skill building.
I am a poetry writer, reader and advocate from way back, so I often bring in poetry forms and tropes as part of our skill building. Many great writers include poems and songs to develop their characters, and I want the kids to have these tools available to them.
Other ideas include working on dialog, tropes, sentence structure and variations, plot devices, characteristics of genres, humor, applying literary analysis to one’s own writing and so much more! I usually allow for about 20 minutes on this section because I’ll present the skill and then give them time to work on it.
Next, write and share feedback.
Take time to have 2-3 kids share 5 minutes of their writing each week (the writing that they are doing on their own- apart from the writing prompts) and have everyone listen well. Then, allow the class to give feedback and assessment on the writing. I set clear parameters for the kids on this as our goal is to give each other constructive feedback and information that will allow each person to grow and excel as writers.
I teach kids about the “sandwich” method of giving feedback (2 positives, one critique, one positive) and encourage them to find both strengths and areas of weaknesses in the writing- offering possible solutions. This feedback teaches how to give and receive feedback, simple literary analysis, and how to listen well. We also work on presentation skills, and the kids know that they’ll have to introduce themselves and their work to contextualize for the audience before they begin.
Book reviews are also great!
Because good writers are good readers each student shares a book they’ve read, gives a brief critique, what the liked or disliked about the book and gives it a 1-5 star rating. We’ll be publishing our books lists each semester, so stay tuned!
Finally, have plenty of extra resources.
For our Writing Club, I also make sure the kids know about resources like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as well as writing and reading contests.
Our writing club has kids ranging in age from 12 to 17, some have written very little, and some have written a couple of books already. What we do have in common in a love of words and a desire to hone our ability to craft with words.
Start a local Homeschool Writing Club, but if you don’t have the time or inclination, we’d love for you to join ours! (you can join any month of the year). Or, if you have a local group, we can work with you too. We are partnering with co-ops and class days to bring quality education TO you, regardless of where in the world you are! We have special prices for groups. And if you don’t see something you are looking for in our catalog, be sure to let us know – we can work together to make it happen!