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:
(The following is a guest post from Lolita, a content strategist at Praxis.)
You’re probably not thinking about your career seriously yet. You’re not alone.
Many teens push professional goals aside and just focus on getting through high school. Then college time hits and they’re left with just focusing on getting through college. After that? You guessed it. They just get through work, left wondering what they missed in high school and college.
Your professional life doesn’t have to be boring and life-sucking. In fact, it should be fun.
Want to accelerate your career? Start today to set yourself apart.
The coolest thing about these ideas is they don’t change depending on where you’re going to college or what your major is. They don’t change if you’re wanting to take a gap year or skip college, either.
I’ve linked these ideas to lots of outside resources so you can do some more research and follow the ideas wherever they lead you (because it’s no fun to follow anyone’s advice verbatim!)
- Teach yourself an instrument. (Don’t get a teacher. Learn it yourself.)
- Build a website. No one else has a personal website at your age! Document your high school experience and your projects there!
- Teach someone else a skill. What better way to pass on what you know?
- Learn a skill set that is uncommon today. Study something like blacksmithing or knitting.
- Blog every day for a month. See if it won’t change your writing skills.
- Do anything every day for a month. You’d be surprised at the skills you build by sticking to something for thirty days.
- Set your goals in 30-day segments. Want to learn something new? Build a 30-day project around that goal.
- Read x amount every single day. Instead of setting a huge goal of reading a certain amount of books, start small. Read 30 pages every day, or 20, or 10: whatever you feel you can handle. 20 pages per day is 140 pages per week. That’s a small book’s amount! Besides, once you get started reading, you’re more likely to keep going.
- Complete a short course that’s relevant to your career interests. Places like Udemy have great courses that can help you expand your mind and build new skills!
- Go to conferences. Meet up with other people that think like you. Challenge your mind to think outside the box. Build your network young!
- Volunteer. There are hundreds of ways you can give back to your community and invest in yourself at the same time!
- Get a part-time job. Nothing will give you better experience than working in the market and making money for it.
- Find a mentor. Do you have big goals or ideas? Find someone ahead of you in those goals and learn from them. Better yet, do some free work for them and show them how much their advice matters to you.
- Start a podcast. Want to share your ideas with the world? It’s not hard to get started podcasting! You’ll build public speaking and content creation skills to boot.
- Learn how to email well. This is a skill you’ll need in your career. Learn it now.
- Use social media to your advantage. It doesn’t take long to establish yourself as an expert in the things you’re interested in!
- Read Breaking Smart. This series of essays will change the way you think about technology and its future.
- Dive into things as soon as they interest you. When those big questions hit you, take advantage of them. Research until you are tired of the subject. Write a paper on what you learned.
- Ask for recommendations. Some of the best books I have read were recommended to me by colleagues and peers. Same goes for videos, podcasts, and many other forms of content.
- Get good at learning things from Google. In today’s world, the ability to quickly and seamlessly learn something new is an advantage. Cultivate this while you’re young!
- Learn something new every day. Above all, make the commitment to never stop growing! Don’t fall into the rut of checking boxes. Take control of your learning experience today!
Want more ideas on how to prepare your homeschooler for their future career? Check out some of True North Homeschool Academy’sother posts on career readiness today!
Hey, I’m Lolita, content strategist at Praxis and lifelong learner. I was homeschooled for most of my high school experience; I spent a lot of that time running a small business raising dogs. I’m a guinea pig of all the ideas I mentioned above. You can follow me on Quora, where I dive into writing answers for fun. Check out my Instagram, where I’ve challenged myself to do things like a streak of daily polaroids. I tweet sometimes here, and post about my work on Facebook here. My email is email@example.com and I’m always excited to talk about education, career success, and big ideas!
Are you teaching soft skills and career readiness in your homeschool?
A well-known adage in the business world is, “You’re hired for your hard skills, you’re fired for your soft skills.”
Hard skills are those easily measurable and defined skills, like the ability to create an excellent PowerPoint, program a computer, speak a foreign language, or re-build a diesel engine. Soft skills are less quickly defined, perhaps, and can also go by power skills or personality traits. Soft skills are things like your ability to communicate effectively, work on a team, use critical thinking, and live and play with integrity.
Why are soft skills just as, if not more important, than hard skills in today’s quickly changing job market? Hard skills are easily taught through classes or training, but no amount of technical knowledge can make up for lack of integrity or work ethic.
What does this mean for us as homeschooling parents?
In the same way, we spend time, money, and effort looking for the all elusive perfect math curriculum; we should be strategizing ways to help develop our kids’ soft skills.
These skills include things such as:
- Critical Thinking
- Work Ethic
- Time/Distraction Management
Now how do we focus on teaching Soft Skills?
Communication goes hand in hand with academics as we teach our kids to write and speak well. A robust writing curriculum works best in a group setting, in my opinion, where kids are required to read their writing out loud and give and take feedback from teachers and fellow students.
A solid Speech and Debate class or regular presentations or recitations will help develop communication skills as well.
Working on teams, be they sports or academic is a great way to develop teamwork. Your student can learn collaboration skills by getting a job or volunteering or even working with parents and fellow students on projects and events. Also doing simple things, like yard work with your family can require you to develop teamworking skills. Here students learn essential tactics such as communicating clearly, listening well, and doing tasks they wish were delegated to others.
Perplexors, or logic puzzles, are a super fun way to develop deductive reasoning skills. Parents also need to ensure that their students use a solid math and science curriculum. Lego League, Odyssey of the Mind, National History Day and Science Fair Competitions all demand and develop critical thinking skills in a fun and challenging way. Don’t overlook learning Logic- both informal and formal –a tremendous critical thinking training tool.
In my mind, nothing develops creativity better than actually being creative regularly. Take part in daily or weekly writing, painting, drawing challenges, start a blog, take up photography. Students can even join our Writing and Art Clubs. Here students set their own goals (developing critical thinking), get regular prompts, assessments, and challenges. Most importantly, kids are inspired by each other!
In today’s job market, flexibility and adaptability are more important than ever! Today’s students will probably have around 15 jobs during their working life span. Many of them which will probably be Independent Contractors, collaborating with teams from around the world. This global market makes flexibility and adaptability more crucial than ever! Learning foreign language, religions and culture, travel, and campaigning are all excellent ways to develop these areas. Reading about history, and understanding geography allows us to take into account different times, people, and places, which in turn gives us a broader perspective.
The best way to teach work ethic is by having your kids work. Work alongside them and teach them the value of work. Tie their work to meaning, so it doesn’t seem like a time waste. Have them do chores, and contribute to the family in significant ways. For example, setting the table, vacuuming, taking out the trash, etc. They can even work on larger projects, like painting the living room or laying a brick wall. Work can take on many forms, and the academic work of powering through a tough logic curriculum or winning a medal on the Latin National Exam should not be overlooked.
Teach your kids to use planners and daytimers from an early age. Have family planning meetings weekly, so kids get a big picture overview of what is happening in the lives of their families. Teach your kids to SMART goals and how to prioritize so that they can meet their goals.
Have filters and timers on electronics with an electronic free day each week. Use your electronics as tools that you manage, so that your kids aren’t hindered or addicted to them — place parameters around what happens when. For example, you can set between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. as electronic free, because that time is for sleeping. Turn off the wifi, take the phones, and make sure your kids get the right amount of sleep. Their ability to set and accomplish goals will be so much more doable on a good nights sleep. Teach your kids media etiquette (netiquette).
Integrity is all about character. I talked in one of our podcasts about how when my Grandpa shook your hand, it was going to happen, even if it cost him. My Grandpa’s word and commitment was a binding agreement, in his mind, and he would do what it took to make sure he could follow through on whatever he’d agreed to. Telling the truth, showing up, creating and keeping commitments, understanding limits (yours and others) these are all marks of integrity.
We’ve done in-depth Bible studies with our kids from the time they were very young. These studies, along with in-depth history studies, have allowed us to talk about what has worked and what hasn’t in life. Teach your kids empathy; have them get involved in serving others. Develop Grit goals so that your kids can learn to persevere through difficulties, hardship, and trials. Teach your kids to pray and give them living examples of what it means to live our faith out loud.
There’s a lot to think about as you train and educate your kids. It doesn’t have to be either or as we teach our kids hard skills and soft skills- take an integrated approach and use academics to teach soft skills! Not sure where to start? Our Academic Advising program can help!
(For more information on teaching soft skills to your students check out our Podcast – Soft Skills 101 from the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network.)