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Effective communication is the starting point to any relationship, whether it is with a child, young person or adult. No relationship is possible without some form of communication. The purpose of communication is to exchange information. This can be in the form of listening, questioning, understanding and giving appropriate feedback. How we communicate is usually dependant on who we are communicating with, for example adult to adult or adult to child. Respect and honesty are equally important to any conversation and the foundation to a healthy relationship. It must be noted, when communicating with a child, the adult should not appear to have the upper hand. It is important that you should not stand over the child as this will intimidate the child and break any trust that has been built. It also shows that it is the adult that has the overall power. Communication with adults/parents helps build a strong and trusting relationship where they feel they can come to you for advice and discuss any concerns they may have. It also helps parents/carers to support their child at home with their educational needs.
Certain situations also call for us to vary our communication skills. When communicating with a group, as opposed to one-on-one, it is important to note that some children do not tend to join in the discussion, either because of a lack of confidence or knowledge. The child should never be spoken to in a negative or forceful manner as this will only lead them to withhold from further participation in future group discussions. In such a situation, time should be put aside to encourage them on a one-on-one basis. Communication should be face to face, maybe leaning towards the child, with a smile and open hand gestures. Open-ended questions should be asked to encourage the child to engage in a conversation with you. Body language, another form of communication, is very important and shows the child that you are taking time out to make them feel important, showing empathy and sincerity and allowing the child to express themselves in a comfortable environment. This form of communication can also be used when working with a child whose development may not be at the same level as the rest of the class.