The Art of Communication: 3 Ways to Build Communication Skills
School may be back in session but that doesn’t have to stop you from helping your child develop communication skills outside of school. Whether your child already attends music therapy sessions, is a tactile learner who struggles with verbal communication, or works with an SLP during school for a speech disorder, there are enrichment options you can use with your child. The best part of all is that these are not only effective for developing communication skills, but they can benefit your child’s overall learning development – and be fun on the side.
3 Art Options to Develop Communication Skills
1. Music Lessons
For several years music therapy has become an increasingly popular tool for speech/language pathologists and behavior therapists. The research shows that music therapy has a way of energizing the brain, even for those children who are non-verbal or are autistic. If your child is struggling with communication skills, music therapy is not your only option, especially if your child is cognitively and behaviorally capable of being attentive in a music lesson. Music can be calming, help people with memory, and those who stutter sometimes find that singing is not as challenging for them. If you think that music lessons might be for your child, keep these tips in mind:
- Look for a music teacher who can teach 1:1.
- Ask your child’s SLP for recommendations of music teachers. Often music therapists also teach music lessons, and they would be more likely to have experience with children with communication disorders.
- Let your child choose the instrument. This could turn into more than an opportunity to build communication skills – it could be a rewarding hobby, too.
2. Children’s Choir
You’ve probably heard about people who have stuttering problems, but when they sing those issues seem to melt away. When a person sings the use certain muscles and breathing patterns, and they also get to experience rhythm components, all of which can help improve speech. Singing in a children’s choir for church or a community group can provide your child with an outlet and develop communication skills.
- Singing in a choir takes the pressure off of the spotlight (unless your child is hoping for a solo).
- Songs have predictable patterns so even your child who struggles to engage in conversations can sing because there is no expectation for producing new lyrics every time.
3. Art Classes
Communication takes many forms, and art is just one way that many people communicate their ideas and emotions. If your child struggles with speech, comprehension, language, or other aspects of communication, he or she can greatly benefit from the opportunity to communicate through art.
- The results of numerous research studies show that art education improve math, reading, phonological awareness, and attention-focusing skills.
- Art helps kids think about things they can’t see and tell stories without words, important parts of non-verbal communication.
- Sculpting and other very tactile art mediums can benefit kids who are kinesthetic learners – those who learn so much more when they can be moving.
Take some plastic storage bins and fill them with various art supplies: clay, paint, glue, pipe-cleaners, wooden craft sticks, and odds and ends from around the house like buttons. Encourage your child to create something with these supplies, or take your child to local craft store for inspiration. Many community education organizations either offer art classes or can connect you with a group or individual who might be able to inspire your child.
Sometimes when children are struggling with speech disorders it can be very tempting to focus on the speech. However, bringing other enrichment activities into their lives can open new doors and opportunities for children to build communication skills.