Know the difference between hearing and active listening:
Just hearing a child or adult does not mean you actually heard them. For example make sure you are paying attention, making eye contact and try to avoid distractions in the environment. Show your communication partner you’re listening by asking questions and try paraphrasing what you heard.
Ask open-ended questions:
This helps children and adults give and explain opinions rather than giving quick yes/no answers that can terminate a conversation quickly.
Be aware of wait time:
Giving extra time in conversations will give children and adults time to process information. Especially when communicating with children who may have speech or language delays. A good rule of thumb is to wait about 10 seconds for your child to answer.
Avoid over correcting:
This could cause communication stress and negatively affect children’s progress towards communication goals. With adults, this can cause embarrassment and discourage communication.
Model effective communication interactions:
Especially in front of children! Kids are always watching and listening; they are more observant than we think! Examples include how you talk to older siblings, spouses or family members. For older children or adults, modeling interactions throughout the community can be very helpful to promote independence.
When possible modify your environment to boast communication opportunities. This could mean turning the T.V off or shutting down tablets and phones for set times throughout the day.
Think of every activity as a communication opportunity:
Children learn best during familiar routines filled with rich language. For adults, even the simplest routines or activities can provide communication opportunities to share experiences or problem solve.
Create communication opportunities:
This could mean putting toys in hard to reach places to encourage children to request or making toys difficult to open. For an older communicator, this could mean actively thinking of how to make an interaction meaningful and interesting. This could mean taking a grandparent to a car show knowing their love for antique cars.
Listen with your eyes and your ears:
Children and adults communicate with non-verbal cues just as much, if not more, than using true words. Keep your eye out for communicative gestures in children such as reaching, pointing and eye contact. In adults, be aware of non-verbal body language such as body position, eye contact and facial expressions to guage their involvement in the conversation.