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Improving Teachers' Verbal Skills

by Kay Albrecht
May/June 1992
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/improving-teachers-verbal-skills/5008509/

Above all, we shall not harm children. We shall not participate in practices that are disrespectful, degrading, dangerous, exploitative, intimidating, psychologically damaging, or physically harmful to children.
- Code of Ethical Conduct, NAEYC, 1990

Each of us remembers a time when words were hurtful - when what was said and how it was said was marked indelibly in our consciousness. As teachers, we say hundreds of things to children. We provide guidance, feedback, directions, commands, suggestions, instructions, positive reinforcement, encouragement, and so on. And what we say is magnified by how we say it and the non-verbal messages we send along with the words.

Appropriate verbal interactions between adults and children are further complicated by the complexity of children's development. Interactions between adults and children have different meanings for children at different developmental stages. A suggestion to a two year old is an opportunity to say "No!" while the same suggestion to a three year old is likely to be met with compliance. A command to a four year old is usually met with "You can't make me!" while five year olds will often comply with such directions without too much resistance.

What we say and how ...

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