• playing

    Communication Strategies That
    Encourage Active Learning

    High/Scope Educational Research Foundation recommends the following communication strategies for parents and teachers who want to encourage active learning in their children.


    At the core of the approach is a four-step system referred to as S.O.U.L., which stands for silence, observation, understanding, and listening.  If you keep these words in mind as you approach an interaction with your child you are less likely to interrupt their play.  By using this technique you allow your child to initiate play activities.  As you spend more time observing you become more sensitive to your child’s needs and you become a better listener.  All of these techniques are designed allow you to enter into your child’s play rather that direct his/her play. In order to communicate effectively with your children you need to be a partner in their play.


    Through years of experience in the preschool program at New Hartford Elementary School I have seen how well this works.  The less I say the more the children say.  The less I try to direct their play the more active they become in planning their own play.  As I observe I make non-judgmental comments about their play instead of asking direct questions.   Sometimes I play along side a child without saying anything.  Usually even very quiet children, will begin to interact verbally.


    The following communication strategies are recommended by High/Scope to help you communicate more effectively with your children.


    v    Turn Taking – Interactive Match

    These strategies help adults become partners with children in play.  They include; taking one turn and waiting for the child, imitating the child’s vocalizations and actions, and adopting the child’s pace.



    v    Self – Talk

    This simply refers to you talking about what you are doing, describing and demonstrating communication in the context of an activity.



    v    Label – Describe

    You describe and comment on what your child is doing.


    v    Repeat

    Listen carefully then repeat what your child has said. This both clarifies and acknowledges what the child has said.


    v    Restate

    When your child makes a language error, model the correct form in a non-punitive way by repeating what they said, correctly.  Don’t draw attention to the error or ask them to say it again. This is a positive type of correction that facilitates rather than interferes with communication.


    v    Expansion/Extending

    These strategies call on the adult to add new ideas or language into a conversation with children.  The adult may add to or change a child’s utterance to model a more complex language structure or idea.


    v    Open – Ended Questions

    Open-ended or divergent questions are those that have more than one right answer or can be answered in many ways.  They stimulate language and encourage creative thinking.