Interacting with children is fun and rewarding as I can delight with the children’s sociability, curiosity, innocence and capacity for fun. This social interaction stimulates children, educates them and creates the foundation of all later learning and academic achievements.
When I talk to babies or toddlers, I use eye contact and get down to their level. What I learned by being a supervisor in a toddler room is that language needs to accompany the action. For example, when I lift a baby, I would say “Up we go.”I use ordinary words and I repeat things so that I stress keywords and ideas. I show interest, I pause and wait for the toddler to say something back. Mirroring or imitating each other’s movements and sounds is working well with the toddlers.
When interacting with children above 3 years, it is important to speak simply and clearly according to the child's level of development.
I tend to describe what is happening to them: “You’ve got to the top of the slide, haven’t you? Are you going to come down now?”, as actions help children to understand what is being said. I speak calmly, I sensitively tune in to what the child is doing or interested in by listening carefully and attending to body language. I engage and demonstrate interest by paying full attention, smiling and maintaining eye contact. I invite children to give more details:” Oh really? Tell me how you are going to do it or why you like this “
I do re-capitulating: “So it goes like this then … or you think that …”
I offer my own experience: “Yes, I like going to the mall too at the weekend …”.
I offer an alternative viewpoint: ‘I don’t think the Bear in “We are going on a Bear Hunt!” wanted to hurt the children”.
I speculate:” What would have happened if the children had asked the Bear to come home and play with them?’
When communicating with a child who is bilingual or new to learning I make myself understood using body language, gestures and facial expression, by pointing, using pictures and using actions with my words. I accompany all children’s actions with language by describing what is happening – for example, I talk with the child and describe what they are doing when they cook or use playdough.
When I interact with an autistic child, I use simple words and avoid long strings of verbal instructions. I seldom use pictures to accompany my verbal directions. When I interact with shy children, I show a lot of warmth and do not forget to smile, to show that I enjoy interacting with them. I usually compliment them, speak nicely to them, and show interest in them.
So far, I did not have the chance to work with a pre-schooler with hearing loss or who is not able to talk. Not being able to talk or listen with ease can bring frustration and even loneliness, therefore I will definitely encourage such children to find ways of communicating with me and other people.