How can parents help with non-verbal communication?
INTERCULTURAL EXPERIENCES: PARENT-EDUCATOR PARTNERSHIP SOLUTIONS
Gestures that can be understood regardless of language will help the child to understand the connected words. This can be, for instance, hand holding an imaginary bottle for ”drinking”, open hand moved in a slight arc towards the own body for ”come”, etc. Incorporating consistent gestures or body language into life at home can provide your child with a tool to use their own body language to navigate through their time at kindergarten. This applies particularly for children in a multilingual setting and the sensitive phase of settling into a new environment. For your child to be able to express consent or no consent with the help of their body language will make it easier for the people around your child to understand them and for your child to make themselves understood, although there might not be a shared language. This is extremely important for the settling in phase and general communication for your child in a multilingual context. In the settling in phase in a multilingual context, the child and the educators will rely heavily on the information they can exchange through non-verbal communication. By modelling and encouraging non-verbal communication at home, your child will be able to navigate different situations in a multilingual kindergarten more confidently and expand their communication skills in their new environment.
Recognizing and understanding non-verbal communication with children is equally crucial to parent, teach or guide them. A lot of information about the person or situation is conveyed through non-verbal communication and includes signals such as facial expressions, eyes, touching, and tone of voice, as well as less obvious messages such as dress, posture and spatial distance between two or more people. Parents should make a conscious effort to read their child’s non-verbal cues and their behaviour to best respond to their needs. Even if you, as a parent, do not immediately understand what your child is trying to express or what they need in that particular moment, trying to assess the situation, paying attention to your child’s non-verbal communication and judging from experiences with your child is a good way to start exploring your child’s feelings and needs. Parents and children then engage in a unique and valuable way of non-verbal interaction, making up a big part of their communication.