Non-verbal Communication and Sensory Aides

Sofia’s family has recently moved from Madrid, Spain to Berlin, Germany. She has been in her new German/English kindergarten for a little over a month. Up until the move, Sofia had only been exposed to Spanish. She had a relatively easy time settling into the kindergarten but is now beginning to experience difficulty during transition times and structured play.

She has become very attached to one educator but has not made any other significant relationships to adults or children in the group. When she is in need of something, she seeks out this one specific educator and if she is unable to make her need clear, she often gets very upset and has a hard time calming herself down afterwards.

Sofia has a 5 year old sister in an older group in the kindergarten, who has been experiencing difficulty since the beginning of the settling in process. Sofia’s mother went through the settling in process with Sofia and her father went through with her older sister. The parents now alternate drop off, always dropping off Sofia first as they say this is easier for them. Sofia’s sister often prolongs the drop off of Sofia by refusing to let her go.

Age: 26 months

Home language: Spanish

Additional language spoken: -

Language can be distinguished between that which is spoken (verbal communication) and that which is unspoken (non-verbal communication), i.e. “body language”.    

Non-verbal communication can exist on an unconscious level. For example, we may use gestures or make certain facial expressions without consciously intending to do so. This means that we cannot avoid communicating. In his communication model, Paul Watzlawik argues that one cannot not communicate: "As soon as two people are together, conscious or subconscious communication takes place" (Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967). 

  • What immediate steps can be taken by Sofia’s educators to help ease her frustrations? 

  • What long term solutions can be explored? 

  • What strategies can Sofia’s parents use at home? 

  • How can the teacher support Sofia to build relationships with the other children? 

  • How can the parents and educators support Sofia to learn the new language? 

  • How does it affect Sofia to have to say goodbye to two trusted family members in the morning (parent + sibling)? 

  • How can the other teachers work to form relationships with Sofia? How can they encourage with the other children? 

  • What bridges can be made between home and kindergarten? 

  • Did they ask the child what could help her (in the morning)? Sometimes children have good ideas! 

  • Is there someone Spanish speaking in the kindergartenwho could help out?