Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication in Childcare – from Teacher’s Perspective

There are many children who are often misunderstood.That is why it is very important to take both verbal and nonverbal communication into consideration when we are analyzing some problems that we encountered in communication with children.

All teachers and caretakers are aware of why is verbal communication important in childcare. However, what they also know is that effective understanding of language and communication is crucial for successful teaching and learning. Most communication is actually non-verbal and that is why we need to pay attention to both.

Since there is often a disconnect between what we know and classroom practice, people who are closely dealing with these topics realized that the problem is often rooted in a lack of focus on communication as a two-way process.

Verbal vs Nonverbal Explained Thoroughly

With Verbal signals, we pay attention to the person and child’s tone and stress. However, that can also be deceiving since loud people sound rude and it is not necessarily like that. Still, we use words with a certain tone in a sentence to express meaning. You need to pay attention to how do you sound and whether you are surrounded by friends, family, or co-workers. With children is even more challenging since they sometimes can raise a tone when they are excited and they are still not socially adapted.

On the other hand, believe it or not, nonverbal communication conveys much more meaning than verbal, and it is often very difficult to understand it. People can really get confused with nonverbal cues, especially in the classroom. The most frequent nonverbal forms of communication are body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures. Personal space in nonverbal communication is also very important.

A Behavioral Component In The Classroom

Most teachers understand behavior in a sense of communication. Even the strict teachers are aware of the fact that sometimes certain things cannot be controlled. However, both verbal and nonverbal communication in childcare is sometimes not understood as a two-way process.

Maybe all this sounds abstract, so let’s give it some examples. This is also a good example of how behavior can be improved in the classroom, and also connected with the topic. When a child makes a face, the teacher may react to this “disrespectful “ response to what they have just said. However, maybe the child was only confused or in discomfort.

A  “hard stare”  is a good tool to use when a child misbehaves. The possibilities for misunderstanding are almost endless. That is why it is important to pay attention tononverbal child’s behavior

Possible Variations Of Verbal And Nonverbal Mix In The Classroom Through Examples

We always assume that what we are communicating has been understood. Still, sometimes both the communicator and the listener/receiver do not always comprehend the message the way it was intended to be.

Even with verbal messages, you can always make a mistake. That is why we need to pay attention to the mix. Here is what can happen:

●When the teacher says  “Wait a minute.” The teacher means: “I will get back to you but I have to finish something first.

●Most children will understand and wait

●Someone will understand like he or she  needs to wait 60 seconds

●A child who has experienced trauma will understand that the teacher does not want to communicate with him at all

When they are not satisfied, children will communicate this through further “poor behavior” or another strange behavior, for example overcompensating for their feelings of rejection.

Equally, when the child’s masking of their lack of understanding is not a big issue, it is very easy to assume that they have understood.

Culture And Behavior Caused By Upbringing

Culture affects the way people communicate a lot. Especially in a classroom setting, children will communicate with peers from different backgrounds. What is the most interesting part here is that not every child will understand and express the message in the same way.

Of course, where people are from is important. Still, what is even more important is how they behave. Usually, the way children behave is influenced by the families they are living in. If your family is verbal and communicative, it is more likely that a child will communicate in the same way also.

However, we have a problem when we have different types of children from different backgrounds. Imagine you have a quiet child and a very expressive and loud child sitting together. Sometimes it will happen and teachers need to prepare. Nonverbal communication is the key here actually and the teacher needs to pay special attention to cues, posture, gestures, and facial expressions.

The Importance Of Both Methods Used Together

 We all agree that strong communication skills are important if you are a teacher leading children’s classes.  You need to practice and be in touch on a daily basis with your verbal and non-verbal communication skills. The main reason why is that you need to effectively show your students what appropriate classroom behavior means.

Most of your communication with your students is nonverbal and that is why you should never neglect this component. Both of these types of communications are equally important and you need to show your students the rules and classroom lessons they need to know.

Let’s List Some Of The Most Popular Verbal And Non-Verbal Types Of Communications In The Classroom

Basically, all the possible variations of verbal and nonverbal communication are almost equally important and used. Still, there are some of them that deserve special attention and are kind of universal. Here are some of them:

  • Eye contact
  • Body Language
  • Smile
  • Greetings

Eye contactis an excellent way to improve your nonverbal communication skills. When you look around your classroom, you will make your students feel secure. Of course, you need to pay attention not to be too invasive, but it is always better to pay extra attention than no attention at all, especially with children.

Body Language is also important. For example, when you cross your arms often, children can feel attacked, defensive and insecure. You need to show your openness by opening your hands often and using your hands when explaining something.

Smiling is important since it will signify approval. That way, the children will also develop the ability to smile in their own social situations. They will learn that smiling means something positive in the majority of the case.

Greetings represent a certain type of respectful relationship between you and your students. When you say “Good Morning” and “Good-Bye” to your students on a daily basis, you are creating a very strong bond and you are giving them the example of well-used verbal communication.

All these methods can be put to good use if you use them strategically. Not all students are the same and not all groups of students behave universally. Basically, in life also you don’t use a hammer for fixing the toilet. All children are different so, you need to pay attention to mix nonverbal and verbal communication strategies often.


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