Conversation skills are essential for the success of children entering kindergarten and grade one. By the age of six, children are expected to be able to communicate their needs calmly, listen respectfully when someone else is speaking and solving conflicts with little aggression of any kind.
Teaching conversation skills to preschoolers include imparting the ability to interact appropriately with others verbally as well as in body language.
These skills require
children to be able to read the facial and body expressions of others
and respond in a way that is considered appropriate. Most children pick
up on social cues, others need guidance and assistance in developing
There are children who have difficulty looking directly into the eyes of the person they are talking to. Remind them to "look me in the eye" and congratulate them when they do.
Teach the children to express their feelings. This format works well in my classroom:
"I don't like it when you __________ (call me names, take my things without asking).
Another thing we like to say in class is:
"Use words, not your hands."
This also helps children develop their own self awareness.
There are times when children hurt one another either emotionally or physically. Regardless of whether or not the action was accidental, it is important to teach children to take care of the situation they created. This is what we say:
"Look at your friend's face."
"How do you think they feel?"
"What can YOU do to help?"
When your children are angry or frustrated, teach them to:
"Take a deep breath"
"Then count to ten"
I also like to put my ten fingers up and ask them to blowout the birthday candles. With each breath they take, I put one finger down. I find this helps them focus on something else. Once they are calmed down you can discuss the issue that caused them to be upset.
To further understand the topic of social skills, read my interview with Dr. Miri Arie, child psychologist.
I also have a page filled with social skills activities.
Children learn conversation skills from the adults around them. Here are some fun games for preschoolers that you can play during meal time.