Promoting communication in children’s and young people’s settings. There are lots of different reasons why people communicate: to establish direct / indirect contact with others and then to maintain that contact, to reveal their emotions, thoughts, pass the knowledge, to maintain the flow of information, to be able to exchange views and to establish relationships with others. In the process of communication each word and gesture is of great importance as it may affect that process. As we communicate not only by speaking, but also using body language, sign language, written word (e. g. notes, memos, letters, etc. or even pictures (e. g. displays of child’s work, photos, paintings or scribbling) it’s important to read all those signs correctly. Within the setting it’s important to establish proper ways of communication as it will help to avoid misunderstanding and allows to deal with problems effectively. It can be achieved by accurate procedures (how to deal with/ inform parents, how to report accidents, what actions should be taken in different situations, etc. ), training (e. g. communication and consultation trainings) and support (e. g. language therapists, interpreters, BSL specialists, etc. ).
Exchanging information about children and young people between staff and parents should be confidential as it will help build the mutual trust and confidence (parents are able to talk about their observations, worries, preferences, needs, etc. openly when the staff is approaching, open for communication and listening; staff can pass all information colleted through observation to the parent or other members of staff and work out future actions). Child’s work and observations made by staff should be kept and storage in child’s personal files so they will be protected and seen only by staff and parents.
It might be sometimes difficult to maintain confidentiality and disclose concerns but staff should always keep in mind the child’s safety and welfare (follow the procedures, inform supervisor, seek an advice) and remember that child and their parents have their rights. Establishing close / good relations with parents which relays on effective communication affects development of the child and child’s interaction with others (social and emotional development – the child feels safe and is able to determine/ express their feelings, language development).
Lack of communication or wrong interpreting may cause unnecessary stress (for child, parent and setting’s staff), problems with interpersonal relations or conflict of interest (e. g. improperly communicated / understood information about the child who needs a professional bearing will affect the child as child might be deprived of support / intervention). It’s important that staff communicate with each other during day to day basis and during meetings as that affects relationships in the work setting (e. g. eterminate personal preferences to avoid distress, clear messages while setting new activities, passing information about child observation and filing them, confidentiality). ‘All communicate, few can understand. ’ John C. Maxwell Barriers which affect effective communications have different substrate e. g. background, religion, personality, ideology, tradition, nationality, race, lack of understanding, disability, etc. They may arise from the mistakes made by receiver / sender or due to the external conditions (unsuitable form of communication, bad reception, problems with reading / writing, etc. and may cause misunderstandings which should be quickly recognized and clarified. It can be done by: making sure that the message was transmitted correctly and properly understood, choosing another form of communication (because the form may not be adequate, too formal, incomprehensible), correcting and simplifying the language (because not everyone can understand the professional language, shortcuts used or terminology), or even an apology. To avoid misunderstandings in dealing with children, staff should always make sure that they have been understood and that the child understands the message transmitted (e. . ask additional questions, repetition of messages, use of additional materials such as images, books, etc. , select the right environment such as a quiet corner, change the tone of the voice, gestures, eye contact, same body level with the child). People of different nationalities might have problems with understanding English as it may be their second language so staff should be prepared to spend more time with those parents and their children or use interpreter (parents might be offered additional support, invited to English classes or even learn with their children during school hours).
Misunderstandings may hurt personal feelings, disappoint, break trust, cause lack of confidence or have inappropriate influence on child‘s development. To avoid those staff should know as much as possible about parents and children (e. g. admission forms, personal needs, likes and dislikes, beliefs, changes in personal life, additional support already received etc. ) and carry out additional research (about e. g. tradition, religion, custom, etc. ). That will help to establish adequate, proper and effective way of communication.
Staff should always be calm and professional while responding to individual’s reactions as inappropriate approach may cause more harm than good (e. g. girl was upset while in the setting as she forgot to bring her favourite toy; during pick up time parent is indignant; calm and clear explanation of the situation received from the staff will sort out the problem). Each setting should have policies and procedures of how to deal with and clarify misunderstandings and maintaining confidentiality within the setting, in contacts with parents or outside agencies.