Teach Your Children to be Effective Communicators for Jesus
- Wednesday, September 26, 2007
"Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Colossians 4:6
Communication skills are vital for the Christian community. The media will challenge our children. Colleges will try to indoctrinate them. Failing that, they will punish them for their beliefs and try to keep them from expressing them. We need to teach our children how to respond when their faith is questioned, challenged and mocked, because it isn't a matter of if it will be, but when and how.
Communication is so much more than just manners or speech making. We communicate our faith in the way we carry ourselves, what we stand for, and how we share with others. We need to train our children to respond in boldness tempered by grace. They need to understand the tactics of those who hold to different philosophies in order that they may overcome the stigma the mainstream media puts upon Christians. They need to understand how to tailor their message of faith to the individual because one message (or, more precisely, one presentation of the message) does not fit all.
Unfortunately, resources intended to teach communication are rare. Most courses only teach speech or debate. Very few are offered from a Christian perspective, and fewer still approach the subject in a fun, hands-on way. Worse, focusing so much on public speaking, they can be quite intimidating to a child or even a shy adult. After all, the number one fear in America isn't death—it's public speaking!
Many parents do understand the importance of teaching communication and so they buy a speech course or enroll their shy child in a debate class and ask them to "grin and bear it" just for one semester. After all, they did! Parents often tell me how they were forced to take a speech class in high school. What do they tell me about it? They say they "got through" the class, but to this day they don't feel comfortable speaking their mind. Many tell me that afterward they vowed never to speak in public again!
The point isn't to "get through" a speech course. The point is to get speech communication skills through to your child. It's a lot like learning to swim. When you throw children into a lake and tell them to swim, half of them will get to the other side and marvel at the experience. They realize they made it and that swimming can be fun. The other half get to the other side vowing never to step one foot in the water ever again! Which one will attain mastery?
About five years ago, when a fellow homeschool mom asked me to teach a communication course that her painfully shy daughter would feel comfortable attending, I began by looking at my college textbooks. Though I remembered the classes with fondness, I couldn't say the same for the textbooks—they were very dry reading! It was the teachers who made these concepts "come alive." It was her presentation. It was his funny examples.
How do we gain our children's attention long enough to ease them into practicing the very skills that will help them strengthen their faith and share it with others? One of the best ways is through humor! Why is that?
Studies show that humor is a powerful teaching tool. It breaks down barriers and allows you to approach threatening subjects in a non-threatening way. It entertains and makes learning memorable and fun. The more fun a child has, the more he will be willing to learn and the more he will remember what he has learned.
A picture is worth a thousand words; humor is worth a thousand dollars. Comedians make good money. Is it because they solve world hunger? No. It's because they solve world boredom! The good ones make us laugh and the great ones make us think. Using humor in our teaching of an intimidating or boring topic can make any class fun.
The best way to teach children anything is to make it fun and involve as many of their five senses as possible. Here is a list of ten games and activities that will foster effective communication skills in your children.
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