My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Helping "Communicator" Children Learn

If your child loves to talk, thrives on personal attention, wants to be appreciated, makes up their own stories, daydreams, loves fantasy, and always wants harmony both at home and at school, they may be a “Communicator”. They seek not to set the world in order, but to understand it. Since they are most interested in
understanding people and sharing this understanding, they often become counselors, or writers. They desire a personal focus in their studies; wanting all facts put into the perspective of human consequences. These are the ultimate idealists who expect their concerns to be seriously considered. They must try to make the world a better place. So, if this child wants to recycle the newspapers, let him!
With such a deep sense of human value, these “Communicators”(only about 12% of the population) often enjoy the social studies. These children need lots of personal attention, and work well in small groups and as well as individually. They particularly enjoy discussion as a method of learning.
As a parent, you might need to provide more approval and individual attention than your child can receive in a classroom. He might need to “talk out” his projects with you. He needs help dealing with any criticism at school, and needs his home to be a safe emotional haven. Your child could find a very “structured” environment “too impersonal” and threatening. This child might prefer the comfortable informality of studying on soft pillows in a corner. His teacher might need to know that this child needs their personal positive response on his papers, especially on his creative work.
These are sensitive children who can be easily traumatized by horror in any form. So though they love fantasy, and enjoy stories which illustrate concepts, they will need you to judge
the appropriateness of the material. Also these children, who want everyone “to be happy”, find competition emotionally stressful. Cooperative games, and group projects with plenty of opportunity for discussion are a much more appropriate choice in providing them with the emotional security they require. These children might also experience stress since they want to “please” everyone. They may need help in maintaining their identity and in being assertive with others.
Computers might leave our “Communicator” longing to talk to someone. Their natural inattentiveness to detail and non-sequencing approach to life, may make a computer a frustration since they can’t just “talk to it!”. It is not reasonable to expect this child to “hear and do”. Show them what to do, then concisely write out the procedure for future reference. If you don’t, you will endlessly be answering, “What do I do now?”. Though this child may never become a computer whiz, he will adore his “Spell checker”, and other features which handle the details for him, freeing him to create!
Another idea which can help you to capture his creative efforts, is to write down his stories for him as they are dictated. You might also use a tape recorder when he gets older, so he can write out his stories himself. Remember that their creativity is not confined to writing, but can be expressed in any artistic area. He might need you to supply plenty of art material, dance classes, a musical instrument, or some other medium in which to express himself.
Read to him often; it will help fuel his imagination. Don’t judge his ability to comprehend by his oral reading , instead ask him to tell you about the story, then discuss the ideas with him. They have an amazing ability to understand. If he must read something out loud, then make sure he has time to read it to himself first. He has a better chance of getting the words right, if he has the idea beforehand.
You will never need to worry about these children allowing excessive details to unbalance their life. Details are viewed as clutter, to be ignored, thus leaving them more time and space to concentrate on the “great idea”, or some new creation. Since these children are more concerned with the “Big Idea” instead of the “boring details”, they have difficulty with spelling, math, copying work from one page to another, entirely missing details, reading aloud, and forgetting names and dates.
He needs your help, as a parent, before his life becomes a shambles. He may need to plan his time and projects with you. Since this child sees life as a whole, he may have no idea where to begin. This is why he often becomes overwhelmed. He also needs assistance breaking large projects down into smaller segments.
Though they need some structure in their lives, great care must be taken. Creative “Communicators” can become severely depressed when forced into the rigid routine on which the “Orderly” soul thrives. They must not be told what to do, but in informal discussion, guided to see for themselves the underling patterns and principles. They will obey rules when they know how these rules help people to be happier. A loose structure is all they need with plenty of unstructured time for them to create.
At school, they need help managing details. They remember details better when they are attached to a personal story. Biographies can bring history to life for them. They may want to know about the inventor before they study his inventions. Studies will hold their interest if they are related to people. As global people, they might also need their parent to help them preview and discuss text material with them before they study it in class, so they can “know what its
about first”. Using speed reading techniques to obtain an overview before intensive study, can help give them a framework to later attach the details of the chapter. This will help their study to be more meaningful, and help them remember more of what they study. So teach him to begin by studying all graphics, pictures, and charts, as well as reading carefully the introductory and concluding paragraphs, topic sentences, and the questions at the end of the chapter. Teach him to ask questions before he begins, then read to find the answers. Show him how to take effective notes, and how to outline. This will help him to notice the details in his text book and lectures, and provide review before tests.
Helping him put the information in relationships will also assist him to retain facts. Time lines, graphs, outlines, diagrams, and maps all show how information relates to each other. “Communicators” learn best through understanding principles, patterns and rules. Thus, teaching them spelling rules is a far more effective way to improve their spelling than is rote drill. Relate facts to anything of interest to him. Use memorization devices such as rhyming.
He will remember the multiplication tables better if he knows the principles and patterns. Teach him to use a calculator since his precision will be patchy at best. You might have to sit beside him, and talk him through his math. Whenever possible, relate the problems to people. Fractions are more meaningful when it is a pie he is dividing for the family.
Instead of struggling with trying to get him to complete a workbook page, try turning him lose to write a report on the subject. Though some children might find report writing challenging, not this child! He is in his element! This is also a good approach to test taking. Instead of merely filling in the blanks, allow this child to take an essay, or oral test. It will more accurately reveal his depth of understanding; especially since he is always in danger of forgetting or confusing details. Report writing might help him compensate for low scores on “facts” tests. Daily oral or written review with you can help him retain more of the details in his studies, and thereby improve his test taking performance. Visual review is also helpful. So post those posters, maps, charts, and graphs around the house!
When young, “Communicators” often feel like “ugly ducklings”. With their focus on the “big picture” instead of details, they naturally have difficulty in elementary school. This child needs to be reassured that he is indeed a “swan”. Their creative abilities will be more appreciated as they proceed in school. They may even find that their High School English teacher or Social Studies teacher to be a “kindred spirit”.