Middle Years Program: Approaches to Learning (ATL) Highlight: Communication Skills
By Yesenia Ramos, Diploma Program Coordinator
As we delve into our learners’ development and into the Approaches to Learning, we are in agreement that “IB programs integrate skills as life-long tools that will not only provide students with a solid foundation for learning independently and collectively, but that will facilitate their adaptability to different situations and environments”. Therefore, the skills targeted are those that have an impact in all their courses here at Robinson and in their futures as well.
As indicated before, there are five categories of skills that groups or clusters ten sets. Communication is a cluster and category of skills. But, what do we mean when we talk to our students about communication? Our expectations in regards to communication are that the students are able to exchange thoughts, messages and information effectively through interaction. This means that the students will be able to: “give and receive meaningful feedback, use intercultural understanding to interpret communication, use a variety of speaking techniques to communicate with a variety of audiences, use appropriate forms of writing for different purposes and audiences, use a variety of media to communicate with a range of audiences, interpret and use effectively modes of non-verbal communication, negotiate ideas and knowledge with peers and teachers, participate in, and contribute to, digital social media networks, collaborate with peers and experts using a variety of digital, environments and media, and share ideas with multiple audiences using a variety of digital environments and media”.
The development of the approaches to learning is integrated into each course, but as a parent you can reinforce the communication skills by performing some actions at home.
- Listen to your children in the way you like to be listened to. Be a good role model by hearing things in their words and making them feel important while they are talking to you. Since they sense when you’re not listening, they’re much more apt to listen to you when you listen to them.
- Keep conversations with your child. Many children clam up around their parents during adolescence. Even if your child seems uninterested, try to converse as much as possible, it takes practice for your child to get comfortable talking to others.
- Recount the day. Engage your child in the practice either when he/she is at home, or on your way home together. Encourage him/her to describe how the day was spent. Not only are you promoting communication skills, but you are also becoming an active participant in your child’s life by being aware of what happens in his/hers day to day.
- Role-play conversations. Before a social event, practice with your child what to say and when to say it. Take turns playing each person in the conversation so that the child can think through different scenarios, conversation topics, and responses.
- Be critics together. Replay and discuss the highlights after finishing a book, movie or live performance.
- Ask you child’s opinion. Communicating requires your child to reflect on thoughts and emotions. Using “I think” or “I feel” statements is a good practice for having successful everyday conversations.
- Encourage journaling. Keeping a diary or a journal can be very enjoyable, and it allows a person to think through ideas and feel more prepared and confident when it’s time to talk to others.
 IBO, MYP: from principles into practices, 2014, p. 108.