At Moortown, we believe a fundamental aspect of learning and living is speaking and listening. It’s sometimes neglected in other schools, but it’s at the heart of what we do at Moortown and should be at the heart of home life, too. That’s the reason our children often have Talk Time homework.
We’re not alone in placing such importance on talk.
In a recent BBC article, England’s communication champion Jean Gross notes that the level of communication skills required to succeed in the workplace was increasing. “Today’s workplaces require people who can get a point across, listen well to others, and work in teams,” he said. “Worryingly, 47% of UK employers say they can’t find recruits with these speech and language skills.”
A recent survey of eight- to 16-year-olds in the UK, carried out by the Communication Trust and National Literacy Trust, has found that more boys than girls feel confident expressing their views in class and social situations.
Of 6,000 children surveyed, 69% of boys said they were “very confident” or “confident” speaking in front of classmates, compared with 57% of girls. More boys than girls also said they felt confident “saying no to friends” (70% to 62%), “talking to new people” (67% to 62%), “explaining your point of view” (78% to 74%), “asking when you don’t understand something” (75% to 69%) and “talking with teachers (81% to 78%).
The only areas where more girls felt more confident were (perhaps rather worryingly) “talking to people online” (85% to 82%) and (perhaps unsurprisingly) “listening to other people’s opinions” (93% to 89%).
At home, you can help your child, whether it’s for Talk Time homework or simple, daily conversation:
- Don’t talk on behalf of your child – they need to be ready to respond, even if it’s a quiet murmur to begin with.
- Encourage them to expand on what they say – can they explain, give examples and add some extra information so their conversation is interesting, convincing or lively?
- Be a good role-model – show your child you’re listening by asking questions, adding your comments and reflecting on what they’ve said.
- Ensure that everyone at home shares time for discussion (at meal times, for example) and have one-to-one chats (just before sleep is an ideal time!).