Have you ever been in a situation where someone’s body language made you feel defensive or uneasy? It’s no secret that nonverbal communication is a crucial aspect of human interaction. Some studies estimate that body language alone constitutes 90% of more of what we convey to others.
But when it comes to teaching, most people overlook the importance of body language. As a teacher or parent, it’s so important to understand the power of nonverbal communication. Your body language can influence your students’ behavior, classroom dynamics, and overall learning experience.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about why body language matters – and how you can improve your nonverbal communication instruction with technology to get better results.
Teaching body language goes two ways – kids need to be aware of their own body language and how it can affect others, as well as how to read others’ body language. When kids learn to monitor their own body language, they can better recognize when they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
For example, a kid who notices that they are clenching their fists or hunching their shoulders may realize that they need to take a moment to calm down. This ability to self-regulate emotions and behaviors can be a crucial skill for kids with special needs who may otherwise struggle to manage challenging situations.
Body language can also be used as a tool for learning. Teachers who use nonverbal cues can enhance their students’ understanding of different topics.
For instance, a teacher’s body language can help convey how students should feel about a topic, such as through a facial expression of excitement. Alternatively, using a more serious tone can indicate the importance of a topic or the need for focus.
Teachers can also use body language to reinforce behaviors they want to see more of, such as encouraging kids to make eye contact or respond to each other appropriately.
Have you ever noticed that your students mirror your actions? As a teacher, you set the tone for the classroom environment, and your body language plays a significant role. Your facial expressions, posture, and gestures can either calm or agitate your students.
Teaching is not just about imparting knowledge; it’s also about building relationships. As a teacher, your body language can help you connect with your students on a deeper level. For example, by making eye contact, nodding, or smiling, you show your students that you are listening to them and value their contributions.
On the other hand, if you avoid eye contact, frown, or show little interest in what your students have to say, they may feel disrespected or unimportant. By being more mindful of your nonverbal communication, you can create a sense of trust and rapport with your students, which can help them feel more motivated and engaged in the learning process.
By being aware of your body language, you can create a positive and inclusive learning environment that fosters your students’ academic and social growth.
Technology can be a powerful ally in teaching body language to kids with special needs, providing them with visual cues, interactive feedback, and engaging activities that can help them master this critical social skill.
Today, there are numerous animated videos and apps available that can help children understand and learn body language in a fun and engaging way.
These videos usually feature colorful characters or stories that depict different facial expressions and gestures and explain their meanings.
Apps, on the other hand, provide interactive games, quizzes, and exercises that children can practice to improve their body language skills.
Another innovative way to teach body language to kids is through virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.
With VR headsets or AR-enabled devices, children can immerse themselves in a virtual environment where they can practice nonverbal communication in a safe and controlled setting.
For instance, they could be placed in a scenario where they have to interact with a virtual avatar and have to decipher their emotions and intentions through their body language.
This can be a powerful way to help children with special needs improve their social skills and self-awareness.
There are several online games and activities that teachers and parents can use to teach body language to kids.
For example, games like Charades, Pictionary, and Simon Says, can be modified to focus on nonverbal cues and expressions. Parents and teachers can also create their games that include body language and gestures.
You could also have visual charts or posters around the classroom/house showing several gestures and their meanings, to help children remember and practice.
Video modeling is a technique used to teach behavior and social skills to students with special needs or anyone who may struggle with observing and copying new behavior.
By showing kids videos of people using different facial expressions, body postures, and gestures, they can learn how to interpret and use these cues in their own communication.
Teachers and parents can record videos of themselves, other teachers, or students, demonstrating good body language, or show them youtube videos that feature the same. This technique can help children learn how to convey their feelings and thoughts without relying solely on verbal language.
Self-video recording is a simple and effective way to help kids with special needs monitor their own body language and improve their social skills.
By recording themselves performing different gestures, facial expressions, and postures, kids can observe their own performance, identify areas for improvement, and practice new behaviors until they become second nature.
Many smartphones and tablets come with built-in cameras and video recording features that can be used for this purpose. Parents and teachers can also use video analysis software to provide feedback and track their progress over time.
Online communities can be a rich source of information, support, and advice for parents and teachers of kids with special needs.
There are many online forums, groups, and blogs dedicated to body language and other social skills, where parents and teachers can connect with experts, share best practices, and find creative ways to engage their kids in learning.
Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, can also be used to crowdsource feedback, receive tips and tricks, and showcase kids’ progress.
There is specially designed software available for teaching social skills to children with special needs. These programs typically combine several techniques, such as video modeling, virtual reality, and interactive games, to teach children how to interact with others appropriately.
These technologies are frequently used in classrooms and therapy sessions to help children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. Some well-known social skills training software includes Social Express, Model Me Kids, and The Social Navigator.
And don’t forget about the best social skills program – the James Stanfield Company suite of programs. We offer all kinds of social skills training that can help your child master the intricacies of body language, from First Impressions to LifeSmart.
Finally, it’s important to make body language lessons fun and engaging for kids with special needs.
Children with special needs often struggle with attention, motivation, and self-regulation, so it’s crucial to provide them with activities and games that are age-appropriate, visually appealing, and tailored to their interests and preferences.
Incorporating videos, animations, songs, and humor into body language lessons can make them more engaging and memorable.
Parents and teachers can also gamify body language lessons by rewarding kids for good performance, providing feedback in real time, and fostering friendly competition.
Learning and using body language in communication can significantly improve the quality of interactions with others. For children with special needs, it is an essential skill to learn, but it can be challenging to teach through traditional approaches.
By leveraging technology, we can make learning body language more fun, interactive, and effective for children with special needs.
From animated videos and apps to virtual reality and social skills training software, there are plenty of options available to help children improve their nonverbal communication skills.
So what do you think? Isn’t it time we embrace technology to teach body language to kids in exciting and innovative ways? We definitely think so.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.