Show and tell at home

PARENTS' CORNER

November 07, 1999

Editor's note: Jerdine Nolen today writes about a family sharing activity that promotes communication skills for school and home. Her column appears biweekly.

You probably participated in Show and Tell in the early years of schooling. That seemingly simple event allowed us to notice each other as experts. Remember how it worked?

Everything stopped because it was time to take turns and listen to each other.

Remember the value of it? We were:

* Learning to communicate

* Being taught tolerance for another's ideas

* Being taught to cooperate

* Learning how to share

* Gaining experience in public speaking

You can take that same technique and apply it at home. Here's how to organize a weekly family sharing time:

* Find a suitable time and place without distractions. Friday, Saturday and Sunday in many homes is Family Time.

* Talk it over with your family; get them to buy into the idea.

* Set the mood for sharing. Put up posters or notes around your home: "Don't Forget -- This Saturday, Family Sharing Night!" for example.

* Explain the ground rules ahead of time so everyone understands them. These work well for us: We take turns being speaker and listener. Each person is given the same amount of time to be heard (use a kitchen timer). No one is to interrupt the speaker when it is the speaker's turn. Everyone gets to be appreciated for their efforts.

Among the benefits of a family sharing activity such as this are:

* Creating closeness and respect for other's ideas.

* Providing a framework to develop social skills needed for good interpersonal relationships.

* Promoting good listening skills.

* Supporting children's academic success.

* Encouraging proper give-and-take among family members.

* Developing meaningful time together.

* Promoting opportunities to clarify important issues.

* Reinforcing close family ties.

Start small and build up to longer times to listen. You'll be amazed at how far your listening will go.

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