CYC-Online 53 JUNE 2003
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in a nutshell

Talking with children

Henry Maier

In the past I have tried to talk with you, the care worker; this month I would like to focus upon refining your skills in talking with children. Foremost is the creation of an environment in which the youngsters want to talk with you rather than your wanting to talk to them. Your conversing with the residents serves the major purpose of your wanting really to learn from them. In order to do this you have to talk up and make clear what you want to be informed about. Your effort is to get them to express themselves by asking them to teach or inform you of what they, in their contemporary understanding, can contribute. This means that they need to experience your sense of curiosity and personal interest before they can share what they are really thinking and experiencing at this time.

I suggest that you talk up to the youngsters, acknowledging that they have something to offer. This is different from talking down, which implies that your input is the essence of the conversation. Basic to this interaction is that you expect the youngsters to inform you and that they feel they have knowledge which is of special interest to you, the care worker. For example, you may inquire from them what is going on in school these days, what they most look forward to or what they wish were different.

It is essential that you check out what you think you have learned, by accounting in full what the child has taught you and how it has enriched your understanding of their lives. Most important is that the children experience that you genuinely want to learn from them.

Good luck and have fun.

The International Child and Youth Care Network

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Incorporated as a Not-for-Profit in Canada: Corporation Number 1284643-8

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